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Smokie Norful, Anita Wilson highlight Motown Gospel Revue at Central Park

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Gospel superstars brought the house down at Rumsey Playfield during the Motown Gospel Revue. Luminaries such as Smokie Norful, Kierra Sheard, Anita Wilson and more delighted fans with a stellar free show, part of Central Park’s beloved SummerStage series, performing some of the biggest hits in contemporary gospel and delivering an afternoon that all in attendance won’t soon forget. Hosted by and featuring DJ Tony Tone on the wheels of steel, the showcase brought the spirit of the black church to Central Park.

The Allen A.M.E. Youth Choir got the crowd into the spirit with a stirring performance that set the tone for the entire show. There was no shortage of inspiring tales, with Vashawn Mitchell sharing his recent experiences with back surgery (when he declined further surgeries, his doctor told him to “pray to the God you serve,” which Mitchell shared as a testimony) and Paul Porter was back onstage following a brain aneurysm.

Micah Stampley, Brian Courtney Wilson and Myron Butler delivered their most well-known concert staples while also keeping the crowd enthralled with messages of hope, love and forgiveness. There was no shortage of “Amens” and enthusiastic applause throughout the crowd at Central Park, many of whom revealed that they were seeing these acts for the first time. Kierra Sheard, Anita Wilson and Tasha Cobbs more than represented for the ladies. The divas of gospel pulled off powerhouse performances, with Wilson showcasing for all why she’s one of the industry’s most acclaimed vocalists.

Gospel chart-topper Smokie Norful closed out the day, emerging around 6:45pm to a raucous ovation from the crowd and running through his most well-known cuts, as well as a few snippets from his upcoming album. For a few hours on a balmy Saturday in August, the Upper East Side was a revival and the only thing missing in Central Park was a collection plate.