For many Madisonians, the annual Fall Gospel Fest is one of their favorite events and has become Madison’s premier Gospel music event. For 16 years, talented musicians and artists have traveled to Madison from all over the world to perform in front of live audience and to celebrate a day of fellowship, great music and cultural heritage.
Like most everything else in Madison and the rest of the world, Fall Gospel Fest 2020 will be a virtual event this year that will be held Saturday, Dec. 12, at 7 p.m. Organizer Clyde Gaines, who founded the event because of the lack of Gospel in Madison, is a little disappointed that there won’t be the usual exciting live performance aspect.
The silver lining, I tell him, is that this year’s Fall Gospel Fest will be a “global” event.
“Haha, yes. I guess I wasn’t thinking about that, but people will be able to tune in all over the world. In that regard, it will be a global event. You leave the limited venue and you go into the unlimited venue,” Gaines laughs. “It’s just a matter of getting the word out to people and hopefully they will show up to hear it.
“It’s going to be very different for us this year, for sure. The thing that makes Fall Gospel Fest what it is is the people and the interaction between the artist and the audience, that give-and-take and that presence. It’s really unbelievable. We will miss that this year,” he adds. “But it’s still going to be a remarkable event with some really great musicians.”
For the past 16 years, Clyde Gaines has been producing the Fall Gospel Fest and working to bring the biggest and brightest stars in the gospel music industry to Madison like Marvin Sapp, Tasha Cobbs, Tamela Mann, Jonathan McReynolds, Charles Jenkins, and more. The event was created “to bring people and community together through inspirational music regardless of background, age, culture or economic status.”
“This event has been amazing over the years and it continues to grow and get better. It’s become a staple of Madison and the state of Wisconsin,” Gaines says.
Gaines started the Fall Gospel Fest as he watched top Gospel artists perform in Chicago and Milwaukee, but never quite making it to Madison. It just wasn’t as big here in Madison as it was in big cities. Madison had no Gospel radio station, for example. Gaines saw the need to fill the void.
“There was not much going on in terms of Gospel here – that was the whole impetus to bring something like this to Madison,” he says. “We have a few things happening – mainly in the summer with local artists, which was great – but we just wanted to make something with a little more of a national scope and bring national artists to Madison.”
This year’s Fall Gospel Fest will feature JJ Hairston, Harold Rayford and Chanise Michelle.
“JJ Hairston is a Grammy-nominated artist. Harold Rayford is an award-winning artist, too, and world-renowned saxophonist,” Gaines says. “We have a rising star out of Chicago by the name of Chanise Michelle who has a jazzy, soulful sound.”
Fall Gospel Fest 2020 will be virtual and it will be free.
“Free is the key word,” Gaines smiles. “People who are interested can click on the Eventbrite or Facebook link.
“I know we will get our regulars who attend every year, but I’m hoping to get a new audience who get a chance to see the types of artists that Fall Gospel Fest brings to Madison. It’s really good music regardless of whether you are Christian or not,” he adds. “It’s just great music and great singers and a wonderful sound.”