Richmond, VA – When it comes to Gospel music in Richmond, VA, Gospel Music Legend, Larry Bland is a household name. Famous for bringing one of the top choirs to hit the city in the 70’s and 80’s, the Volunteer Choir and the founder of the Virginia State University Gospel Choir, Bland’s history with Gospel music is rich.
He is known for setting the standard and continues to be known for his stage presentation and his many contributions to the Gospel music Community.
To celebrate his many contributions and his love for Gospel music, a special tribute for Larry Bland will be held on Sunday, July 15 at 5:00p.m. during the 3rd Annual Gospel Music Fest with The Belle. This special presentation and tribute for Mr. Bland, hosted by Dr. Bobby Jones and Sheilah Belle, will take place at Dogwood Dell in Byrd Park in Richmond, VA and is absolutely FREE!
Larry J. Bland, a native Richmonder, is a highly respected musician, arts administrator, producer, performer, and business professional. Mr. Bland’s multi-talents have been revealed in his accomplishments as a trailblazer in his innovations in gospel music presentation, being among the very first nationally to introduce choreographed, “gospel show choir” formatted performances.
In addition, he has received numerous public service and outstanding arts administrator awards for his accomplishments in directing and coordinating special events, most notably serving as the first black to direct the City of Richmond’s June Jubilee Festival in the early 1980’s.
He has directed the Volunteer Choir for the past 40+ years, touring extensively on the East Coast, appearing in Los Angeles before The Late James Cleveland (1981), garnering numerous awards and critical acclaim for his unique brand of musicianship and presentation. He has also directed various choirs within sacred music programs for many churches in the Richmond, Virginia and Washington, D.C. metropolitan areas.
He is a 1977 graduate of Virginia State College, receiving his B.S. Degree in Vocal Music Education. During his matriculation at VSC, he most notably founded the Virginia State College (University) Gospel Choir (1972).
He has worked professionally in the legal and entertainment industries where he contributed greatly to the success of the launch and ongoing success of the Discovery Channel’s partnership with the British Broadcasting Corporation on the domestic and international level, coordinating programming summits and providing administration in London, France and Singapore. He also planned and coordinated the launch event for TV-One.
Mr. Bland has several Richmond-based recordings to his credit and has accomplishments also in the secular community, having partnered his talents with the Richmond Symphony, Richmond Opera Company, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, City of Richmond Department of Parks and Recreation, United Way, March of Dimes (to name a few) and most notably with the Commonwealth of Virginia’s May 2007 Royal Welcome to Queen Elizabeth. He has also led his group in performances before former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, along with special guest appearances at The Wolf Trap Amphitheater, Constitution Hall, RFK Stadium and The Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Bland has received critical acclaim for his theatrical portrayals of “Purlie ” in the musical of same title, his musical directorship of productions of “The Amen Corner”, “Don’t Bother I Can’t Cope”, as well as Chorus Master for The Richmond Opera Company’s premiere production of Scott Joplin’s opera, “Treemonisha.”
Mr. Bland’s ongoing commitment to the preservation and presentation of traditional and contemporary gospel music is most noted in incorporation of The Volunteer Choir as a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization. The organization continues to present limited concerts and special appearances under Mr. Bland’s artistic direction.
Prior to his 2010 return to the Washington, D.C. area to provide administrative management for an entertainment law firm,Mr. Bland provided two years of administration and operations management assistance for Paradigm Communications’ Richmond Free Press, a black-owned and operated newspaper in Richmond, Virginia.
He is currently serving as Artist In Residence on the music staff at First Baptist Church (South Richmond, VA) where he directs the Praise Team Ministry. Mr. Bland is also serving the Richmond church community as a solo artist, choral/music director and workshop facilitator.