Gospel Music Celebration this weekend

Featuring many top Southern Gospel-styled musical acts, the annual Canada’s Gospel Music Celebration runs at Westerner Park July 12-14.

Events will be held at the Centrium, kicking off Thursday morning.

Acclaimed groups hitting the stage this year include The Hoppers, the Booth Brothers, Triumphant Quartet, Greater Vision, Sweet Presence, Potters Clay, The Blackwood Brothers, Keepers of the Faith The Singing Hills and The Hunters.

All evening performances begin at 6 p.m. There is also much to check out in the exhibitors’ hall where artists set up shop to sell CDs, books and DVDs.

“The event has got its own wheels,” said Wayne Dyck, president of the Canadian Gospel Music Celebration Inc. Many times, fans will purchase tickets without being aware of what performers are lined up. That speaks to the level of trust they have in the organizers, added Dyck. “It’s a weekend experience.”

This year marks the 14th year for the event in Red Deer, although for the first seven years it ran under a different name and was put together by a different organization.

Dyck and Gordie Reimar took over operations seven years ago. And all along, fans have continued to enthusiastically support the festival. Nightly concerts attract anywhere between 3,500 to 4,000 people, he said, adding that Red Deer is an ideal location.

The performers enjoy their time in Central Alberta as well.

“To say they love it is an understatement.”

Another popular aspect of the event is the daily Showcase Spectacular, which runs July 13 at 1 p.m. featuring Legacy V, The Booth Brothers and Greater Vision.

On July 14 at 1 p.m., check out ‘A Family Gathering’ with the Collingsworth Family. Performances on both days take place in the Centrium.

The Canadian Showcase runs Friday and Saturday at 3 p.m. with The Daae Family, The Singing Hills, Roset, Keepers of the Faith, Generations and Double Portion among others.

Known for their close family harmonies, original songs and sense of humour, The Singing Hills aim to inspire audiences through their personal, up-close presentation. The group, which currently consists of Roger and Patti Hill, three of their four daughters, Kari, Kelli and Kim and Kim’s husband Kevin Elias, has recorded over a dozen CDs.

Since beginning full-time ministry in 1990, there have been many opportunities for the members of Double Portion to share the gospel message as well.

They have appeared on the Grand Ol’ Opry stage, were guest artists of the legendary Cash family and the largest county fair in the U.S.A. They have also performed numerous times at both the Artist Spotlight Showcase during the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Kentucky and the Canadian Gospel Music Celebration.

Meanwhile, the Gospel Music Celebration also features morning chapel services which run at 9:30 a.m. in the Parkland Pavilion with Pastor Leon Throness. On Friday, The Hoppers will be providing the music and on Saturday morning, the Legacy V Quartet will be performing.

To Dyck, who has been promoting Gospel music in Canada for several decades, the event is an ideal time for folks to come and hear some superb inspirational music that will boost their faith and provide some joy and hope along the way. He also wants to see the tradition continue by connecting with younger fans as well.

“It’s ‘harmony’ music,” he said. “It’s also something we feel passionate about, and there is a tremendous need for it.”

For more information, call 1-800-410-0188 or visit www.gospelmusic.ca. For tickets, visit www.ticketmaster.ca.