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Hartford's first African-American Gospel Fest seeks to unite history and communities

Remarks are made during a Wednesday press conference highlighting Hartford's African-American Gospel fest.
Maricarmen Cajahuaringa
/
Connecticut Public
Remarks are made during a Wednesday press conference highlighting Hartford's African-American Gospel fest.

The city of Hartford and the Greater Hartford Arts Council announced the first Gospel Fest in the city Wednesday.

Organizations such as the 224 Ecospace and the Conference of Churches are part of the collaborative efforts.

Shelley D. Best, who serves as CEO of the Greater Hartford Arts Council, said she is excited about the festival.

“Is an opportunity for people to come together and have the experience of Gospel music, and be right at the water, and we know it’ll be an opportunity to build something that will really make a difference in the community,” Best said.

Popular gospel music grew from the solo and responsive church singing of African American churches of the South. It gained in popularity in the 1930s and was connected to the development of rhythm and blues, according to the Library of Congress.

More than 35% of Hartford’s population identifies as Black or African-American and while gospel music has roots in religious faith, Mayor Luke Bronin said the event is for all.

“It doesn't matter what your faith is, it doesn't matter if you have a faith,” Bronin said. “This is about community, this is about music, this is about coming together to enjoy some incredible music by local and national artists.”

Rev. Lydell Brown, CEO of the Conference of Churches, spoke about the importance of gospel music in the black community and invited people from all faiths and backgrounds to join in the celebration.

“After all of the festivities we are going to offer prayers for this great city of Hartford,” Brown said.

Members of the public said this event is particularly important in light of the recent violent crimes in the city. Hartford resident Kobe McPhail said Gospel Fest is a way to unify and bring peace to the community.

“It makes me feel good to bring different demographics and age groups together to join forces together and start something new.”

Artists including Kymberli Joye from “The Voice,” Bethel Bloomfield Praise team, Shane Davis, and Anthony Smith and the Fully Committed will be performing. There will also be food trucks, and school supplies giveaways.

Organizers of the Gospel Fest hope that it will become a tradition in the city.

Gospel Fest will be taking place this Friday from 5 pm to 8 pm at the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza.

Maricarmen Cajahuaringa is a journalist with extensive experience in Latino communities' politics, social issues, and culture. She founded Boceto Media, a digital Spanish-language newspaper based in Connecticut. Maricarmen holds a Bachelor's in Social Work from Springfield College, and a Master's in Journalism and Media Production from Sacred Heart University. As a reporter for Connecticut Public, she is dedicated to delivering accurate and informative coverage of the Hispanic/Latino population in the region. Maricarmen is an experienced and passionate journalist who strives to bring a voice to the stories of her community.

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