By: Brenda Underwood

Dateline: September 21-25, 2005, Detroit, MI.

7th Annual Singers and Musicians’ Conference

Detroit was on hand as Dr. Dorinda Clark Cole presented the 7th Annual Singers and Musicians’ Conference on September 21-25, 2005, at Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ (GEI) at Seven Mile and Schaefer in Detroit. The theme of the conference was: “What is Your Ministry About?: Contract or Covenant? Money or Ministry?” The answer to the theme question was provided throughout the conference workshops and services. Along with those sessions, there were nightly services where various choirs and artists came together to share the “good news” of Jesus Christ.

Dr. Cole’s vision of supplying a venue for unsigned musicians and singers to share the talents the Lord has given them is bearing much fruit. One of Dr. Cole’s dreams has been to have a Singers and Musicians’ Conference Choir, which sang to the glory of God nightly. Some of the selections were written by Minister Ernest J. Lee, Minister Carl B. Phillips, Joe Smith and many more.

On Wednesday night, the conference was blessed with the Word of God being delivered by one of God’s newest generals on the forefront of the fight, Minister Tye Tribbett. “No way” were we able to stay in our seats as Minister Tribbett came real and explained that satan knows we won’t bow to worship him, and since he was over the heavenly music before being cast out of heaven, he is using the music to influence our children along with the saints. He stated that when he was at one of the BET awards shows, one of the rap groups came on stage and called for homage to be paid to slain rappers Notorious B.I.G. and 2pac. He said the masses around him stood and applauded. Min. Tribbett said if the masses can give those types of “shout-outs” to artists that were not lifting up Jesus, surely he could give God the glory on stage. He stated that when he went to minister; God received all the honor, glory and praise. He further shared that later in his dressing room, many artists such as Omarion, Marques Houston and others stopped by to thank him, and Omarion discovered the answer to his question, “You can act like that in church?” Min. Tribbett also dropped the bomb that these secular artists with their foul lyrics stay in business because a lot of their music is being purchased by the saints. He later had the church participate in a “deleting party” in which he challenged the congregation to take out their cell phones and in their address books, delete the numbers of people from past relationships that they needed purged from their lives and should no longer be dealing with.

On Thursday night, the Prince of Worship and Praise, Elder William Murphy, blessed us mightily. He thought his sermon was prepared, but after Kevin Gray, one of the winners of the new artist showcase from Dr. Cole’s 2003 Conference, blessed us with “Amazing God”, a song he had just written, Elder Murphy took the song and we went into “heavenly” praise and worship. Elder Murphy stressed several points, but the one that stuck out most for this writer is that we can be anointed to minister to God’s people and still not be in the place that God wants us to be in to go to the next level. Elder Murphy said that the church does not always disseminate the correct information as given by the Word of God. Church (or “church folk”, I would think) will have you believing that when God’s people are going through circumstances or situations, it’s because we’re not living right. He stated that there were times when he knew he was living right, but was still going through things. He later found out what was hindering him from entering into God’s presence. Elder Murphy shared that we have to sow into our spiritual fathers or mothers in the ministry. He said he found out that when you sow a seed (or make a connection with your spiritual father or mother), you allow the Lord to bless you because you are now connected to the same source that is blessing the man or woman of God. So if you want to go to the next level where God will trust you with His glory, get connected to your spiritual father or mother.

On Friday night, with the work week ending for must of us, we entered into the service with the Grand Diva of Gospel, Pastor Shirley Caesar, who brought a Word from the Lord. The sanctuary was packed and overflowing as the singers came forward with the good news in song. Then the Pastor preached. Her topic was “Comforting, Coping, But God.” Pastor Caesar told us that we go through life in comfort zones and we cope with some issues because no other outlet to rid ourselves of the circumstances has presented itself…. but God. Pastor Caesar shared a situation where she saw an elderly lady attempting to pay her bills and using her limited resources. Pastor Caesar told the lady to give her the bills and sit down to rest, and she would handle the payment of the bills. The lady attempted to give her some money for the bills, but Pastor Caesar didn’t accept it. After making the payments for the lady, Pastor Caesar gave the lady the paid receipts, and the Lord told her to give the lady all of the money she had on her. Pastor Shirley told the Lord, “Now Lord, I already paid all of this lady’s bills, now I know You don’t want me to give her all the money I have on me, You can’t be serious.” She said the Lord directed her to do as He asked her and she said grudgingly she did. She went back to her office and told the secretary what had just transpired and that the Lord told her to give the lady every dime she had. The secretary said, “Oh no, Pastor, not every dime you had because you just got a royalty check in the amount of $60,000”….but God. Then Evangelist Cole took the mantle and continued in the sermon (I have only witnessed one other set of ministers who did a “tag-team” sermon, where the next minister continues in the vein of the sermon left by the other) and the flow continued in the blessing.

As the nightly service was drawing to an end, the youth of the conference were getting started in the Urban Musicafé that was held across the hall from the sanctuary in the fellowship hall. Many youth and young adult groups signed up for every genre of gospel from singing to rapping to liturgical dance.

On Saturday afternoon, The New Artist Showcase went forward, with contestants coming from various states: Arkansas, Ohio, Maryland, New York, New Jersey and of course, Michigan. Some of the participants were: The Nelson Sisters, Brandon Hollis, Sister Sylvia Vincent, Generation Reborn, Mary Wynn, Frank Stewart, Redeemed, Don G. Jackson and Praise Ministry, and Donald Underwood (no relation to the writer) to name a few.

There were several categories the artists were judged in: Best New Soloist, Best New Group, Best New Artist in the Youth Category, Best New Hip-Hop Artist and Best New Overall Artist. The participants were praising God in all of the categories; some sang, some rapped, and some were poets (Soft-Spoken Prophet for one), but all had to face the judges for critiquing, much like American Idol (but not as destructive). The judges were: Dr. Cole, Pastor J. Drew Sheard, First Lady Karen Clark Sheard, J. Moss, Min. Ernest J. Lee, Brother Steve Harris, Pastor Delley, Kevin Gray, Brian Spears (Crystal Rose Records) and Ryan Baker (choreographer/dancer).

Mary Wynn, winner of the Best New Soloist category

After much deliberation, the winners were announced. For the Best New Artist in the Youth category, the winner was Brandon Hollis; for the Best New Soloist category, Mary Wynn (Scotts United Methodist Church in Detroit); for the Best New Hip-Hop Artist category, Frank Smith of Arkansas; for the Best New Group category, Bro. Don G. Jackson & New Generation; and last but certainly not least, the Best Overall Artist – A New Covenant, from Asbury Park, NJ.

Frank Smith, winner of the Best New Hip-Hop Artist Category

Each winner was later showcased at the appreciation service for Dr. Dorinda Clark Cole. The appreciation service ran well into the night with all of the participants singing to the glory of God. Many brought gifts and flowers and gave accolades of how Dr. Dorinda Clark Cole has been an influence in their lives and has assisted in furthering their musical endeavors.

The weekend finally wound up with a live recording of praise music being sung by many praise and worship leaders in the city, such as Anita Newby and Tim Slaughter; Nikki Rushen, who has sung with Kirk Franklin; and of course, Dr. Dorinda Clark Cole’s Singers and Musicians’ Conference Choir. Joe Smith, musical director for Dr. Cole, produced this project and looks forward to the world of gospel music being blessed mightily by this compilation of worship and praise. To God be the glory for all that He has done.

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