Birmingham, AL — The Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) celebrated its 49th Anniversary in Birmingham, AL with thousands returning and new registered participants. Affiliates, Associates and GMWA members from as far away as Japan, showed up with excitement and were not disappointed with non-stop activities, aerobics, classes, workshops, sessions, rehearsals, Luncheons, Praise Breaks, Sermons, Nightly Musicals, Youth Services, Movies, Exhibits and so much more.
The Sheraton and the Westin Hotel in downtown Birmingham served as this year’s duel host hotels. Their locations also provided guests fine dining options in several upscale restaurants just a few feet away. Classes throughout the week were also spread out from the Sheraton Hotel to the Birmingham Jefferson Civic Center with the Exhibit Hall serving as a central point with great vendors displaying the latest in fashion, to skincare products to CD’s and other music products.
In normal GMWA tradition, the week kicked off with GMWA members, volunteering their services to serve those in need throughout the Birmingham community. During the week you could also always catch a morning sermon with “Our Daily Bread”, the Nightly Service, the GMWA Youth Showcase or a Late Night Service featuring a special guest.
However ask anyone what was the highlight for the week and why they keep coming back and they will probably give you the same answer…”seeing old friends again.” We already know that networking for the week is simply part of the culture for the convention, however how often do you have the opportunity during a week to see old friends gathered from all over the country who love Gospel Music just as much as the next person. Because of that reason in addition to great classes, the opportunity to shine for a few minutes, or simply speak in front of your peers, it was truly a win-win situation for all.
Near the end of one of the first services for the week, Bishop Albert L. Jamison, Sr., Chairman, Board of Directors for the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc., spoke to the GMWA body with concern about a few issues and said that the things that need to be fixed, will be corrected and that anything less than excellent will not be accepted under his watch. His comments were met with applause and many nodding their heads in agreement. By mid-week, he also told The Belle Report that the Gospel Music Workshop of America would be welcoming Gospel Recording Artist Yolanda Adams as their newest Board Member.
Just down the hall was the GMWA Gospel Announcers Guild (GAG) that also had a non-stop schedule for the week. Under the leadership of Dennis Cole and Chris Squire, registration was up for 2016. This years summer session also included more classes including “Digital Social Media Connect”, Radio, Ownership, Showcases, Praise Breaks, a special presentation from the Sisterhood, under the leadership of Lydia Goodin, a movie and the Annual GAG Al Hobbs Luncheon.
One of the larger GAG showcases for the week took place on Monday night. Organized by Teemade’s CEO Kenny Taylor and hosted by Sheilah Belle, “The Belle” this became the kick off concert for the GAG week. Special guest performers included Lisa Page Brooks, Dr. Brenda Jefferson, Lowell Pye, Ruth La’Ontra, Chrystal Rucker, Eric Waddell & The Abundant Life Singers, David Wright & NY Fellowship Mass Choir, The Wardlaw Brothers, Damon Little, Angela “Missy” Billups, Kayo Bracey, LaMont Sanders, Anya Dixion, Leslie Clark, Tyrone Jefferson, Luther Barnes & Restoration Worship Center, Kelly & Kelly and the G Mack Choir from Chicago.
This year’s guest facilitators included Chris Squire, Sheilah Belle “The Belle”, Tracy Bethea, Sybil Sloan and Linda Greenwood. Special guest panelists included Bonita Bellamy, Ace Alexander, Carmina Barnett, Ronn Briggs, Connye Bryant, Andr’e Carter, April & Mike Chandler, Skip Dillard, Neily Dickerson, JMichael Francois, Eboni Funderburk, Vincent Hill, Rick Joyner, Gina Miller, Alex Snipes and more.
Special guests, speakers and performers included Gospel legend Edwin Hawkins, Pastor Paul Morton, Dorothy Norwood, the Virginia Aires, DeAndre Patterson, Pastor Juandolyn Stokes, Uncle Reese, Trisha Alicia, Tonya Lewis Taylor, the Echo Aires, Redeemed, Melvin Williams, Eternal Light Singers, The Lighthouse Singers, Lemmie Battle, Deon Kipping, Missy Billups, Daulton Anderson, Lisa Page Brooks, Monica Lisa Stevenson, Lisa Collins, Telisa Stinson, Mama Curtis, Earl Bynum and Vicki Mack Lataillade.
A special salute to Tyscot Records and Dr. Leonard Scott also took place during the week along with a presentation.
However the BIG announcement for week from the Gospel Announcers Guild was announcement on Thursday afternoon. The GMWA Gospel Announcers Guild has changed its name to the GMWA ALLIANCE Gospel of Music Professionals.
Congratulations to everyone who made the trip, participated for the week and who continue to pour into the Gospel Music Workshop of America, making it one of the largest organizations in the world to celebrate Gospel Music.
Meanwhile, stay tune as the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc. (GMWA), looks forward to their year of Jubilee, “50”. That’s right, their 50th Anniversary will be taking place next year, 2017 in Atlanta, GA. Stay close as we keep you up to date as more information is made available.