Super Bowl Gospel Celebration Turns 20 in Atlanta

What started as an idea to bring a nonsecular event to Super Bowl has resulted in a longstanding gospel tradition that is celebrating 20 years in conjunction with Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta. Originating at Super Bowl XXXIII in 1999, the annual event joins together key NFL Players, top Gospel/Contemporary Christian and mainstream GRAMMY® Award-winning artists and special guests all on one stage to bring audiences an evening of uplifting music and inspirational messages. This year’s celebration is hosted by comedian Ricky Smiley and The Real host Adrienne Bailon.

The fact that this inspirational event has solidified itself as a mainstay is a significant accomplishment. Not only does the Gospel Celebration show athletes in a different light, it also puts gospel music at the forefront of the largest sporting event supported by the NFL. Several of the Gospel Celebration guests and performers acknowledged how important it is to have this event during Super Bowl.

“It’s very, very important because it actually puts a validation stamp on the gospel and what it is we love about gospel,” said gospel recording artist Darlene McCoy. “It kind of shows that the NFL loves gospel too. It’s very important. The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration is connected to the NFL. It’s not something on the outside trying to get in, it’s in. It’s very significant for our platform of music.”

“I think it’s most important,” Grammy Award winning singer Regina Belle said. “Faith should be in the forefront of everything we do, sports included. If you don’t have faith, everything else is going to fall short. You’re building your house on sand.” “It’s very significant because it’s about community, it’s about giving back, and also about the players that play this football game,” former Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Ken Clarke said.

“A lot of the guys who play this football game stand on faith. It’s good to recognize that it’s not just all about football players as gladiators.” “I think it continues to put the focus on why we’re alive, why we’re here, what is our purpose, what are we doing,” Grammy-Award winning artist Kirk Franklin said. “To have the opportunity to tell people about just the glory of God and that our purposes all lie in Him. So that’s what I’m here doing, and I hope I’m just shedding the light back on Him.”

In addition to Kirk Franklin, other performers include Tasha Cobbs Leonard, The Winans, Lecrae, Hezekiah Walker, Tamia, Koryn Hawthorne, and the Super Bowl Gospel NFL Players Choir. The celebration will also honor Denver Bronco’s linebacker Von Miller with the annual “Faith in Action” award for his work with his charity Von’s Vision.

The one-hour Super Bowl Gospel Celebration special will premiere exclusively on BET Networks on Saturday, February 2, 2019 at 8:00 p.m. ET.

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