When Praises Go Up…Blessings Come Down

On Sunday, December 11, 2016, New Jersey’s most historic arts and entertainment venue, Newark Symphony Hall presented their 6th annual When Praises Go Up! Gospel Showcase inside the venue’s Terrace Ballroom. What makes this year different? After years of hard work, beginning as a volunteer moving up to production assistant, I was so honored to be this year’s executive producer, making me the youngest person in the production history to be the official producer.

I shared that with you all because often times we become so engulfed in our daily lives that we forget to “stop and smell the roses”. Nearly three weeks ago, Facebook memories humbly reminded me of this journey sharing a photograph taken three years ago of myself on set prepping for video interviews with the then 3rd annual When Praises Go Up Gospel Showcase production team and honoree Donald Malloy.

If you aren’t familiar with the When Praises Go Up Gospel Showcase, it is yearly production held on the second Sunday of December organized by Newark Symphony Hall, whose goal is to provide a platform for growing ministries in the greater-Newark area while honoring a member of the community for their outstanding commitment to City and Gospel music. The When Praises Go Up Gospel Showcase is not a competition, but an evening of praise and worship, showcasing these ministries. Beginning in September, the venue hosts open auditions for interested ministries and the selected ministries go on to train vigorously in their area of worship every week beginning in October until the Showcase.

With that said, the evening would not have been remotely possible without the unwavering support and hard work from the 6th annual When Praises Go Up! Gospel Showcase production team, Newark Symphony Hall event staff, the evening’s featured ministries, the evening’s musicians and background singers, guest host Pastor Fondrea Lewis of The Greater Glory Church, distinguished honoree Bishop George C. Searight of Abundant Family Life Family Worship Church of New Brunswick, media (The Tidwells, Miss Terry Bell and Tigershots Photography) and the local 28 stage hand union.

A special thank you to the evening’s official sponsors Pillar College, Investors Banks, Prudential Finance and tickets sponsors Assemblywoman Cleopatra G. Tucker, Council-president Mildred Crump, Southward Councilmen John Sharpe James, Almetta Sabb representative for the City of Newark Seniors, CJ Motor Sport of Newark, Robert Treat/Best Western, Pastor John Arnold, Perry’s Funeral Home, H&M Furniture and Appliance, Juice For Life and Bergen Unlimited Wireless as well as the Honorable Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Reverend Louise Scott-Rountree and the City of Newark for presenting honoree Bishop Searight with a proclamation on behalf of the City.

The  When Praises Go Up! Gospel Showcase production team was comprised of Dr. Albert J. Lewis, Jr. serving as the head advisory, Professor Jerry Williams, Sr. serving as the musical director, Mrs. Cisely Martin-Breeden serving as the co-musical director, Mrs. Timeka McLeod-Jamison serving as the head of choreography, Mrs. Marie Thompson-Rogers serving as the stage manager and myself as the producer.

This year’s featured ministries included:

Niyla Barr (liturgical dancer),
Marcus Blackwell (vocalist),
Glory Dancers (mime & liturgical dancers),
Adina Lockhart (liturgical dancer),
The Martin Sisters (vocalists),
Krystle Morrissette (vocalist),
The Newark Symphony Hall Gospel Choral (choir),
Jahod Silver (liturgical dancer)
and Devian Thomas (vocalist).

With special guest appearances by Vessels of Praises (liturgical dancers), Kyyale Williams (liturgical dancer) and Makeda Modeste (liturgical dancer).

This year’s background vocalists included:

Alexis Morgan (soprano),
Alexander Ogburn (tenor),
Jalessa Romero (alto) and
Faith Blocker (soprano).

This year’s musicians included:

Professor Jerry Williams, Sr. (pianist),
Anthony Boyd (guitarist),
Dennis (saxophonist) *not listed in program book and
Lamar Jamison (drummer).

A special thank you to the Newark Symphony Hall Board of Directors and the current executive director Mr. Leon B. Denmark for granting me this opportunity, Commerce Kitchen for catering the V.I.P. reception, Newark Illustrated for printing the official flyer cards & window poster, the City of Newark for printing the evening’s program books and last but not least the evening’s attendees for your support!

If you were not able to attend, I’ve inserted the link to the program book for your review. Return to Newark Symphony Hall next year for the 7th annual When Praises Go Up Gospel Showcase scheduled for Sunday, December 10th, 2017.



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