Faith Channel Spotlights Gospel Music Greats to Kick Off Black History Month

Among the civil rights leaders and historical events that hundreds of channels plan to program into their television schedules in commemoration of Black History Month, legends of Gospel music will be taking the spotlight on a faith-based channel.

This February marks the 80th Black History Month - a tribute to the contributions of black Americans. And this year, Gospel Music Channel will premiere two original short-form series that highlight the roots of traditional gospel.

With 80 million gospel radio listeners and already 3.5 million subscribers to the one-year-old Gospel Music Channel nationwide, Gospel music has grabbed high marks in the music and television industries.

Going back to the roots of the genre that has largely impacted the music market and black history, the series will highlight the careers of early gospel artists with rare footage from the first television appearances of such gospel icons as Albertina Walker, The Caravans, The Staple Singer, Andrae Crouch and others. Other special features include a look at the storied Chicago television show, Jubilee Showcase, which for 21 years captured the early gospel greats and was the first to focus on gospel music as an art form.

The second series in the special line-up will zero in on civil rights activist and Gospel music queen Mahalia Jackson. Daughter of a barber and preacher, Jackson stormed the churches with her unique contralto voice which was soon heard around the world. Beyond concert halls, the gospel queen amplified her voice at civil rights rallies led by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as she sang of courage, faith and hope.

Showcasing the celebrated life of Jackson, Gospel Music Channel will premiere the critically-acclaimed documentary "Mahalia Jackson: Give God the Glory," which includes scenes from a triumphant European tour.

Both series are hosted by legendary gospel producer and artist Dr. Bobby Jones, who is credited as helping to revolutionize the gospel music industry. Jones has been the host and executive producer of Bobby Jones Gospel, one of the most popular shows, since 1980. He received several awards including The Gabriel Award and an International Film Festival Award for the gospel opera "Make a Joyful Noise," Gospel Music Association's Dove award for Black Contemporary Album of the Year, a Grammy award for Best Vocal Duo for a Soul/Gospel Performance with country music star Barbara Mandrell, and an NAACP Image Award. His outstanding contribution to Gospel music also landed him GMA's Commonwealth Award.

The series kicks off on the night of Feb. 1 and will be shown throughout the month.

Gospel Music Channel is the first advertiser-supported cable television network dedicated to the rich history and contemporary sounds of gospel music, its many styles and artists. Launched on Oct. 30, 2004, the network's program schedule features artists' biographies, music specials, live concerts, and hosted music video blocks highlighting all styles of Gospel music targeted to all age groups and demographics.