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Honoring Gospel Music Legends Edwin Hawkins and Hezekiah Walker, Philanthropist and Kennedy Center Trustee Reginald Van Lee and Congressman G.K. Butterfield

 Featuring Gospel Music Performances by Donald Lawrence, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark-Sheard, Charles Jenkins, Allen Chapel A.M.E., One Accord Choir,Stacy J & Unified Praise and the WPAS Men and Women of the Gospel Choir

Dr. Bobby Jones

Source: Dr. Bobby Jones / Dr. Bobby Jones

(Dr. Bobby Jones tapped as this year’s co-host)

HOUSTON, TX – September 9, 2016 – The Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation (@gmhmonth) is proud to announce its eighth annual “Evolution of Gospel,” which commemorates the month of September as Gospel Music Heritage Month (GMHM). The celebration will present inspirational and exhilarating music performances by some of Gospel music’s biggest stars and honor individuals who have made significant contributions to the rich legacy of Gospel music in America. The “Evolution of Gospel” was held on Monday, September 12, 2016 at 7 p.m. EDT at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington, D.C. The event is free.  Interested persons can obtain tickets by visiting

This year’s honorees included: composer/producer/vocalist Edwin Hawkins; Grammy® Award-winning singer/composer and choir leader Bishop Hezekiah Walker and philanthropist and Kennedy Center Board of Trustee Reginald Van Lee.  In addition, The Gospel Music Heritage Foundation will pay tribute to Congressman G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus.

The awards event will be hosted by Grammy® Award-winning gospel music singer and television host Dr. Bobby Jones and Stellar Award winning musical artist Lonnie Hunter.  Presenters include Deborah F. Rutter, president of the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Musical tributes will be rendered by some of the most anointed gospel vocalists and choirs, including, McDonald’s Gospel Inspirational Tour artists Donald Lawrence, Marvin Sapp, Karen Clark-Sheard, Charles Jenkins, Canton Jones, Johnathan McReynolds, Doug Williams, Allen Chapel A.M.E. One Accord Choir, Stacy J & Unified Praise, and the WPAS Men and Women of the Gospel Choir. The event will be produced by Ernest Walker of Walker Entertainment Group.

In 2008, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX) introduced historic resolution, H.J. Res. 90 which established September as Gospel Music Heritage Month across the nation.  Advocates joining Congresswoman Lee in support of the recognition were gospel music advocate Carl Davis; UP TV Founder and President Charley Humbard, and entertainment executive Alvin Williams. With additional support from Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), the bipartisan passage of the bill helped to usher in a new national focus to honor gospel music for its valuable and longstanding contributions to the culture of the United States.  Subsequently Congresswoman Lee led the effort with Carl Davis to create the Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation that celebrates gospel music annually and honors the music as a national treasure.

Congresswoman Lee said of the event, “I am excited as we prepare to celebrate the 8th Annual Gospel Music Heritage Month Celebration at the world renowned Kennedy Center. The Gospel Music Heritage Month Celebration is the nation’s singular event of significance commemorating gospel music history.  This year presents one of our best celebrations as we honor four of America’s greatest advocates and beneficiaries of gospel music. Gospel music has a prominent place in the history of America and it has impacted the entire world for generations.”

Carl Davis, chairman of the Gospel Music Heritage Month Foundation stated, “This year the “Evolution of Gospel” will honor two gospel icons, Edwin Hawkins, Bishop Hezekiah Walker as well as Kennedy Center Trustee & philanthropist Reginald Van Lee and Congressman G. K. Butterfield all for their contributions to the fabric of this nation. The efficacy of these individuals has impacted the genre of gospel music with historical relevance and meaning. They have indelibly written on the consciousness of the human spirit the unyielding power of the gospel through song.”

This year the Gospel Music Heritage Month’s “Evolution of Gospel” joins McDonald’s 10th Annual Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour.  The “Evolution of Gospel” is sponsored by Southwest Airlines, Reginald Van Lee, Walker Entertainment Group and Faith Based Communications.

Previous distinguished honorees of the “Evolution of Gospel” acknowledged for their major contribution to the legacy of gospel music, include gospel icons and trailblazers: Rev. Shirley Caesar, Rev. Andraé Crouch (posthumously) and Richard Smallwood; Grammy® Award-winning gospel artists Kirk Franklin and Yolonda Adams; civil rights pioneer Rev. Jesse Jackson; Senator Blanch Lincoln (D-AR); Chairperson and Founder of Radio One Cathy Hughes; President and Founder of UP TV Charley Humbard; Chairman and CEO of Central City Productions and producer of the Stellar Awards Don Jackson; Congressman John Lewis (D-GA), who was honored in conjunction with the Foundation’s salute to the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington; and, CEO of Capital Christian Music Group Bill Hearn.

Courtesy of