Fred Hammond, known as “The Father of Urban Gospel,” will headline Butler University’s 26th annual Gospel Fest Feb. 7, at 7 p.m. in Clowes Memorial Hall, with special guests Hezekiah Walker and Le’Andria Johnson.
It’s tradition each year for the Butler Gospel Fest to remember those in the gospel world who have died. This year, the late Al “The Bishop” Hobbs and Andraé Crouch will be memorialized, said Gospel Fest organizer Valerie Davidson. Hobbs lost his battle with cancer in July 2014. He was vice-chair of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) and chair of the Gospel Announcers Guild.
Born in Detroit, Hammond began singing in his church choir at age 12. He played bass and sang with the Winans during the early ‘80s, then joined Commissioned later in the decade. Hammond’s concurrent solo career began in 1991 with “I Am Persuaded.” Hammond set up his own label imprint, Hammond Family Entertainment, and released the CD/DVD set “Life in the Word” in 2010. “God, Love & Romance” followed in 2012.
Brooklyn, N.Y. -based Pastor Walker was the leader of the Love Fellowship Tabernacle Church Choir, one of the most prominent choral groups in contemporary gospel. Debuting in 1990 with Crusade Choir, Walker and his singers rapidly became star attractions on the church circuit, earning a Grammy for 1994s “Live in Atlanta at Morehouse College.” Recent recordings include “Souled Out” (2008) and “Azusa: The Next Generation” (2013).
Johnson has a Cinderella story. A twice-divorced single mother of three, the musician was enduring hard times and about to lose her home to foreclosure. Then, a friend convinced her to drive to New Orleans in a borrowed car to audition for the cable TV show “Sunday Best.” Johnson was declared the winner at the end of the show’s third season in 2010, a ranking that came with cash, a car, and a recording deal. A debut seven-song EP, “The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson,” was released in 2011, followed by a second seven-song EP, “The Evolution of Le’Andria Johnson,” in 2012. A second full-length, the live “The Experience,” also appeared in 2012.
Tickets are available at the Clowes Hall box office and Ticketmaster.
For more information, contact the Butler University Office of Diversity Programs at (317) 940-6570 or visit: cloweshall.org/events/upcoming/event/335-26th-annual-gospel-fest.