Thirty-five to 40 gospel groups and their fans are expected to gather from eight Southern states next weekend for the Southeastern Southern Gospel Music Conference.
Organizers plan to make Valdosta the annual stop for what they hope will be a growing gospel conference in coming years.
Ricky Atkinson with the gospel group Ricky Atkinson & Compassion is the conference’s executive director; he has also penned six No. 1 gospel songs. The event started last year in middle Georgia, but Atkinson of Sylvester said they knew then that venue was too small.
“It was one and done,” he said of the last venue.
Scouting for a larger area to serve as a host city, Atkinson looked to his friend, Calvin McGuyrt, a Valdosta resident who leads the gospel group The Georgians.
Valdosta has everything the conference wants and needs: A facility with a fine acoustic auditorium but with a lobby large enough for displays such as the Valdosta High School Performing Arts Center; a location located off an interstate with plenty of hotels, restaurants and other attractions, such as golf courses, for participants during downtime in the two-day event.
With 35-40 gospel acts expected to attend and perform, along with their road crews, technicians, families and devoted fans, the Southeastern Southern Gospel Music Conference is expected to attract hundreds of people from Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and Louisiana, Atkinson and McGuyrt said.
All of the gospel acts are expected to perform during the two-day event, which is open to the public. These performances occur during matinees scheduled for 1-5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and evening concerts scheduled from 7-11 p.m. Friday and 6-11 p.m. Saturday. The Saturday evening shows will also include the SESGMC 2012 awards presentations.
Featured gospel groups include The Nelons, Ann Downing, Naomi & The Segos, Logan Smith, Spoken 4 Quartet, Ricky Atkinson & Compassion, and The Georgians. On Saturday morning, women can meet in a conference featuring Kelly Nelon and Ann Downing; men will have the opportunity to play in a golf tournament. In the PAC lobby, music groups will have CDs and merchandise available; a full concession providing snacks, even meals will also be available.
“We’re looking at this year’s event as a growing year,” Atkinson said. To emphasize the desire for more participation, the public may buy tickets, at half-proce, $10 instead of $20, available locally at The Potter’s House and Ray Norton Tire, McGuyrt said.
The Southeastern Southern Gospel Music Conference features 35-40 gospel acts.
When: Saturday and Sunday, June 8, 9.
Where: Valdosta High School Performing Arts Center, 3101 N. Forrest St.
More information: Call (770) 830-1682; or (229) 886-8043; or visit www.sesgmc.com