By Tony Jones
Special to The New Citizen Press
On Friday, Feb. 28, East Lansing gets to enjoy the rising surge of message music as the pioneering Hopeville Tour – United As One presentation brings the biggest gospel music tour in history to the Breslin Center, offering the perfect occasion for families to celebrate Black History Month together.
Since the advent of rap and hip-hop, the black community has been embroiled in a passionate, often ugly debate that has created a generation gap not seen since white parents reacted in shock to the Woodstock generation. As the debate rages on, many African Americans long for the days when everybody from the younger generation to grandma and Uncle Ed were drawn together by the music at birthday parties, cookouts and reunions.
But just as it seems the cultural rift was growing wider, along comes the Hopeville – United As One tour to explode all the misconceptions of the modern recording industry. Yes, families can enjoy music together as huge, enthusiastic, all ages audiences have made Hopeville a pioneering attraction, proving why gospel music is getting bigger everyday. While the rest of the music industry is seeing a slump in sales, industry chronicler the Recording Industry Association of America reports that gospel music sales rose nearly 20% in the past year.
Built on the vision of Kirk Franklin and featuring Yolanda Adams and Donnie McClurkin, Hopeville presents an unprecendented line-up of award winning talent for a night of high energy praise and celebration that is sweeping the country. The tour was originally scheduled for 35 cities through November, 2002, but the excitement has created a phenomenon demanding performances across the nation, and even generating interest for European tour dates. Audiences have come away mesmerized not only by the breadth of the music, but the unifying presentation of the program.
Explains Franklin, who created and directed the production, “The magic of Hopeville is that it’s a West Side Story type of production. It looks like a Broadway musical, where we are three interacting throughout the whole event. There’s singing and dancing, some theatrical moments, some choreographed moments. It’s really a whole musical experience.”
Beginning with a short film, Hopeville becomes a story of phenomenal depth and brilliance as three of gospel’s biggest artists impart a unified theme of spiritual triumph. Even with all the brilliant lighting, Broadway style stage dressing and special effects, nothing outshines the message as the audience learns the parable of Hopeville as the all ages audiences end up shouting, dancing and hugging each other in joy and wonder of the phenomenal talents bringing forth the unifying theme of hope and belief.
February 9, 2003 – February 22, 2003 Edition