6-3-2006 22nd Annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival in Millennium Park and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion. Tamika Ross, choir member, belts out Gospel music with the backup of the Evangel Assembly of God Choir of the Evangel World Outreach Center of Chicago in the background. Photo by Dom Najolia, Chicago Sun-Times
Updated: January 30, 2012 10:28AM
Gospel singers have something new to praise — the Chicago Gospel Music Festival is back for 2012 after being folded into the Taste of Chicago last year.
The festival returns as an expanded stand-alone event with a new Bronzeville location, the city’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events announced Wednesday.
The 27th Chicago Gospel Music Festival will run June 21-24 at a variety of locations around the city. The main stage events will take place the weekend of June 23 and 24 on the former site of the Ida B. Wells public housing project, on South Martin Luther King Drive between 37th and 39th streets.
“There’s a push to reach out to all the neighborhoods,” said Cindy Gatziolis, the department’s spokeswoman. “This one seems natural to go back to the birthplace where modern day gospel music was born.”
Gatziolis described the vacant area that once held the notorious projects as “a festival ground waiting to be born.”
Thomas A. Dorsey, known as the father of gospel, helped launch the genre merging Christian lyrics with jazz and blues at Pilgrim Baptist Church at 33rd and Indiana. The church was destroyed in a fire in 2006. The songwriter behind “Take My Hand Precious Lord” and “Peace in the Valley,” Dorsey died at the age of 93 in 1993.
The 2010 Gospel Fest was held for only two days at Millennium Park. The 2012 version is modeled after the Chicago Jazz Festival, which offers different performances scattered throughout downtown locations including Millennium Park, the Chicago Cultural Center and Grant Park.