Eye On Gospel: Long Time Coming
After an eight-year hiatus, it appears Dr. Bobby Jones of (Bobby Jones Gospel) has heeded the calls of gospel artists and executives to bring back his renown Gospel Artist Retreats.
The star-studded lineup for the much-loved gospel insider event reflects both its enduring popularity as well as how much it was missed. Those set to appear during the three-day confab set for October 16-18 in Nashville include Yolanda Adams, Vickie Winans, Dottie Peoples, Byron Cage, The Williams Brothers, Ricky Dillard and Kim Burrell. That’s it thus far as the event is still in the early planning stages, but Jones has said that it is catching on fast via word of mouth.
“Anyone who hears about it is like, ‘Oh yes, let’s do it,’” Jones says of the excitement surrounding the event. “When they heard about it, the GMA (Gospel Music Association) called us and asked us to have the dates to coincide with their event so that we could join forces and create even greater synergy and Nashville was the perfect place for it as it’s more centrally located.
“As it stands many of the artists who come in for the Dove Awards will already be in town and the GMA is also planning a brunch for us on that Tuesday. We will end that day early and those who want to go will join them at the Dove Awards and they will provide some VIP tickets for those who are coming to the retreat.”
Bobby Jones Industry Retreats were launched over two decades ago to give the artists a forum in which to network, showcase and share issues of importance to them in a vacation setting, with previous retreats held in Las Vegas and Florida with many of the performances broadcast on his BET show, Bobby Jones Gospel. While extremely popular amongst artists and industry insiders, the growing cost and responsibilities weighed so heavily on Jones that he stopped holding the retreats.
“This time,” Jones said, “I’m getting a great deal of help with people like Phil Thornton and Sheila Belle volunteering to do things, the GMA joining forces, and of course having it here in Nashville makes it easier for me. We’re still in the planning stages, but it’s exciting. We’ve moved into a great position with the Impact Network and they’re in a great position with Comcast, so the showcases will air on that network,” said Jones, whose gospel show currently airs on the network. “We’ve decided to help these black men build their satellite network.
“More than that, I’m happy that I’ll get to see my friends in one place and talk about some things that we do. We want to love on each other and network to help each other because the industry is moving in another way.”
Later this month in Atlanta (July 22-28), the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc. will celebrate its 50th national convention this year. Organized in Detroit in 1968 by the late Rev. James Cleveland, it has grown to become the largest convention of its kind in the world. Highlights will include a 50th Anniversary Banquet, social media forum, the Al Hobbs luncheon, a newly-launched Hip Hop division, performances from artists like Jekalyn Carr and Vashawn Mitchell, an international showcase with artists coming from the United Kingdom and Africa and special tributes to the late Rev. Charles H. Nicks, Jr and the late Kenny Taylor.