Thousands who enjoy gospel music are expected to converge on Atlanta during Valentine's weekend for the 17th Annual Gospel Heritage Praise & Worship Conference. This is the largest international Gospel event held during Black History Month.
The two-and-a-half day confab will kick off on Thursday, Feb. 14 with daytime educational seminars and workshops, as well as nightly events. Several Gospel "A-listers" will make appearances throughout the weekend.
The entire event will be held at the Changing a Generation Full Gospel Baptist Church, 3350 Greenbriar Parkway, S.W.; Atlanta, GA 30331, where the host pastor is Bishop Paul S. Morton Sr.
Grammy, Dove and Stellar award winners will take part in the weekend events, including Bishop Hezekiah Walker ("I Need You to Survive"), Vashawn Mitchell ("Nobody Greater"), William McDowell ("I Give Myself Away"), Donald Lawrence ("The Best is Yet to Come"), Ricky Dillard ("God is Great"), Wess Morgan ("I Choose to Worship") among others.
Gospel singing choir ByGrace will travel from Stockholm, Sweden to take part in the conference.
Highlighting each nightly event is an awards presentation segment. This year, featured among the awardees on Thursday, Feb. 14 will be Edwin Hawkins, known as "The Father of Contemporary Gospel Music." Hawkins is famous for his arrangement of the hymn, "Oh Happy Day!" which has been featured in Whoopi Goldberg's "Sister Act 2," with then-15-year-old Ryan Toby singing lead. The song also appears in "Big Momma's House," "Nutty Professor II: The Klumps," David LaChapelle's 2005 movie "Rize," Robin William's 2007 movie "License to Wed," and in 2010 biographical film produced by Walt Disney Pictures: "Secretariat."
On Friday evening, the flurry of awards will culminate with a presentation to one of the most outspoken and controversial proponents against injustice of the current era, the Rev. Al Sharpton. Also, being saluted that evening will be Pastor Jasper Williams of the Salem Baptist Church of Atlanta, who served with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The event ends on Saturday morning with a final address from Grammy award winner, Bishop Hezekiah Walker, known world-wide for his many gospel musical hits including "Grateful," "What a Mighty God We Serve" and more.