Soul and Gospel stir the Bay area


TAMPA BAY – The Summer Breeze Music Festival got underway last weekend on both sides of the Bay.

The Hillsborough River and a beautiful sunset at the pavilion in Water Works Park provided the backdrop for Saturday’s show hosted by former BET comedian Red Bone.

Black Street, a quartet from Dayton, Ohio, provided the memory lane soundtrack of New Jack Swing soul with songs like “Let’s Chill.” Gibbs High School student Leatric Lamar also got a chance to showcase his soulful vocals. This talented young man has a bright future ahead of him.

Chubb Rock got the ladies up dancing and sliding across the grass with old school hip-hop, and as the setting sun settled over the park, Calvin Richardson tantalized the audience with hit after hit including “Hearsay.”

Former “Tower of Power” front man Lenny Williams arrived right at twilight. From the very first note, it was evident that he was born to sing. His smooth tenor voice mesmerized the crowd and whisked them off to soul heaven when he sung the 1978 hit “Cause I Love You,” which has been sampled by Kanye West twice!

The women swarmed around him like honeybees. Williams gracefully stole the show! He also stuck around to sign autographs and take pictures with his fans.

Shirley Murdock & Laughter Without Profanity

Sunday night’s showed featured the gospel through song, comedy and dance at the Palladium Theatre in downtown St. Pete. Darrien “Hia-Larius” Perkins jumpstarted the evening with a series of comedic vignettes based on his childhood experiences.

“I grew up in a church where people were trying to catch the Holy Ghost. I grew up thinking the Holy Ghost was trying to get away!” said Perkins.

Just as everyone was trying to catch their breath from laughing so hard, the young women of Expressions of Ministry from Southside Tabernacle Baptist Church took to the stage like powerful and graceful swans, decked out in purple and white.

They leaped, twirled and glided as if they were figure skaters creating a spiritual intimacy between audience and the stage. A hypnotic spell was cast over the audience.

Saxophonist Marvin Boone played a spiritually soulful version of “I’m Goin’ Up Yonder,” and Lamar, who performed both days, sang and played the keyboard.

When Legendary R&B/Gospel vocalist Shirley Murdock strolled gracefully to the center of the stage, the audience went wild. The Toledo, Ohio, native had a slew of Top 10 hits in the 80s, and in 1999 Bishop T.D. Jakes took Shirley her under his wing and featured her on his chart-topping album “Sacred Love Songs” and signed her to his label, Dexterity Records.

“God will take the mess of your life to fertilize your future,” said Murdock during a moment of reflection between songs.

She continued to minister through song with “Lord, You Reign,” and “I Love Me Better Than That.” During the last song, “Stand,” the Palladium transitioned from an entertainment venue to a house of praise and worship as people began to give thanks and praise to the Lord.

Murdock stayed after the show to sign autographs and take pictures with her adoring fans.

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