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Gospel Fest begins fifth season

BY GIANNI UBRIACO It's always nice to take a walk along the boardwalk by Ramsey Lake and listen to all the beautiful sounds of birds chirping and kids playing, but Saturday evening there were echoes of gospel music .
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Members of Emmaus Disciples performed at yesterday's Gospel Fest in Bell Park.

BY GIANNI UBRIACO

It's always nice to take a walk along the boardwalk by Ramsey Lake and listen to all the beautiful sounds of birds chirping and kids playing, but Saturday evening there were echoes of gospel music .

The Gospel Fest began its fifth season with the first in a series of three programs at the green gazebo at Bell Park.

Local talent and artists from as far away as North Bay performed gospel music, including contemporary, country, soul, and jazz.

"Gospel music has travelled a long way; there's so many varieties of contemporary music these days," says the event's originator Amy St. John.

"It's not just the old hymns, which are just beautiful, but there are all different kinds and flavours and we like to bring that to the people. That way, they're aware that it's changed a lot."

The series is sponsored by K 95.5 FM, Northern Ontario's Christian Station.

"There's something for everyone," says St. John. "It's a beautiful setting and it's a nice family outing as well."

There will also be a second event held at the same location Aug. 12.

That event will feature the All Nations Church Worship Team: Ron Wittman,  Dan Barei, Allan Erkila, Stephanie Desjardins, B. Shannon Ross, and Erin Mahood.

The final event will be held Sept. 9 and will include the Glad Tidings Tabernacle Worship Team, Disciple d'Emmaus, Lisa Tyers and Amy St. John, Lorrie-Ann and Carl MacDonald, Dorothy O'Bonsawin, Michelle and Pat McGuire, and the Phil Auger Band.

In the case of rain, the events will take place at the All Nations Church.

"Bring your family, bring your kids, drag your neighbour, bring your lawn  chair and a blanket and come and enjoy," says St. John. "I'm sure there's  something they'll find and they'll enjoy."

The Gospel Fest is expanding outside of Sudbury. The musical celebration will be going to North Bay on July 8 at the Kiwanis Band Shell. That event will feature the C-Denny Band,  Dale and Tammy Carlson, Colette Cook, Jeff Wood, Liisa Tyers and Amy St.  John, the Phil Auger Band, and Karrie Emms. If that event is rained out,  it'll take place at the First Baptist Church.

As each year goes by, St. John says she hopes to feature new, up-and-coming local talent, as well as some big name artists.

Either way, she said Gospel Fest is something that is needed, wanted and well-received.

"I've seen God move a lot," she says. "If God wants something done, everything falls into place. The doors will open and He'll make everything available.

"It brings a lot of joy, healing, and peace," she continues. "It's a chance to thank the Lord and praise Him, and it transforms people's lives and helps them become better people.