April 17–25, 2010, the Kennedy Center celebrated the power of American Gospel music in Joyful Sounds: Gospel Across America, from established traditional artists to contemporary rising stars, brass bands and sacred steel guitar.
A major highlight of the celebration was the Signature Opening Concert. This all-star Concert Hall event was hosted by Grammy Award, Stellar, and Dove Award (gospel music's highest honor) winner Richard Smallwood. The evening included performances by Kirk Franklin, Shirley Caesar, and Take 6.
The celebration also included a Fortas Chamber Music Concert by mezzo-soprano Marietta Simpson; a concert by soul and gospel legend Mavis Staples; a National Symphony Orchestra concert with gospel legend Walter Hawkins and The Joyful Sounds Community Choir, members of the WPAS Men and Women of the Gospel Choir, with Rev. Nolan Williams Jr. as Artistic Director and Stanley J. Thurston as conductor; performances by New York–based gospel step teams Nubian Gents + Feminine Fire; and a number of Explore the Arts events.
What's more, there were nine days of free concerts ranging from Richard Smallwood and Vision to a Community-wide Hymn Sing to The Clark Sisters on the Millennium Stage.
Joyful Sounds: Gospel Across America is made possible through the generosity of the Charles E. Smith Family Foundation.
This project is supported in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.