by Shawn Nowlin
Over 1,500 people made their way to the Berglund Center last Saturday to experience the Gospel Love Festival. Featuring headliner Pastor John P. Kee and New Life, accompanying the main act were special guests COMMITTED, Minister Steve Henderson & the Roanoke Voices Choir, and Henry Brickey Music Ministry. A lot of hard work behind the scenes went into making the event possible but when it all came together, concert organizers say they were pleased with the outcome.
The audience was entertained by approximately three hours of roof-raising gospel goodness.
The epitome of a healthy healing environment, on three separate occasions, Kimberly Smith said some messages in the show brought her to tears. “We all go through trials and tribulations in life. No one is immune from that,” Smith said. “I’ve endured a lot personally in the last five months. I needed to hear the words spoken on stage. It really gave me a new perspective.”
“I Can’t Live Without You,” a track off Kee’s album, The Color of Music, is one of Smith’s favorite songs of all time. Whenever she has a bad day and needs to decompress, she says she puts that song on repeat and just lets it play.
A native of Durham, North Carolina, Kee, born in 1962, developed his musical talent at an early age. Known for mixing modern contemporary gospel with the traditional gospel. Some consider him “The Prince of Gospel Music” since the 80s. Throughout his illustrious career, Kee has won 25 Stellar Awards, seven Grammy nominations, six Dove Awards, two Billboard Music Awards, and one Soul Train Music Award.
Featured in film, television, and commercials, Kee’s catalog is one of the most massive by any individual publisher. Since 1995, he has been the full-time pastor of the New Life Fellowship Center in Charlotte, NC. Fifteen years ago, Kee was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. He and his wife Felice Sampson have been married for 26 years and are the parents of nine children.
Kirk Miller, a South Carolina resident, made the eight-hour trip to experience Saturday’s concert with his family. “Gospel music gives me a feeling that no other genre ever can. Everyone who graced the stage did an amazing job,” Miller said. “Being able to experience the night with my closest loved ones made it that more special.”
If any of Saturday’s acts ever come to his city, Miller says he’ll certainly be there with his family.