Filed under: My POV
My introduction to Free Gospel Sundays (the ongoing series of performances at the Knight Concert Hall which in its 2 ½ year history has been attended by more than 11,745 people) came in the form of an idea written on paper. Specifically, it was a 150-word Knight Arts Challenge application from the Adrienne Arsht Center. I had no idea that those few words would manifest themselves into an unbelievable, joyful experience that I will never forget.
At the time, I was an intern at the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation helping to run the Challenge, a contest that seeks out and funds the best ideas for the arts in South Florida. In their allotted 150 words, the Adrienne Arsht Center managed to captivate my imagination. You can picture it – the Knight Concert Hall filled with local gospel choirs, along with the added bonus of a nationally recognized Gospel singer, buses to bring in the community from all over the county and free tickets to those who wanted to attend. Of course, I thought it was a great idea, but it didn’t prepare me for the actual experience.
The afternoon I attended, the Knight Concert Hall was alive with energy. Not just on stage, but throughout the crowd. You could feel it from the minute you got close to the hall. The concert was standing-room only. All tickets had been given away weeks in advance. People were arriving in droves. Not just the traditional arts patrons and not just the friends and families of the performers, but people representing the full spectrum of Miami’s diversity were pouring into the Knight Concert Hall. One of the most memorable sights were the ladies getting off buses, adorned with beautiful, large hats (a scene that inspired a short film by Dennis Scholl, Marlon Johnson and Chad Tingle entitled Sunday’s Best, which premiered at a later Free Gospel Sunday).
As I sat back and thought about my experience, from the words on paper to the gorgeous music emanating from the stage, I realized how amazing it was that Miami had this opportunity. Free Gospel Sundays affirmed for me that positive things are happening in Miami. Great ideas are becoming reality. And the community will come together, especially when the music moves them.
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