by Sheilah Belle
Atlanta, GA – The Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) is currently celebrating its 47th Anniversary with more than 7,000 registered participants in Atlanta, GA. The Hyatt Regency Hotel in downtown Atlanta is serving as this years host hotel with all activities being held there under one roof. Needless to say but the Hyatt and the Hilton Hotel were both sold out for the week along with nearby hotels, taking late comers, which were starting to mount into the thousands. In normal GMWA tradition, the week kicked off with GMWA members volunteering their services to serve those in need throughout the Atlanta community, followed with its traditional Sunday Holy Communion service. Bishop Albert Jamison, GMWA Chairman served as the opening guest speaker. Also offered during the convention week are Daily Bread services, held each day during the week at 10am with various guest pastors from around the country. However from 6:00am until well after midnight, you can find classes on anything Gospel including, How to play the drums, Leadership classes for Women and Men, New Music, the Male Chorus, the L.A. Chapter of GMWA, the Japan Chapter and simply Gospel music lovers from truly all walks of life. Additional goodies during the week also included a “Diva’s Concert”, “God City with Canton Jones,” a Dorinda Clark Cole Fashion Show, featuring her fashion collection, The Brat Pack concert featuring Bishop Hezekiah Walker, Donald Lawrence and Ricky Dillard, James Fortune and Friends in concert and much much more. On Monday night, Teemade Production Concert producer and music industry executive Kenny Taylor kicked off the first concert of the week for the Gospel Announcers Guild that included and featured more than 30 new and established artists like Dorothy Norwood, Melvin Williams, David Wright, Patrick Lundy, Jamal Strong, Pastor Tyrone Jefferson, Cory Weaver, Angela “Missy” Billups, Kergayma, Bishop Charles Lyles and the New John Howard and the Ministers of Music and many more. Sheilah Belle, The Belle of The Belle Report and Bishop Ryan Warner from Versatile Entertainment co-hosted the 5p.m. concert and Reggie Gay from The Reggie Show and Doressa Harvey from WCAO 600AM in Baltimore co-hosted part two of the concert at 10p.m. Throughout the week, you can also find Gospel Announcers from across the country that also call this annual convention “HOME”, as they gather to talk about the state of the music industry, the music climate, digital technology and the changing components, how to make things better, to simply networking and coming together as an industry music channel of wealth. We caught up with the Gospel Announcers Guild Assistant Secretary, Liaison to the Stellar Awards and Chicago Gospel Announcers Guild President Emeritus, Dennis Cole who said, “Everything is exceeding our expectations. We have had some wonderful panels, led off by The Belle Report’s Sheilah Belle along with Bro. Steve, Gospel Heritage Foundation Founder Dr. Teresa Hairston, Capriccio, Bobby Hill and UGospel Khalif Townes and we have several more panels that will also present this week, including ‘The State of Radio,’ with some of the experts in radio.” Missing this year was the Gospel Announcers Guild Chairman Al ‘The Bishop” Hobbs because of health challenges. However he was remembered during a special Tribute where close friends and family members shared stories and special memories about him, while others performed in song, including Dorothy Norwood, who said, “I have probably known Al, longer than anyone in here.” Also in attendance were Hobbs son and daughter. The tribute ended with a special presentation to the Hobbs family and a special prayer. Later in the evening, the GMWA and the GAG usual shift gears with nightly musicals. Dennis Cole says, “We have had standing room only crowds some nights, even to the point when we have had to turn some folks away. So yes, it’s going great! When asked about the future of the GMWA, saying GREAT would be an understatement, if you were to peek into the conventions 2015 itinerary. Starting with the GMWA Board Meeting, the organization will be meeting during the same week as the 2015 Stellar Awards in Las Vegas, NV. Specifically, the GMWA will be meeting during Monday through Wednesday, March 23 – 25, 2015 and the Stellar Awards will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary on Thursday through Saturday with the taping of the Stellar Awards on March 28th at the Orleans Arena. In 2016 the news gets even BIGGER. Three conventions will be coming together including Edwin Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar, the Thomas Dorsey Convention and the Gospel Music Workshop of America. As for 2017, which will mark the 50th Anniversary of the Gospel Music Worship of America, the top two cities that are being considered as hosts sites are Los Angeles, CA and Atlanta,GA. During a short visit with the Gospel Announcers Guild, GMWA Chairman Bishop Albert Jamison said, “We downsized a bit this year to get our bills under control and thank God that’s exactly what has happened.” Congratulations to Chairman Bishop Albert Jamison, Gospel Announcers Guild ChairmanAl “The Bishop” Hobbs, Vice Chair Bishop Sam Williams, Gospel Announcers Guild Secretary Judy Neal and Gospel Announcers Guild Assistant Secretary Dennis Cole and the entire GMWA and GAG Board Members, Affiliate Presidents, Chapter Representatives, Instructors, Choir Directors, Facilitators, Panelists, Volunteers and Members on a successful 2014 Convention and Solid plans for 2015, 2016 and 2017 for the organization.