FAMU Homecoming Gospel Concert brings the praise

The Walls Group
Photo submitted by Ciara Mims

The Al Lawson Center was filled with praise, laughter and tears on Oct. 7 as students, alumni and local congregations gathered for Florida A&M University’s Annual Homecoming Gospel Concert.

The show was hosted by Jacquell “The Apostle” Lawson, who is the host of The Morning Praise Break on 98.3 FM. Lawson opened the show with a prayer declaring deliverance and breakthroughs in the audiences’ lives. Performers included The FAMU Gospel Choir, The Walls Group and Fred Hammond.

Darien Bolden Jr. a sophomore music education major and member of The FAMU Gospel Choir, led a song during the gospel choirs’ performance and took the time to explain what this performance meant to him.

“We’ve been preparing for the concert since the first week of school. It’s always humbling for The FAMU Gospel Choir to get the chance to minister in front of living legends,” Bolden said. “I was very humbled and very thankful for another opportunity to be back and sing with my beloved gospel choir family.”

Bolden then expressed his hope that young audience members will realize that it’s still “cool” to worship God.

The FAMU Gospel Choir, which has been in existence for over 60 years, performed after the opening act and prayer. The choir performed over three songs and audience members were gathered near the front of the stage with raised hands and stomping feet by the end of their performance.  Choir members left the stage and joined the crowd when they were done performing.

Soon after, The Walls Group took to the stage. The Walls Group entered the stage full of energy and gathered a crowd almost immediately. They performed over three songs, including their hit “Satisfied.”

Kimani Jackson, a sophomore vocal performance major, had been anticipating The Walls Group.  He was very impressed with the group’s performance.

“I was so excited to see some fresh faces from my generation,” Jackson said. “They were crazy. Those are some sangin’ people.”

The group held dance and praise breaks throughout their performance and offered encouraging words to the audience. They left their audience completely satisfied and in hopes of an encore.

Erika Johnson, a sophomore vocal performance major, was amongst those in the audience.

“I love The Walls Group, but as a fellow Texan, I always saw Fred Hammond perform around the Dallas community. Not only as a signer but as a musician,” Johnson said. “Fred Hammond is untouchable.”  

Fred Hammond, otherwise known as “Uncle Fred,” joined the stage next with his five background singers. Uncle Fred performed over three songs as well, including one of his prominent hits, “No Weapon.” He took the time to have an intimate conversation with the audience before performing his final song.

Hammond shared his testimony with much comical relief and still managed to sprout tears from audience members’ eyes.

“Greatness is not about how could you do it; greatness is about why you do it,” Hammond said.

Hammond then expressed that his struggles still exist. He promoted his new CD and announced that a biopic film is in the works for the former group, Commissioned. Hammond closed with his song, “We’re Blessed.”

Johnson described the concert as “unforgettable” and explained that she is grateful to have been able to serve God amongst her friends.

The nearly four hour gospel concert was “The Experience” that ended homecoming for many students, faculty and alumni. Attendees are eager to see what’s in store for next year’s gospel concert.