Gospel Super Star Kirk Frankilin.
Gospel Super Star Kirk Frankilin.

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Gospel Superstar to Headline 25th Anniversary Spectacular

It’s only fitting that the silver anniversary of the Evangel Christmas spectacular will be celebrated with someone with so much gold.

That someone is superstar Kirk Franklin, the owner of nine Grammy Awards and a truckload of platinum and gold records.

“He is probably one of the biggest gospel artists in the industry, ever,” said Kevin Matthews, the elder of the more than 4,000 member Evangel Cathedral in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.

The church is celebrating the 25th year of the Christmas show which begins on Dec. 5 at the Evangel Cathedral. But with even with live animals, numerous attractions and special guests, arguably no one performer is as anticipated as Franklin.

“Just recently he released a brand new song and he’s even broken his own record for the most sales in one week,” Matthews said. “We are delighted and blessed that he’s a part of this.”

Last month, Franklin’s latest single, “Wanna Be Happy,” his first song in four years, earned the distinction of becoming the best first-week digital single in the history of gospel sales.

The 45-year-old, who’s now a legitimate legend and an icon in the gospel genre, sold 11,882 digital units in the initial week of the “Happy” single’s release.

“Every human being was wired with the desire for happiness,” Franklin said in a statement.

“And we will try different things all in the pursuit of that feeling. With this song, I’m saying, if you really want to be happy, you have to start with the originator. My goal is to try to lead people to the manufacturer of their souls.”

Franklin, through a representative, said he’s excited about the upcoming Evangel Christmas celebration and is delighted to share the stage with other gospel stars.

This year’s celebration features performances by Avery Sunshine, Yolanda Adams, Marvin Sapp, Tamela Mann, Mary, Ledisi and Anthony Brown & Group Therapy.

The annual celebration has regularly been a must-see for area residents who have packed the cathedral, witnessing the story of the struggle between good and evil: Jesus vs. Satan.

Audiences have displayed through their tears and other expressions, how powerful the message in the story remains, Matthews said.

“There’s so much and people can see a really good visual of what Jesus Christ did for everyone,” he said.

The show opens with more than 200 individuals dressed in 18th century costumes and dancing and singing in the snow in a small town, set in biblical times. Actors are dressed as toy soldiers, clowns, ballerinas and a myriad of toys ultimately leading into a gospel hip-hop dance sequence that features an energetic, choreographed dance routine.

In a nod to Black music, songs by Diana Ross, Aretha Franklin, Tina Turner, the Jackson Five and Luther Vandross are performed before those on stage give way to the gospel greats in the production.

“It goes without saying that we’re excited,” Matthews said. “I mean Kirk Franklin. We’ve been trying for a long time to get him. Now the 25th anniversary is here and he’s here.”

Tickets are $55 to $85 and are on a first-come first-serve basis. For a full list of show times and for more information, visit www.evangelchristmascelebration.com or call (301) 249-9400.

Stacy M. Brown is a senior writer for The Washington Informer and the senior national correspondent for the Black Press of America. Stacy has more than 25 years of journalism experience and has authored...

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