News & Events

Annual Gospel Festival to Celebrate King's Legacy

BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — The 29th annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Gospel Festival has been rescheduled from Monday, Jan. 21 to now take place Monday, Feb. 18 due to inclement winter weather.

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Teach-In will continue as planned on Monday, Jan. 21 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Presented by Illinois Wesleyan University and the United Community Gospel Singers of Bloomington-Normal, the Gospel Festival – which honors and celebrates King’s legacy – is free and open to the public. It will run from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 18 in Westbrook Auditorium of Presser Hall, 1210 Park Street, Bloomington.

The Gospel Festival will feature performances by The Fantastic Jones Family of Springfield, Illinois, The Reverend D’angelo A. Person of Chicago, Xavier and the Anointed, and The United Gospel Singers of Bloomington-Normal Mass Choir. Additional performers include the Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church Adult and Sunbeam Choirs, BACAI-School of Art Praise, and the Union Baptist Church Adult Choir. This year’s festival will pay special tribute to the life of Reverend Frank L. McSwain, who served for 35 years as the lead pastor of Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church in Bloomington.

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. spoke at Illinois Wesleyan in 1961 and returned to the University to speak in 1966 after receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. These were King’s only two visits to the Bloomington-Normal community. The annual MLK Teach-In at Illinois Wesleyan on Jan. 21 also honors King.

The Gospel Festival was founded in 1991 by the late Corine Sims and her husband, the Rev. James Sims, with Illinois Wesleyan and the United Community Gospel Singers as co-founders.

To make arrangements for persons with disabilities requiring auxiliary aids, services or special arrangements, please contact Carl Teichman, Illinois Wesleyan’s director of government and community relations, at (309) 556-3429. More information about the festival is available from Teichman or Barbara Sims-Malone, executive director of the United Community Gospel Singers, at (309) 706-6638.

This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.

By John Twork