The Spirit of the Lord enveloped 39th St. and Crenshaw Blvd. at the Brenda Marsh-Mitchell Gospel Stage as vocalists and choirs rocked the corner with powerful, inspirational music.
Thousands crowded the area to praise God with singing, clapping, shouting and holy dancing while listening regional and national artists lift up the name of Jesus through multiple formats.
The stage, sponsored by LIVEFREE and the Black Leadership Aids Coalition, opened the first half with talent recruited by Pastor Kelvin Sauls of Sauls Enterprises and Ricardo Mowatt of Mowatt Entertainment.
Christian comedian J-Red returned as emcee and kept the audience entertained with his clean comedy jokes and ticket giveaways to upcoming events around the city. Then, the performances began and the crowd enthusiastically responded to selections by Pastor Desmond Pringle, vocalist Angela Polk, song stylist Shari Demby and Starquest finalist Tameca DeVant.
Some of the memorable highlights were the Crenshaw High School Elite Choir, directed by the renowned Professor Iris Stevenson-McCullough, who revved up the audience with “Yesterday” and “Give Him the Glory.” Also, Jubilant Voices of Holman United Methodist Church brought the crowd to their feet with “Operator” and “Glory.”
Reflecting on Jubilant Voices’ multiple appearances on the gospel stage, Melida Byrd, said, “It’s a wonderful way to be a part of the community. It’s an awesome way for people to come together in a peaceful manner. We’re so glad to be able to share our talents in this way.”
The rejoicing moved even higher level when the L.A. Inner City Mass Choir danced across the stage singing, “He’s Coming Back Home Soon.” And shout of hallelujahs reverberated for blocks once the Zion Messengers belted out “I’m Praying That You Would Saved” and “Praise the Lord.”
Headlining the second half of the program were Warryn and Erica Campbell’s My Block Family, which featured several dynamic vocalists, including gospel superstars Mary Mary, comprised of Erica and her sister, Tina.
Warryn garnered rapt attention and drew an additional few hundred people by leading “We Worship You, O Lord” and Mary Mary brought many to tears with their rendition of “I Don’t Feel No Ways Tired,” where James McGee and The Choir joined them.
JoiStaRR displayed her incredible vocal range through the song, “Solutions” and Lena Byrd Miles rendered a powerful selection with “Thank You Lord For This Day.” The energetic Walls Group had everyone clapping and dancing with the lively “My Life” and the movement continued as Toni Estes sang “Stressed Out.”
Danny Bakewell, Sr., TOS creator and Sentinel executive publisher, said, “We aim to spotlight the best of L.A. gospel at the Brenda Marsh-Mitchell stage and this year’s artists brought a Holy Ghost party to Crenshaw Boulevard!”
Marsh-Mitchell, the late executive assistant to Bakewell, designed and diligently nurtured the TOS gospel platform for eight years before her passing in 2014. As a tribute to her legacy, Bakewell named the stage in her honor.
“I believe we fulfilled our mission this year, which was to make a joyful noise unto Lord through gifted artists and quality music that embodies the vision and spirit of Brenda,” noted Sauls. “We took the good news of Jesus Christ from the sanctuary to the streets and the experience was entertaining, exalting, energetic and epic!”