JoyFest at Carowinds has been delivering a Gospel celebration every spring for 25 years with some of the best names in the industry. More than 9,500 people attended the 25th anniversary event. Celebrating its silver anniversary on May 26, 2018, JoyFest-NC hosted award-winning Gospel greats – Fred Hammond, Tye Tribbett, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, Anthony Brown & Group Therapy and break-out sibling group – The Walls Group. Gospel sensation VaShawn Mitchell and 6-year-old worship leader Caleb Seranno made guest appearances as well, while comedian Bone Hampton carried on his tradition by serving as emcee for the day.
“It has been my great privilege to have witnessed every JoyFest for 25 years from behind the scenes,” said Richard Young, Premier Festivals Director, who procures the talent for the festival each year. “There have been moments of sheer joy and exuberance, great Gospel music and ministry at JoyFest – on a level that far surpasses any other festival. It’s a unique and awesome experience.”
An undisputed catalyst behind the Gospel genre of Urban Praise & Worship, Fred Hammond (pictured) has been one of the most respected names in the music industry for 35 years. With more than 8 million albums sold, he has won Grammy, BET, N.A.A.C.P., Image, Stellar, Dove and GMWA Excellence Awards.
At the end of the evening Hammond had this to say about JoyFest – NC: “I just finished the greatest music festival in the country – in the world, to me – JoyFest! It was the 25thanniversary, and I love it; I love it; I love it!” he said. “Don’t miss it next year – the 26th year is going to be nice!”
With explosive energy and talent Tye Tribbett commanded the stage like no other. His sound has been called unique, contagious and God-glorifying. His high energy, powerful and infectious music has helped redefine Gospel music, and earned him two No. 1 albums, Stellar and Grammy awards. On the heels of his 2014 “Greater Than” release that garnered two Grammys, Tribbett recently released “The Bloody Win” in 2017.
Perhaps best known for her “Break Every Chain” single which landed as Billboard’s #1 song for an incredible 12 weeks, Tasha Cobbs Leonard is an innovative and passionate worship leader. She won Billboard Music Awards for 2018 Top Gospel Artist and Top Gospel Album earlier this year. She has also tucked away a Grammy, three Stellar and three Dove awards so far in her career. With a freshman debut in 2012 called Grace, she is blazing her own trail as a nationally known singer, pastor and worship leader at her local church.
Joining the roster this year was newcomer Anthony Brown with his background singers Group Therapy. A child prodigy who began playing the piano at age 3, Brown is a No. 1 hit song-writer with such great offerings at “It Ain’t Over,” and “Sovereign God.” He serves as assistant minister of music for his home church and has recently released the album “A Long Way from Sunday,” which has been billed as “uplifting, R&B flavored gospel music that is sure to inspire.”
The newest group on the scene is comprised of four siblings called The Walls Group – Darrel, Rhea, Paco and Ahjah who are on a fast track to music notoriety under the watchful care of their God-fearing, Bible-believing parents. Ministry is the heart of The Walls Group and singing is the vessel in which to tell the Good News. Their youthful voices stand toe to toe with some of the leading gospel artists today. Worship, contemporary gospel and a blend of urban pop comes alive with their charming charisma and stage presence.
JoyFest – NC was hosted by Comedian Bone Hampton, who has become a fixture of fun at the annual festival. With more than 20 years in comedy, Bone is a Dove Award-winning Comedian of the Year, who has logged countless appearances on ABCs “The View,” and has been the personal gag writer for actress/comedienne Sherri Shepherd.
Hampton has appeared in several TV shows such as ABC’s Less than Perfect,” and NBC’s “My Name is Earl,” as well as big screen productions such as “All About Steve” with Sandra Bullock and “Woodlawn.” He has toured with comedienne Chonda Pierce, rapper Lecrae and colleague Sherri Shepherd.
Joining this fantastic lineup at Carowinds for JoyFest – NC 2018 as a special guest was VaShawn Mitchell, whose songs have been recorded by some of Gospel’s most celebrated artists, including Smokie Norful (“Just Can’t Stop”), Vanessa Bell Armstrong (“Help”), and Bishop Paul Morton (“Cry Your Last Tear”).
Special guest Caleb Serrano is a Greensboro, N.C. native and elementary-school-age choir member and worship leader at Ebenezer Baptist Church, where his grandfather is the pastor. A year ago, at age 5, Caleb appeared on “Little Big Shots” hosted by Steve Harvey. Since then he has appeared on the daytime talk show “Harry” and the “700 Club” and he made special appearances on JoyFest – Nc 2017 and the Greensboro date of Winter Jam, the largest Christian music tour in the nation.
JoyFest – NC is one of two gospel music celebrations in the Southeast that Premier Festivals promotes. The sister festival – JoyFest – VA is coming to Kings Dominion on July 14 in Doswell, VA with the same headliners!