Chicago Gospel Music Festival 2015: Lineup and Preview Events

Chicago Gospel Music Festival 2015: Lineup and Preview Events
Anita Wilson will perform Saturday on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Stage representing a new generation of gospel performers

The 30th Chicago Gospel Music Festival returns, May 29 through May 31, to the city where the genre was born more than 80-years ago.

The free admission festival in Millennium Park celebrates the genre’s deep Chicago roots showcasing local and national artists along with traditional choirs and contemporary urban gospel music.

This year’s headliners include Israel Houghton & New Breed, Ricky Dillard and New G, Richard Smallwood and Vision, Canton Jones plus an all-star tribute to Andrae Crouch and Walter Hawkins.

Three stages of live music will rock Millennium Park:

  • The PrivateBank Spirit Stage, located in the south tent on the Chase promenade and will feature music on Saturday and Sunday beginning at noon.
  • The Inspiration Youth Stage in the north tent on the Chase promenade will feature youth choirs, open-microphone opportunities and much more on Saturday and Sunday beginning at 12:30 p.m.
  • The evening performances will take place on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion stage (start times vary).

Preview Events:

Fans can get "Up Close & Personal" with Grammy® winner Tye Tribbett in a preview event at the Chicago Cultural Center

Fans can get “Up Close & Personal” with Grammy® winner Tye Tribbett in a preview event at the Chicago Cultural Center

The City of Chicago is sponsoring a series of preview events leading up the Gospel Fest including:

  • An exhibition, “Chicago’s Gospel Truths” featuring historic photographs and original artifacts at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington) now through the end of May.
  • A discussion and book signing with Robert Marovich, author of “A City Called Heaven: Chicago and the Birth of Gospel Music” on Saturday, April 25 at 2 p.m. at the Woodson Regional Library (9525 S Halsted St.).
  • The Maxwell Street Market will host Gospel Music performances on Sunday, May 17 at 1 p.m.
  • Grammy® winner Tye Tribbett and Grammy® nominated artist KEM will participate in a discussion moderated by Anita Wilson at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington) on Monday, May 11 at 6:30 p.m.

The Weekend Evening Lineup:

Friday, May 29

The festival’s opening night will be a “Gospel Choir Showcase” featuring a lineup of local and national choirs at the Jay Pritzker Pavilion starting at 6:30 p.m.

The Gospel Choir Showcase will continue at 7:20 p.m. with Chicago’s Dexter Walker and Zion Movement for an energetic and inspirational performance.

At 8 p.m. Mark Hubbard & The Voices will perform along with special guests and winners of BET’s Sunday Best, Crystal Aikin (season 1) and Geoffrey Golden (season 7).

Ricky Dillard and New G will bring their cutting edge sound to the stage at 8:40 p.m.

Saturday, May 30

Anita Wilson and Jonathan McReynolds launch the evening’s performances on the Jay Pritzker Pavilion Stage at 4:30 p.m. representing a new generation of gospel performers. Wilson fuses gospel music with funk, R&B and soul creating a melting pot of sound that inspires and uplifts its listeners.  Rising star Jonathan McReynolds puts everything on the table with his debut album, Live Music.

At 5:30 p.m., Grammy® and Stellar award nominated singer, rapper, songwriter and producer, Canton Jones will bring his own gospel hip-hop to the stage starting at 5:30 p.m

At 6:20 p.m. it’s The Tommies Reunion. The“Choir’s Choir” affectionately known to most as just “The Tommies,” originally under the direction of the late Rev. Milton Brunson, will be performing their classic contemporary gospel sound.

Then it’s  J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise at 7:15 p.m.

The evening will come to a close at 8:10 p.m. when Donald Lawrence and Company presents: A Tribute to Andrae Crouch and Walter Hawkins featuring Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Lisa Page Brooks, Tasha Page Lockhart, Chrystal Rucker, Brian Courtney Wilson and more.

Sunday, May 31

Multi-award winner Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago kick off the final evening of the fest at 4:30 p.m.

At 5:30 p.m. “The Sound of Sunday Gospel Radio” featuring 100 voices from an assortment Chicago church choirs perform at Jay Pritzker Pavilion.

Taking the stage at 7 p.m., it’s  Anthony Brown & group therAPy.

At 7:45 p.m.  Richard Smallwood and Vision bring a unique blend of classical movement with traditional gospel music to the stage.

Multiple Grammy® winner, musician, songwriter and producer Israel Houghton & New Breed closes out this year’s fest with performances beginning at 8:45 p.m.


Throughout the weekend, the Gospel Music Festival will be offering a variety of family friendly activities including:  The Inspiration Youth Stage, an Art Fair, a Marketplace (north tent on the Chase Promenade) a Kids Activity Zone and a Health and Wellness Oasis offering health information and advice from experts (on the south promenade in the south tent).

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