Twenty-five Southern gospel acts from across North America will perform in Red Deer during Canada’s Gospel Music Celebration this week.
The Thursday to Saturday event at Westerner Park in Red Deer remains the largest gospel music gathering in Canada, said co-organizer Gord Reimer of Didsbury.
“We want to provide people with entertainment, and to encourage them and give them a little inspiration,” he added.
The 11th-annual celebration brings together well-known U.S. ensembles, such as The Hoppers, Legacy V, Booth Bros., Triumphant and The Isaacs, as well as, for the first time, The Whisnats of North Carolina.
Among the Canadian gospel groups are Father’s Daughter and The Royal Heirs out of Vancouver, Abbotsford, B.C.’s Sweet Presence, Chilliwack, B.C.’s One Heart, and Saskatchewan’s Double Portion.
Alberta groups include Medicine Hat’s Roset Singers and High Valley, from Le Crete. Red Deer is represented with Potters Clay and Jordan Echoes.
“We will have all Southern gospel groups, from mixed-groups to quartets and family groups,” said Reimer.
One of the Saskatchewan ensembles, The Hunters, is made up of five hockey-playing brothers.
The oldest one, J.J. Hunter, briefly played with the Edmonton Oilers before being sidelined by an injury, he added.
The master of ceremonies is Jerry Goff, who will give a little sermon-like talk each day that’s funny as well as inspirational, said Reimer, who took over running Red Deer’s annual gospel celebration with his partner Wayne Dyck of Chilliwack about four years ago. It was previously operated by an American company.
Reimer said attendance has risen about 10 per cent a year ever since.
He hopes to see about 5,500 people a night, or about 15,000 over the three days of this year’s event.
The gospel celebration is being planned as a family event, so children 18 years and younger can get in free by calling 1-800-410-0188 for complimentary tickets.
Tickets for adults are available in various groupings, from three-day full access packages for $122, to $38 single evening concert passes, to $20 afternoon showcase tickets (the prices all including service and handling charges). Tickets are available from Ticketmaster or online at www.gospelmusic.ca