In an effort to spread the good news of Jesus Christ through the medium of music and raise funds for a national relief effort benefiting tsunami victims, national and local artists will gather May 6 at 6 p.m. at the University Park Auditorium on the campus of Jackson State University.
Carolyn Coleman, project director, said she was commissioned by vice president Roy DeBerry to pull together this benefit. "We are sending a plane filled with clothing, food and other supplies to this part of the world for relief. In addition to that, we will present a check to aid those victims," Coleman said.
Coleman has been working with children for most of her adult life. She has served as a librarian with the Jackson Public School District and is currently the director of Kids Kollege at Jackson State University. "When I was asked to help, for a minute I was hesitant to get involved. Then it hit me like a ton of bricks: 'this was what I had been praying for,'" Coleman said. "So I jumped up and started calling on people that I knew could help me and those people that had a heart for God."
One of the calls made was to Harvey Watkins, Jr. of The Canton Spirituals. National gospel artist Harvey Watkins and the Canton Spirituals, a world renowned quartet group from Canton, are excited to be apart of this program.
"I wanted to do something personally for the children over there, and this was the perfect vehicle to make that happen," Watkins said.
Watkins, a member of Verity records based in New York, has been singing since the age of 5 and is following in his late father's (Harvey "Pop" Watkins Sr.) footsteps.
"My daddy laid the foundation for a lot of what other groups are doing now," Watkins said.
For more than 40 years, The Canton Spirituals have blessed thousands across the nation with their unique harmonies and heartfelt songs. Within the last 10 years, the quartet has captured the attention of the gospel music industry at large. Since their hit 1993 album "Live in Memphis," Watkins has the lead The Cantons to national prominence with a progressive sound that reaches all demographics. Several albums and cities later. The Cantons continue to merge traditional quartet vocals with contemporary and infectious music.
Watkins stepped outside his comfort zone with The Cantons and recorded his first solo project at his home church, Spring Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Raymond. The offering "It's In My Heart" will go down as an ensemble of Watkins along with family friends and colleagues in the industry.
"This was an opportunity for me to do something different and to challenge myself," Watkins said.
Always willing to give, Watkins is excited about raising monies for the children of the tsunami flood storms. "Some of them have nothing, and we are walking around blessed everyday to do what we want, and eat what and how much we want," he explained. "I encourage everybody to get involved in this effort and let God direct what and how much you can give."
Other gospel notables join Watkins in his efforts including Air Gospel recording artist Evelyn Turntene-Agee, Malaco recording artist Lillian Lilly and a full slate of local talent.
The event will feature a children's choir under the direction of gospel powerhouse Lannie Spann McBride, who for years has broken gospel barriers and touched the lives of many in Jackson and around the country.
"We are going to have a glorious time in the name of the Lord," McBride said, while beseeching for everyone to get involved in this effort.
For more information on this concert and other events happening at Jackson State University, contact the Office of Public Information at 601-979-2272.