OPA-LOCKA — Recording artist Beau Williams headlined the first Gospel Explosion concert sponsored recently by the Opa-locka city commission, in partnership with the city’s Parks and Recreation Department and hosted by Commissioner Rose Tydus.
Williams struck a note, especially with his signature song, the mega-hit Wonderful, that resonated beyond Sherbondy Park, 380 Bahman Ave., to neighboring communities, captivating the elderly, the young, the church congregation members, families and passers-by.
Tydus was pleased. She said in trying to encourage families to attend the concert, she had hoped to bridge musical gaps and create multi-generational dialogues and an appreciation for new and old-school gospel music.
Williams, who grew-up in Houston, Texas, the son of a Baptist preacher and choir director, defined his performances in music and in movies as “doing what I have been called to do.”
He encouraged the audience to tune in to Christian stations airing his movie Pain which tells the story of two drug dealers and the pain they experience “seeking that Ghetto fame.”
“Our young people are so influenced by that lifestyle and this is a tool that God is using mightily to win young people to Christ, because they won’t come to your church,” Williams said of the movie.
He said the film is also being screened at church and public school tours on Friday nights and “on every Christian network in the country” and in more than 170 nations.
“Gang-bangers around the world are getting saved,” Williams said.
Williams, a major star on the gospel circuit, defeated the 13-week champion Sam Harris on the television show Star Search in 1984.
But, while they scored a coup in getting Williams to perform, the organizers of the Gospel Explosion said they took care to ensure that both older and younger residents would enjoy the show.
“Each performer will share some of the unique qualities and messages found in gospel, with those who are listening tonight,” Tydus said.
The artists included a band of young, talented musicians and vocalists called Sensere, a Spiritual Praise dance group, Holly Hip-Hop Rappers, Poetry, Worship, and an appearance by the Youth Choir of Stanton Memorial Baptist Church.
Local stand-up Christian comedian “Grandma” Althea “The Bag Lady” Tate joked about older men night-clubbing, laced-weaves and edges, self-bondage and stories about almost every item in her “shopping cart” from the “Jesus Christ Stop & Save” store.
Tate also sang about the “New Wave” churches, where young choir members wear khakis and “wife beater” shirts, while reaching out to their peers through a “different” type of “message in the music.”
“Jesus is my homey,” she sang, “kicking it with me all the time.”
Lightning and thunder threatened the concert but the only adverse weather was a few light showers.
Tydus said after several days of heavy rains, she resorted to prayers. “I asked Him,” she said, pointing to the sky, “to hold back the rain for the night, so the concert would be a success, and He did.”
Photo: SHAWN WILLIAMS/CITY OF OPA LOCKA
GOSPEL TIME: Famed gospel performer Beau Williams, center, is flanked by Gospel Explosion organizing committee member Edna Hardy, left, and Opa-locka City Commissioner Rose Tydus during his appearance at a recent concert in the city.