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Gospel concert 'awesome' time for crowd of 1,000

May 02, 2004|by LAURA ERNDE

laurae@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Minister Denise James kicked off an evening of gospel music Saturday with a heartfelt "Hallelujah!"

About a thousand people in the audience returned her enthusiastic call and the worship began.

Concert-goers came to hear Grammy-award winner CeCe Winans, who was joined by a variety of local singers and dancers, at the third annual Multicultural/Multiracial Gospel Concert on Saturday.

They gathered at Hagerstown Community College's Athletic Recreation and Community Center, where an enormous stage with two walls of speakers on either side provided the setting for a musical kind of Passion Play.

It was the first-ever concert for Payton Berry, 10, of Hagerstown.

"I'm excited," said Berry, who was dressed in a jeans skirt and matching shirt with black platform shoes.

Berry was there with her sister, Shanna Berry, who got the tickets as an early birthday present (she turns 18 today).

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Shanna Berry said she was looking forward to hearing Winans.

"I love her. She's an awesome singer. She has a wonderful voice," she said.

Carolyn Sterling of Hagerstown said she was there to see Winans and support some of the local artists she knows.

"It's wonderful they're bringing something like this to Hagerstown," she said.

When asked if the Saturday ministry was a prelude to Sunday church services, Sterling said, "I have church every day."

Many of the audience members felt the spiritual power, too, as they raised their arms, clapped and sang along with the music.

Delbert Pope and New Song from Destiny Baptist Church in Martinsburg, W.Va., was the first musical group to take the stage.

Pope's deep voice was punctuated by a chorus of nine backup singers, who chanted, "God is my light and my salvation."

The Covenant and Living Room Worship Teams from Shepherdstown, W.Va., and Martinsburg, W.Va., brought rock 'n' roll-style gospel to the house, with the lead singer asking the audience to "magnify the Lord with me."

"We worship you," she said, energetically hopping up and down and bringing the crowd to its feet.

The high-energy show was a contrast from the long wait people had to get into the show.

Doors were supposed to open at 4:30, but they didn't open until 6:15 p.m. because of a late sound check. The concert began an hour late.

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