The walls didn’t come crashing down at Bethel University’s Benson Great Hall as some thought just because famed rapper Snoop Dogg performed at the annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration.
Snoop performed two songs from his forthcoming non-secular album, Snoop Dogg Presents the Bible Of Love, including “Blessing Me Again” accompanied by Rance Allen of the Rance Allen Group and Clark Sisters backing them up. The CD is scheduled for release in March.
Later, R&B singer Faith Evans joined him. It was his first live performance after he announced that he was coming out with a Gospel album.
“This was a night to be remembered,” Allen told the MSR after his on-stage duet with Snoop. He and Evans among other notables also appear on the rapper’s album.
Earlier on the ‘red carpet,’ Allen told us, “I’m happy to be singing with Snoop Dogg and spend time together” recording the album. “I just sense a spirit of change on him. He has always loved the Lord, but like a whole lot of us, he ran from the Lord. But I believe he is on his way back.”
“I think people are shocked that Snoop has a Gospel album coming out,” Evans noted. “I can’t repeat it enough — he is such a beautiful spirit. Snoop is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met, let alone in the music industry. I know that his heart is what God looks at anyway,” she stressed. His album “has wonderful (Gospel) artists on it, and they all respect him.”
“I take criticism head-on. I love criticism,” Snoop Dogg told the MSR during his red carpet appearance when asked about some questioning his sincerity given his reputation. He also noted, “Everybody in the church isn’t right.”
Last week’s show, which was taped for rebroadcast on BET, also featured the NFL Players Choir, which comprises of 40 current and former players. The group, now in its 10th year, annually performs at the Gospel Celebration, now in its 19th season. Award-winning singer Donnie McClurkin sang with the group this year.
“The choir to me is a wonderful thing,” Stephen Pierce (Cleveland, 1987) said. “It’s the camaraderie, like being back in the locker room with the guys, being back on the field.”
Sounds of Blackness, Sheila E. and Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell also performed at the event, which showcased uplifting music and inspirational messages from current pro football players. The concert was co-hosted by actress Yvonne Orji of HBO’s Insecure and Pastor John Gray, who has a show on the OWN cable channel.
In addition to the music, NFL stars Russell Wilson of the Seattle Seahawks and Larry Fitzgerald, Jr of the Arizonal Cardinals were presented with
The Celebration serves as “the legitimization of a part of a cultural fabric,” Gray said. “I just think the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration is the opportunity for the faith community to become relevant to mainstream culture. This is a wonderful opportunity not only to look at Gospel music as an art form but also as a form of expression of a people and a group now more than ever.”
Finally, Snoop Dogg’s presence at this year’s event left no one in attendance last week at Bethel unsatisfied.
“It’s a year’s worth of work culminated into one night,” said Melanie Few, the show’s creator and executive producer. She told the MSR before the show that next year’s show, her 20th Gospel Celebration, would be even better.
“The 20th is [in] Atlanta,” the host city for the 2019 Super Bowl, she concluded. “That’s my home. It is going to be a ball — a Southern ball!” Few predicted.
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More photos below courtesy of Getty Images for Super Bowl Gospel Celebration
Charles Hallman is a contributing reporter and award-winning sports columnist at the Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder.