By Jeff Noble, Staff Writer
Three weeks from today, the hill where The Arena in Corbin sits will come alive with the sounds of Gospel music.
That’s because plans for the first-ever Corbin Gospel Music Concert are now in place.
The concert will be held at The Arena on Friday, April 26, at 6:45 p.m. Ten local Gospel acts will perform at the concert, which organizers said would run about two-and-a-half hours, ending at 9:15 p.m.
Those groups and singers scheduled to perform will be The Believers Quartet and the Kentucky Mountain Trio, along with Josh Teague and Friends, and Straight Creek. Two sets of what’s being called a “Talent Showcase” will also feature Timothy Maynes, Harlan Sexton and Gospel Grass, and Gary Cureton; as well as Peggy Inks, Donna Isaacs and Cara Miller.
After a welcoming and invocation, the concert will start off with the singing of “God Bless America” by Abbi Disney, a sixth-grade student from Corbin.
Organizers said it is a first for Corbin, and a first for The Arena. The Rev. John Burkhart said during a press conference Thursday they hope the concert will be an annual event.
“This event is based on belief, based on the Gospel, and based on the music of the words of the Gospel. … We’ve been working on this event for ten months. … This is a profound proclamation of our faith and of coming together for the Lord. We’ll celebrate the Gospel in music,” noted Burkhart, who is the president of Corbin Gospel Music Concert, Inc., a non-profit organization that’s putting on the show.
Since his retirement as pastor of Saint John’s Episcopal Church in Corbin, Burkhart has helped as a promoter of concerts featuring Gospel music singers and groups. During the press conference, he said the Tri-County has an “enormous bond” with the music, and that the region is filled with lots of good, local talent.
By bringing the music and talent to a venue such as The Arena, Burkhart thought the timing for a large concert was now.
“I love the Gospel, and how it is sung. I love the simplicity of it. The basic core of the Gospel is there, and that Jesus is the Savior and is God’s son. Anyone can step up and be involved in it, or sit back and listen to music that touches them and pulls them together. We have two gifts, an enormous endowment of Gospel singers, and the extraordinary and unique facility that we have in the Arena. Together, it’s a great promotion for Christian unity and a great promotion for the community,” he said after the conference.
“One of our goals was to give these folks a chance to be on a big stage in front of a large audience. Over 150 talent groups have been on the stage at St. John’s when John (Burkhart) had the shows at his church. The talent’s been just as good as anywhere, but it’s never been showcased,” said Janus Jones, the secretary of the organization and program chairman for the April 26 concert.
The organization’s vice-president, Bob Terrell, said the idea about the gospel concert came about over a conversation he had with a friend at a Corbin restaurant.
“We were discussing the state of the world over a cup of coffee one morning, and it came up about the wealth of talent we have locally. We felt that those who are in the churches have a tremendous amount of talent in our region. We looked at a program in Tennessee that’s been going on for 32 years, and it’s a big event. We thought, we’ll start out little, but someday it could grow and prosper over the years,” he pointed out.
Terrell added Corbin Mayor Willard McBurney had expressed an interest in a local Gospel music concert, and knew that Burkhart had talked about such a show being held in the city for a long time.
McBurney will welcome the audience to the concert after Disney’s performance of “God Bless America.”
The Arena’s manager, Connie Hunt, will serve as concert hostess.
“Connie Hunt has been a tremendous help with the concert. In fact, she will serve as the emcee. She’s made powerful contributions to this event,” Burkhart said during the press conference.
The organization’s treasurer, Herman Moore, brought up a question about why admission is being charged for the concert.
“People have asked, ‘Why are we charging for this event?’ That’s because we have bills to pay. Renting The Arena for one night, insurance, promotion, expenses. We’re not trying to make money, we’re a non-profit organization,” he said.
Burkhart added, “It’s a big event that costs $7,000 to put on, so we’re doing everything we can to get the word out.”
He said several churches and groups have been contacted about buying blocks of tickets, and getting a reduced price by doing so. Moore reported one church from out of the region — Frankfort Baptist Church in the state capital of Frankfort — has already bought 160 tickets for the concert.
Individual ticket prices are $8, with children under 12 getting in free. Groups of 15 can purchase seats at $5 per ticket and they’ll be recognized as Bronze Sponsors. Those who purchase 25-49 tickets will be recognized as Silver Sponsors, while those who purchase 50 or more tickets will be recognized as Gold Sponsors. All three sponsor levels will also be recognized in the concert program, which will include a photo and information about each of the individuals and groups appearing on stage.
Tickets are now on sale at The Arena box office in Corbin, or through Ticketmaster outlets or online at www.ticketmaster.com. You can also call Ticketmaster at 1-800-745-3000 for ticket information. For group ticket purchases, you can call the Rev. John Burkhart at 606-521-0345. And if you need concert information, you can call 606-280-5494, or go online at www.thecorbinarena.com.
Burkhart summed up the concert three weeks from today by saying, “These last two or three weeks, we’ve had to sprint to the finish line. It takes a lot of effort to bring this all together. Anyone who has an appreciation of the Gospel, and appreciation of music, will find this program a profound experience. It’s all the same message, and we praise the same Lord. It’s His event.”
Peggy Inks, a Gospel music singer from London who along with her husband Don are on the organization’s concert board, added, “I want to thank everybody here for letting us be a part of this. When you sing a Gospel song, you reach somebody.”