Albuquerque, NM, July 23, 2008—In a press conference on July 8 at the Historic KiMo Theatre, Mayor Martin J. Chávez announced that the first-ever Gospel Music Festival held in Albuquerque, and perhaps the first in New Mexico, will be presented at the Harry E. Kinney Civic Center Plaza on Sunday, September 28, 2008 from 1:30 – 9:00 p.m.
Working with a steering committee comprised of community and church leaders, Mayor Chávez has been involved in developing plans for this major celebration of Gospel music that will feature dozens of performance groups from throughout the U.S. and Canada. Two stages will be filled with choirs, groups and solo performers throughout the event, climaxing with a performance by Grammy® and Dove Award recipients “Israel and New Breed,” who will headline the event with a style that has made them one of the most popular gospel groups in the U.S. and beyond. Leader Israel Houghton is a Christian worship leader and singer, mostly known for his cross-cultural style of Christian music that fuses elements from Gospel music, Jazz and Rock. Houghton is also a worship leader at Joel Osteen's Lakewood Church in Houston, TX, the largest church in the U.S.
His project Alive in South Africa, recorded live in Cape Town, received a Grammy® Award for "Best Traditional Gospel Album" in 2007 and two songs from the album, "Not Forgotten" and "Turn It Around,” received a Dove Award for "Contemporary Gospel Recorded Song" in 2006 and 2007 respectively. Both his album Live from Another Level and rendition of "Again I Say Rejoice" received a Dove Award in 2005.
In addition to “Israel and New Breed,” performers will include local, regional and national gospel artists in what will be a day-long celebration of the genre that spawned many major talents. Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Whitney Houston and many, many more mega-stars began singing in gospel choirs, transitioning the feeling and nuances of gospel into the pop culture. Even today’s Hip-Hop performers often feature elements from the Gospel genre.
Mayor Chávez and the faith-based community supporting the launch of this major event emphasized that the Albuquerque Gospel Music Festival is not a religious event, but a true celebration of the history and current contributions of gospel music to American life. People of all faiths, or no faith, are encouraged to attend and enjoy the soaring sounds and joyous expression of an authentic American music form.
In addition to two stages featuring continuous entertainment, the Gospel Music Festival will include fun activities for the whole family—delicious foods and beverages for purchase, inflated bouncers for kids, face painting, and much more.
Bring the whole family and enjoy a day and evening of music and fun. Seating will be is available, and visitors are also invited to bring their own lawn chairs. Alcoholic beverages and glass containers CANNOT be brought to the Plaza.
Presented by Mayor Martin J. Chávez and the Cultural Services Department,  the First Albuquerque Gospel Music Festival is one of many City-sponsored outdoor events offered free of charge to area residents and visitors. Visit or call 311 to learn more.  For additional information, including mobility needs, assistive listening devices, or ASL interpreters, please call (505) 768-3556 or 311.  TTY users may call Relay NM at 1-800-659-8331 or 711.