By: Brenda Underwood and Keith Crosby
Photos by: Keith Crosby

Dateline: May 13-15, 2005, Sharonville Convention Center, OH.

I Hear Music In The Air Gospel Music Conference

Several Detroit staffers took a little trip southbound on Interstate-75 to the “I Hear Music In The Air” gospel music conference in Sharonville, Ohio. The conference included workshops taught by some of the industry’s top executives and artists, an artist showcase, teen session, concert, and gala. The conference was held May 13-15, in the Sharonville Convention Center which is just minutes outside of Cincinnati, Ohio.

Conference organizer, Tracey Artis with Byron Cage

Some of the workshop presenters were GospoCentric recording artists, Dorinda Clark-Cole and Byron Cage; Gospel Today Publisher, Teresa Hairston; Verity Records President, Max Siegel; GospoCentric executive, Vicki Lataillade; and others.

The conference was well attended by gospel artists, music ministers, musicians, and others from the greater Cincinnati area and from around the country. We met people from as far away as Florida and California that made the trip to Cincinnati. It was a great opportunity for persons interested in learning from some of the best in the industry – artists and executives alike.

One of the benefits of this conference is that it’s not so big that you don’t get an opportunity to talk 1-on-1 with workshop leaders. It’s not everyday that persons get the opportunity to meet, learn from, and ask questions of well-known worship leaders and industry executives in a forum where knowledge is being shared in a friendly, noncompetitive environment.

Gospel artists Sonnie Day & Byron Cage

The gospel artist showcase took place on Friday evening of the conference. It was hosted by former Detroiter and the “Prince of Praise,” Byron Cage. Detroit gospel artist Sonnie Day performed in the artist showcase and also represented the ‘D’ well.

The workshops began on Saturday morning. We sat in on a couple of great workshop sessions, including “The Industry From A-Z”. We took away some nuggets of information that are valuable to all artists who are interested in recording careers in gospel music. One such nugget came from Terry Woods, an executive from Central South Distribution, who said that an artist is responsible for generating a buzz about their CD before securing distribution. There must be demand for your product. He said, “If you can’t sell 200 units in your own hometown, then you shouldn’t be looking to distribute elsewhere.” Another useful tip came from Richard Picart of GospelCity, who told workshop participants that artists should allocate 50% of their project budget to marketing.

Byron Cage

Another great workshop was the, “To Be In His Presence” workshop, where Minister Byron Cage was the facilitator. The Spirit of the Lord came upon Byron and he ministered about the importance of worship and praise as a sermon. He gave us scripture after scripture describing how the Lord sets things in order for worship and that even in battle, the “singers” went out first. He then went on to describe how the High Priest had to go into the Holy of Holies after being prepared and sanctified to go into God’s presence for the people. Byron stressed how praise and worship should set the tone for the worship services.

On Saturday evening the conference brought out a star-studded line-up for a sho’nuf gospel concert featuring Dorinda Clark-Cole, Byron Cage, Kurt Carr, and a host of other great gospel artists.

Kirk Franklin & The Family member, Tamela Mann, with Detroit’s Brenda Underwood

So next year, if you’re looking for a gospel music conference and artist showcase in the midwest region of the country, and you desire to learn, as well as showcase your gifts, there is none better than “I Hear Music In The Air.”