Gospel radio station's Praise Fest '98 draws 10,000 to city Christian center


When staff members at Baltimore's Heaven 600, the country's No. 1 gospel station, began to plan their "For Sisters Only" festival this year, they ran into a snag.

Because Heaven 600 is being sold by CBS Radio, which holds the rights to "For Sisters Only," the station found it couldn't use the concept.

So station staff decided to expand the idea by staging Praise Fest '98, which drew more than 10,000 WCAO-AM Heaven 600 listeners Saturday to the Higher Dimensions Christian Center, a church and hall in a building that formerly housed the Palladium catering hall on Liberty Heights Avenue in Northwest Baltimore.

Next month, Radio One's Majic 95.9 WWIN-FM will sponsor another festival, the Stone Soul Picnic, at Druid Hill Park. The event Aug. 15 will feature the gospel group the New Jersey Mass Choir.

Saturday's festivities featured local and national gospel singers and groups, a health fair, a fashion show and activities for children.

Tammie King-Kelly, promotions director for Heaven 600, said once station staff members had to refrain from holding "For Sisters Only," "We still envisioned doing an event, so we decided to make it more community-formulated. We took it into the city, the neighborhood and we decided to make it a free event with free parking that would leave people with more money to spend at the vendors."

Praise Fest '98 featured nationally known gospel performers such as Deniece Williams, the Rev. Isaiah Thomas, Kevin McFadden and the group Trinitee 5: 7. The event included seminars on "How to Publish," "Professional Development & Career Image" and "How to Manage Your Money."

Gospel choirs competed for a chance to be on a commercial for Stop Shop Save Food Markets. Morning Star Baptist Church in Catonsville took the top prize.

Based on the success of Praise Fest '98, Heaven 600 intends to make it an annual event, said King-Kelly. "Baltimore can definitely look forward to us doing it again next year," she said.

Pub Date: 7/29/98

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