Jackson is becoming a major hub for contemporary gospel music. Known for blues, jazz and quartet gospel music, Jackson is being earmarked as a place for some of the nation's top gospel singers to perform live in concert while promoting and touring.
Jackson will come alive and claim its position on the gospel concert circuit as worshippers gather to lift the name of the most high during the Gospel Music Experience Conference April 21–23 at the Greater Tree of Life Baptist Church on Monticello Drive.
Making his third appearance is Chicago-native Malcolm Williams. Other national artists scheduled to appear include Tye Tribbett and VaShawn Mitchell. A host of local artists, including Larissa Tate, Dathan Thigpen and Cedric Robinson are also scheduled to perform.
"I'm so excited to be back in Jackson and offer what God has given me," Williams said.
Event coordinator and host Ben Cone said Williams is back by popular demand. "The city loves him," said Cone.
Fresh off a live DVD recording, Williams combines the artistic expressions of dance and drama to declare total authority unto God. His latest offering, which is currently untitled, was recorded in Chicago with his 40-member choir, Great Faith, and includes music icons such as Angela Spivey, DeAndre Patterson, Rickey Dillard and Kim McFarland.
The project is set to be released later this year and features 12 songs, 11 of which were written by Williams. Songs to look for include, "Until He Saved Me," a duet with Williams and Patterson, an old-time classic "I Need Thee Every Hour" and "Due Season," which features the awesome vocals of McFarland.
"'Due Season' is a powerful testament to waiting on God to move," Williams said. "When you've been laboring and sometimes you wonder, 'why haven't I moved to the next level in my ministry, the next level in my finances, the next level in my walk?' It's then when God makes it clear that in 'Due Season' it will happen," Williams said.
Not only a gifted singer and choir director, Williams is known around the country for his ability to pen powerful and compelling songs for other artists. He has written more than 75 songs, two of which will be featured on the upcoming release by gospel veteran Dottie Peoples.
"I actually have been blessed to write for a lot of people including Dorinda Clarke-Cole, Rodney Bryant and others, but it first happened with Angela Spivey and the song 'Under the Blood.' Since then, God has opened the flood gates and I'm walking in my destiny," he said.
Spivey agreed and called Williams one of the best songwriters in the gospel music industry. "I'm doing a recording in June and I'm waiting on a new piece from Malcolm. In fact, one of the songs he did for Dottie Peoples should have been mine," Spivey said with a hearty chuckle.
As if music weren't enough to keep Williams busy, he also can be found daily on the streets of Chicago and around the country catering to the needs of people through his outreach ministry.
"Our outreach ministry started in 1996 and to date we have given food to the homeless, worked with a ministry called Helping Hands and delivered 150 pair of socks to children that really needed them," Williams said.
The concert at Greater Tree of Life Baptist Church will not be Williams' and Cone's first encounter. In 1997, they were both finalists at a Wrigley's Gospel Choir Competition in Chicago, particularly because they have similar directing and presentation styles.
Like Williams, Cone, who is soon expected to make an official announcement about his recent signing with the Malaco Music Label, also writes, having penned the song "I've Got a Grip," on the soon to be released album by Mosie "Moma" Burks of the Mississippi Mass choir. Both men are also ministers of music: Williams is music and arts assistant at Salem Baptist Church in Chicago and Cone is a minister of music at Greater Tree of Life Baptist Church.
Organizers said the Gospel Music Experience Conference is an opportunity for all gospel music enthusiasts to come together to learn, share and to receive the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.
"While this is a music conference, the word will be going forth," Cone said. "I want people to walk away saying they had an encounter an experience with God."
Local media personality Othor Cain is the JFP's new gospel columnist. E-mail him at [e-mail missing] or mail materials to JFP Gospel, P.O. Box 2047, Jackson, MS 39225