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Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Kingsport’s Black History Month festivities start on high note


Stella Robinette says Saturday’s Gospel Fest is the kick-off event for Kingsport’s celebration of Black History Month.

“Our goal is to educate all people about black history and to bring in ethnic artists to showcase our heritage,” said Robinette.

Gospel Fest will begin at 7 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 29 in the Kingsport Renaissance Center, 1200 E. Center St. Tickets are $5 for reserved seating.

Some of the performers scheduled to appear include the choirs of Bethel AME Zion Church, the Bristol Lee Street Praise Team and Central Baptist Church and Praise Team, the TCB Singers (Tri-Cities Blessed), ADMC Singers, Greater Commission and Lynette Alley.

Kingsport native and up-and-coming comedian Xavier Hall will emcee the event.

Hall is a 1992 graduate of Dobyns-Bennett High School and has toured the country with a troupe of comedians that have been featured on BET’s "Comic View.”

But he hasn’t forgotten his roots, making previous stops in his hometown to do a couple of comedy concerts at Rascals. Hall’s brand of comedy, which he has labeled PG-13, draws from everyday life.

Robinette said she hopes an event such as Gospel Fest will touch the younger generations, too.

“This will be an evening of art and music. There will be something for everyone,” Robinette said. “We will have art up in the gallery and the atrium by ethnic artists. We hope some of our youth will come out to this event.

“We want the young people to see that there are other professions out there besides football or basketball. For a lot of kids, especially the boys, their goal is just to play sports. They think art is ‘sissy.’ We want to show them this is not true. I’d love for our youth to start showcasing their own talents more.”

Kingsport’s Black History Month celebration will continue with Barter Theatre’s production of “The Eye of the Storm” at 7 p.m., Feb. 3 in the Renaissance Center. Tickets are $20, or $19 for students and seniors. HOPE (Help Our Potential Evolve), a day featuring free workshops on topics ranging from cooking to drumming, face painting and a Wii competition, will be held from noon to 3 p.m., Feb. 19 at the Renaissance Center.

For more information about Gospel Fest or to order tickets, visit