3 Important Annual Gospel Events You Must Know About

Written by on March 5, 2018

#1.  National Convention of Gospel Choirs & Choruses (Founded by Thomas Dorsey)

The National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses annual session is a week-long convention held in a different city each year. The sessions have been held every year since 1933. The week’s events consist of daily classes and workshops, plenary sessions featuring world renowned musical artists and guest speakers, nightly concerts and a host of other activities for anyone who desires to better themselves as a Christian singer, instrumentalist, educator or leader in the area of Gospel music.

The 85th Session will convene in Dallas, TX from Saturday, August 4 to Friday, August 10, 2018.


#2.  Gospel Music Workshop of America

Gospel Music Workshop of America is an international music convention founded by Rev. James Cleveland.  ctive GMWA Membership ranges from professional and amateur Gospel vocalists to instrumentalists, composers, arrangers, directors and producers, and the like. According to its official website, approximately 75% of the music on Billboard’s Gospel Charts is written, arranged, produced, or performed by GMWA members. The GMWA also has chapters in the United StatesUnited Kingdom, the CaribbeanEurope, and Asia.

The GMWA presently meets twice a year. A board meeting is held in the spring and the annual convention session is held at a major venue beginning on the second Sunday of August. The conventions include workshops and musical performances during the week and attract 12,000 to 15,000 registrants annually. A mass choir of 2,000 to 3,000 vocalists is formed at each GMWA convention, and each year a new recording is produced. GMWA offshoots who also record include GMWA Women of Worship, GMWA Men of Promise, and the GMWA Youth Mass Choir.

The first GMWA convention was held in DetroitMichigan in 1968 at King Solomon Baptist Church. Approximately 3,000 delegates attended. The most recent GMWA convention was held in Birmingham, Alabama in 2016 at the Sheraton Hotel. Approximately 12,000 delegates attended. In 2017, the Board Meeting will be held in Las Vegas, Nevada and the 50th Annual Session was held July 22–29, 2017 in Atlanta, Ga, and will return in 2018 to both locations.


#3.  National Quartet Convention:

The National Quartet Convention (NQC) is an annual gathering of Southern Gospel quartets and musicians. It is held at the Leconte Center in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, United States. The first National Quartet Convention was held in 1957. J. D. SumnerCecil Blackwood and James Blackwood of The Blackwood Brothers were the founders of the famous National Quartet Convention formerly held in Memphis, Tennessee. The National Quartet Convention featured all the major gospel groups at a three-day event at the Ellis Auditorium in Memphis, Tennessee. After the first couple of years, the NQC was moved to Birmingham, Alabama in 1959 and Atlanta, Georgia in 1960. It returned to Memphis in 1961 and was drawing annual crowds of 20,000 by the mid-1960s. Sumner bought the convention in 1971 and moved it to Nashville, Tennessee in 1972, where it remained until 1993. The National Quartet Convention was held in Nashville, Tn. through 1993. After 1993, it was moved to a new home, Louisville, Kentucky. In 2014 the convention moved to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

Over the years, the National Quartet Convention grew from three days of concerts to a six-day multi-purpose event. A main attraction at Louisville is the exhibit hall with approximately 500 booths where artists, record labels, CD duplication plants, media entities, booking agents, Christian bookstores, and other industry related organizations display their products and offer their services. The week is largely attended by the older generation but lately due to the popularity of groups such as the Booth BrothersSignature SoundLegacy FiveThe Collingsworth Family and the Gaither Vocal Band, the fans are becoming younger. Fans meet their favorite artists in the exhibit area.

A concert is held each evening in the Leconte Center at Pigeon Forge, typically approaches sellout numbers for the concerts. These concerts years past ran for approximately six hours but in 2009 they have shortened the evening to five hours, 6 p.m. to 11 p.m. and feature non-stop music from the major Southern Gospel artists spaced at 10-20 minute intervals. The Singing News used to present the Fan Award on the Thursday night of the week but it was changed to Saturday night in 2009. Afternoons are devoted to showcases, some for new talent and others for conceptual events. For example, a couple of popular showcases have been Mike Speck‘s “Choral Music Extravaganza.” and “Glorious Piano Extravaganza” featuring the best in southern gospel music piano players. These are usually the highlights of the afternoons. There is a talent competition during the week as well.

In addition to the events for the fans, industry members routinely schedule meetings and even recording sessions to coincide with the convention. Groups needing to replace a member make new contacts at NQC and sometimes conduct auditions during the week. Various business deals are made or renegotiated. Hoping to gain exposure, up and coming artists schedule showcases at nearby hotels. Record labels court radio and media by feeding them meals, taking them on riverboat cruises and facilitating access for interviews with the artists.

In the late 1990s, the convention added three additional events designed to take the Southern Gospel convention experience to regions distant from Louisville. These new events were the Great Western Convention in Fresno, California; the Canadian Quartet Convention in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada; and the Central Canada Gospel Quartet Convention in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Within a few years, though, they had sold or abandoned those events in favor of focusing on the main event in Louisville.

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