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Hip-hop pastor plans gospel festival

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The Right Reverend Hezekiah Walker (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

A Grammy Award-winning artist plans to bring people together in celebration with a gospel festival in Bermuda this spring.

The Right Reverend Hezekiah Walker is on the island this week to promote the event, which he said appeared to be generating excitement.

He told The Royal Gazette: “I always wanted to come and do a big music festival, so we are coming back, calling it the Bermuda Gospel Fest for May 6 and 7.

“That’s what we are going to be doing. It won’t just be music; it will be workshops and workshop series.”

The Right Reverend Lloyd Duncan, of the New Testament Church of God, on Dundonald Street, noted there would be “great spiritual community involvement”.

Bishop Walker said yesterday: “I’m walking the ground and we are meeting with people, meeting with pastors. We had a meeting with certain leaders of the community today and it seems like everybody is on board.

“It seems like everyone is excited and they were all saying that since Covid, Bermuda needs something spectacular, it needs a coming-together, it needs a unification type thing going on — and what better to bring people together than gospel music?”

Although planning for the event is still in the early stages, Bishop Walker noted that it was hoped artists from Bermuda would be joined by those from the US.

Hezekiah Walker performs Every Praise at a private memorial service for George Floyd in 2020 (File photograph)

The bishop is well known as a recording artist, gospel singer and choir leader.

He has won two Grammy Awards and been nominated 11 times over the past two decades.

In the mid-1990s, he received his first Grammy for Live In Atlanta At Morehouse College in the category for best gospel album by a choir or chorus.

Bishop Walker clinched a second Grammy in 2002 for Love Is Live! in the same section.

At the 66th Grammy Awards, this year, he was nominated for best gospel song with God Is Good.

Bishop Walker boasts almost 500,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and is known as a “hip-hop pastor”.

He said: “The reason why I was accredited that name is because most of the hip-hop artists claimed that I was accessible. I was easy to talk to.

“When they come to our worship I make them feel like part of the worship and not as an outcast.

“They can come to me for prayer or just to have a conversation.”

Bishop Walker is a pastor of The Kingdom Church: Love Fellowship Tabernacle in Brooklyn, New York, and at its other location in Bensalm, Pennsylvania.

Years ago while on a cruise, Bishop Walker visited Bermuda and contacted Bishop Duncan to seek out a place to worship when travelling.

He told the Gazette that since then he “always wanted to do something major here”.

“We are back together again and I really believe it's for a greater purpose than just coming here and doing gospel concerts,” Bishop Walker said.

“The ultimate goal is to bring unification among our people. And for us to come under one umbrella and come under one roof, just be unified and have a good time; celebrate each other, celebrate life and just make sure that we are a staple in the community.”

Gospel music plays a large role in Bishop Walker’s life and he speaks with a genuine enthusiasm and love for it.

“We have music for anything that you are growing through or any dimension of your life,” he said.

“If you need a song of peace, if you need a song of comfort, if you need a song of celebration, if you just need a song of happiness and joy — we can find a gospel song that we can give you that can fit where ever you are in life.”

A location has yet to be confirmed for the gospel festival, but Bishop Walker explained that more information and the event’s “soft launch” could be found online at ckia.info.

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Published February 14, 2024 at 12:13 pm (Updated February 14, 2024 at 12:13 pm)

Hip-hop pastor plans gospel festival

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