Gospel Festival

The 26th Annual

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

National Holiday Gospel Festival


Monday, Jan. 18, 2016
4-9 p.m.


Founded by the late Corine G. Sims, Executive Director of the United Community Gospel Singers of Bloomington-Normal, Illinois
Co-sponsored by Illinois Wesleyan University

Day of Dreams Drawing

One lucky person will receive:

  • $250 cash
  • $25 gift card to the Wehrenberg Galaxy 14 Cine
  • $25 gift card to Swinger's Grille

Sponsored by Beck Memorial Home

Beck logo

Westbrook Auditorium, Presser Hall
IWU School of Music
1210 Park St., Bloomington

See the festival program


Free Admission

For more information, contact Carl Teichman, Illinois Wesleyan University, at (309) 556-3429 or Barbara Sims-Malone, President, United Community Gospel Singers, at (309) 706-6638

Directions to campus

Presser Hall is located on the west side of Park Street.

To access free parking across the street behind the Minor Myers, jr. Welcome Center, turn east on University Avenue


Persons with disabilities requiring any auxiliary aids, services or special arrangements should contact the University at (309) 556-3429


Corine Sims
Corine Sims 

Founded by the United Community Gospel Singers of Bloomington and Normal and co-sponsored with Illinois Wesleyan University, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Holiday Gospel Festival annually honors King with hours of gospel music by choirs from Chicago to Springfield, Ill.

The festival was launched in 1991 by Corine Sims of Bloomington, who died in 2007.

Martin Luther King Jr

King himself visited Illinois Wesleyan twice, in 1961 and 1966. A transcript and audio recording of King's 1966 speech at Illinois Wesleyan are available online.

In addition, the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Fellowship Dinner brought a host of inspiring speakers to Illinois Wesleyan during its history.



The "New Direction Choir" from Chicago were featured performers during the festival in 2007.
gospel singer
Kayjah Phillips of the Mount Pisgah Sunbeam Choir brought joy to the festival in 2006.


Joseph Lowery
Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder with King of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), spoke at the Fellowship Dinner in 2007.
Michael Pfleger
Rev. Michael Pfleger, social activist and Chicago pastor, spoke in 2008.



Past Fellowship Dinner Speakers
2015  Paul Bushnell, IWU Professor Emeritus
2014 Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State 
2013 Barry Scott, founder and producing artistic director, American Negro Playwright Theatre
2012 Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State, and Jesse White Tumbling Team
2011 Bob Zellner, Civil Rights Scholar and Author
2010 Thomas N. Todd, Civil Rights Attorney
2009 Jerome Ringo, Environmental Pioneer and President of the Apollo Alliance
2008 Rev. Michael Pfleger, Pastor of St. Sabina Catholic Church Chicago, social activist
2007 Rev. Joseph Lowery, co-founder Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC), Methodist Minister
Hear Lowery's Speech
2006 Keith Beauchamp, Documentary Filmmaker: “The Untold Story of Emmett Louis Till”
2005 The Honorable Wade McCree III, 3rd Circuit Court, Wayne County, Michigan
2004 Jesse White, Illinois Secretary of State
2003 Randell Osbourne, SCLC Foundation Executive Director
2002 Dorothy Cotton, Cornell University professor and civil rights activist
2001 Roger Wilkins, professor, journalist, SCLC leader.
2000 Thomas Todd, Chicago Civil Rights Attorney
1999 Doug Wilder, Former Governor of Virginia
1998 Morris Dees, Founder of the Southern Poverty Law Center
1997 Yolanda King, daughter of MLK
1996 Judy Richardson, co-producer “Eyes on the Prize”
1995 Vernon King, cousin of MLK
1994 Vernon King, cousin of MLK
1993 Bernice King, daughter of MLK
1992 Bernice King, daughter of MLK
1991 Martin Luther King III, son of MLK