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National Gospel Convention Celebrates 84 Years

“Dr. Thomas Dorsey had a vision that came to him in 1932, where lay people had a place to get organized,” said Marabeth E. Gentry, current president of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs & Choruses (NCGCC), about the convention’s humble beginnings. “It’s the camaraderie … it’s the spirituality … it’s the beautiful music … the family atmosphere. We’re a large family reunion.”

Gentry took over as president of the NCGCC in 2010 after the death of then-President Bishop Kenneth Moales Sr., who had succeeded founder Dorsey.

Dorsey’s NCGCC is an event where up-and-coming gospel singers and songwriters are given a stage to perform and hear inspiring guest speakers. This year, the convention arrived in my hometown of Baltimore on Aug. 5 for its weeklong event at the Baltimore Marriott Waterfront Hotel.

The National Convention of Gospel Choirs & Choruses will be hosted by Elder Shawn L. Bell and Rev. Dr. Derrick E. Roberts, chairman of the NCGCC board.

Guest speakers include Rev. Dr. Lester W. Taylor, Bishop Walter Scott Thomas, Dr. Jamal Bryant, Archbishop Alfred A. Owens, Bishop Millicent Hunter and Dr. Donte L. Hickman Sr. Guest performers include Rickey Dillard, Charles Butler and Trinity, Jonathan Nelson, Maurette Brown-Clark, JJ Hairston and the Baltimore Mass Choir.

“Some of our great artists such as Hezekiah Walker … years ago came. Look at them now … Donald Lawrence … you can go back to the Cleveland Singers. Aretha Franklin in Detroit, Della Reese is a part of us, Dinah Washington,” said Gentry of the many aspiring artists the convention helped spotlight.

“Dr. Dorsey saw a vision, a place where songwriters and performers can come and do their music and listen to others do their music,” she said.

Dorsey, considered the “father of Gospel Music,” wrote over 400 songs, which include “Take My Hand, Precious Lord.” He headed the convention from 1932 to 1993.

Gentry said before Bishop Moales died in 2010 he said to her in 2008 that he was going to hand the mantle over to her, which she emphatically declined. But heeding to God’s will, she now serves as president of the 84-year-old NCGCC event that has provided a free stage to those in gospel looking to develop their skills.

“A spiritual thing came into my room,” Gentry said when asked why she changed her mind. “It said. ‘I will give you everything … I will not forsake you, just do what I tell you,’ and I did a walk of faith.

“I experienced ‘spiritual thing’ in my life many times before when I said to God, ‘Not me, this task is too hard,'” Gentry said. “But I knew as I was saying ‘no’ that I would do it if it was God’s will even through I knew the road would be hard, but God certainly gave me and is still giving me all that I need and I have seen mighty things happen because I took that walk of faith.

“I too have a national event God gave to me called the Uplifting Minds II entertainment conference — it is 18 years old, held annually in Baltimore and Los Angeles,” she said. “It too inspires and educates participating artists who have gone on to do great things.”

The convention’s goal is to foster and promote an appreciation and high standard of excellence for gospel music and gospel music performances. It offers session for youth and adults who seek to enhance their skills as singers, instrumentalists, educators and leaders.

Find out more about the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses by visiting www.NCGCC.com.

Eunice Moseley has an estimated weekly readership of over ¼ million with The Pulse of Entertainment. She is also a Public Relations Strategist and Business Management Consultant at Freelance Associates and promotions director for The Baltimore Times.

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