Concert to Celebrate Chicago’s Place in Gospel Music History

Note: This story has been updated to reflect a change in the concert’s location. 

Chicago is known as the birthplace of gospel music. 

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Many of the genre’s pioneers — like Thomas Dorsey and Mahalia Jackson — called the city home.

Today the music is celebrated worldwide, far beyond the Black churches where Dorsey and Jackson got their starts.

Some of gospel’s biggest stars are coming together for a night of performances in the city where it all began.

Pastor John Boston from Shiloh Seventh Day Adventist Church is hosting the event and described the power of gospel music in his life.

“Gospel music is the soundtrack of my life,” he said. “I love that no matter where I go in the world, I hear remnants, elements that resonate with what gospel music is all about. And it’s about community.”

The word gospel means “good news,” and Boston said that message always comes through.

“Some of the foundational elements of gospel music are rooted in where America has come from, where African Americans have come from, where people of poverty have come from,” he said. “And I think interwoven into the American story is the sound of gospel because it reflects the power of community to say, ‘We have faced difficult trying adversity, but we have overcome.’”

As the genre evolved to incorporate the jazz, R&B or hip hop sounds it once inspired, the message is one that he said extends far beyond the church.

Karen Clark Sheard, Lamar Campbell and The Spirit of Praise, Smokie Norful, and the Chicago Mass Choir will be a few of the featured performances during the Gospel Showcase, which will take place at Shiloh Seventh-Day Adventist Church, 7000 S. Michigan Ave., on Tuesday, April 23 at 6:30 p.m. 

Tickets can be purchased at

For more about Chicago’s place in gospel history, watch “Chicago Stories: The Birth of Gospel” and explore its accompanying website.

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