All-Star Gospel Celebration to kick off NBA All-Star weekend

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The 17th Annual All-Star Gospel Celebration will kick off the NBA All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis at the Madam Walker Legacy Center on Feb. 15, 2024, at 7 p.m. (Photo provided/ASGC)
The 17th Annual All-Star Gospel Celebration will kick off the NBA All-Star Weekend in Indianapolis at the Madam Walker Legacy Center on Feb. 15, 2024, at 7 p.m. (Photo provided/ASGC)

The Madam Walker Legacy Center will be transported back to the 1920s Harlem Renaissance as the 17th annual All-Star Gospel Celebration (ASGC) kicks off the NBA All-Star weekend.

The award celebration and gospel concert will kick off a jam-packed weekend of parties leading up to the anticipated game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse on Feb. 18. Honoring NBA players, legends, community leaders and hometown heroes, the ASGC includes performances from Grammy-Award winning musical artists, NBA chaplains and celebrity guest appearances on Indiana Avenue Feb. 15 at 7 p.m.

“What better way to kick off than with an inspirational story of just highlighting people and talking about insurmountable circumstances and how you can survive,” said Tomeka Holyfield, creator and executive producer of ASGC.

In 2005, Holyfield set out on a one-woman operation to start the first gospel-themed concert to take place ahead of the NBA All-Star Game. Her goal was to create an event with longevity that would inspire and uplift the local communities hosting All-Star Games. However, the event grew to become the official NBA All-Star Weekend kickoff event and has been celebrating local legends in each hosting city every year since.

“What we do is we highlight NBA players, NBA legends, community leaders,” Holyfield said. “We just tell their story of how they are rolling up their sleeves and how they have really made it on their faith of believing in tomorrow, having hope, having a great anticipation of what the future holds.”

The theme of this year’s All-Star Gospel Celebration is #SelfMade, highlighting the work and dedication of the NBA’s self-made legends and hometown heroes. Hosting the kickoff at the Madam Walker Legacy Center is the perfect way to pay homage to the first female self-made millionaire and the rich history of the City of Indianapolis, Holyfield said.

However, Holyfield is trying something new in planning this year’s kickoff. Keeping with the theme of #SelfMade, Holyfield brought in a team of local, Black, female entrepreneurs to help plan and coordinate the kickoff. She said this allows the city more opportunities to be involved with All-Stars Weekend and hopefully bolsters its businesses during and after the game.

READ MORE: 2024 NBA All-Star weekend in Indianapolis updates

Holyfield and her team have planned a night of glitz, glamor and gospel, complete with a valet and red-carpet experience, VIP entry reception and 360 photo booth all under the lights of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance.

“I’m hoping that this brings back a sense of community, a sense of unity, a sense of excitement because, you know, the world just got out of a [pandemic], so many people were full of anxiety and depression,” Holyfield said. “I mean, this is gonna be like the Oscars, and at seven o’clock, the lights are gonna go out and it’s going to be magical.”

NBA veteran and former National Basketball Players Association VP Maurice “Mo” Evans will host alongside three-time NBA All-Star host Jacinda Jacobs. Among the honored guests and award recipients are Indiana Pacers power forward Oscar Tshiebwe and Mike and Kyra Epps — who will be presented with honors for their work in Indianapolis on “Buying Back the Block,” Holyfield said.

The All-Star Gospel Celebration Kickoff will feature performances from Grammy Award-winning artist Maverick City Music’s Dante Bowe, Kelontae Gavin and Stellar Award-winning gospel saxophonist Angella Christie.

Christie, known as the first female gospel saxophonist in the world, will make her return to both the All-Star Gospel Celebration Kickoff stage and Indianapolis when she joins the other performers on historic Indiana Avenue for All-Star Weekend.

“I like the idea of being able to come and play where many others have had the platform to play, and I’m able to come and take my sax — an instrument that many people love — and to express my devotion for God, my love for Christ, my love for music, and blend it all together,” Christie said. “To be able to play at the Madam CJ Walker Theatre is phenomenal because it’s historical.”

Although the celebration aims to highlight NBA legends current and past, Christie said the event is also meant to uplift the hardworking entrepreneurs in the local community in Indy — including those taking the initiative to pursue their dreams and “have tenacity to not let anybody talk you out of whatever it is that God has put in your mind and in your heart to carry out.”

“I hope they walk away inspired, uplifted and encouraged … I think we need a lot of that nowadays, especially for the generation that’s coming up behind us,” Christie said. “I think everybody needs to be uplifted, and I think with the 1920s theme, it’s gonna give everybody an opportunity to dress up and, you know, come out and go to a red-carpet event that’s just going to be dazzling.”

The All-Star Gospel Celebration takes place at the Madam Walker Legacy Center Feb. 15 at 7 p.m. Tickets are available on Ticketmaster, but the event is first come, first served. For more information, visit madamwalkerlegacycenter.com.

Contact staff writer Chloe McGowan at 317-762-7848. Follow her on Twitter @chloe_mcgowanxx.