So. Calif. Prepares for Big Dose of Urban Gospel Music

LOS ANGELES - Rising urban Gospel music artists from around the nation will be taking the stage this weekend at an inner city concert that's drawing believers throughout southern California.

Legalize Jesus '08 featuring The Reach Records Unashamed Tour promises to be a night of great music and ministry, and aims to bring the region together for a common cause – to showcase and promote Urban Gospel music and its ministers to Southern California people, and attract more national attention to the genre.

"Legalize Jesus featuring The Unashamed Tour is not your typical urban music or hip hop show," commented event and program co-curator "Big Earl" Franklin, owner of the Gozpel Music Group, which is promoting the July 26 event together with 90K Watts Christian Entertainment Services.

"It's an event that is designed not only to entertain but to enlighten, enrich, encourage, and empower us, the urban Christian music listener about the goodness of our diverse religions," he expressed in a statement.

"It is where we can all come together and celebrate what we have in common, instead of focuses being placed on our differences," he added.

According to Franklin, urban Christian music is building quite the groundswell as the next generation of great artist is beginning to emerge.

"[A]nd we're starting to attract real national attention," he said.

And fellow co-curator Rob Pene, a.k.a. A.P.X., is hoping that greater exposure from this weekend's event will expand the foundation and generate more momentum. The event is bringing some of the best of urban Gospel Music to Los Angeles where some of these featured artists have recognized fan bases but have extremely limited occasions to connect with them live and in larger concert sessions. Artists include Lecrae (Jesus Muzik), Trip Lee, Tedashii, Sho Baraka, and J.R.

"[W]e hope to share Urban Gospel Music's top talent with the rest of the State, bringing the music live to those who support it and introducing us to many who might not otherwise have the chance to hear it," Pene stated.

Though previously known by mainstream America for its mediocre musical talents and artists, urban Gospel music is increasingly in the national spotlight. Younger audiences of the genre are particularly attracted to music with rhythm and a groove and an urban contemporary sound.

Some of the most well known urban Gospel music artists today include CeCe Winans, Donnie McClurkin, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Mary Mary, Smokie Norful, Tye Tribett, and Yolanda Adams .

Franklin and Pene are urging churches across all denominations in the Los Angeles, Ventura, San Diego, Orange, and San Bernardino counties to "come out and fellowship, worship, and Rock out to some great ministry music."

According to event promoters, Legalize Jesus will be filmed and documented by an independent production crew from Los Angeles. Talks over the possibility of developing the story into a documentary or reality show are reportedly underway.