June marks this year's Black Music Month and the Gospel Music Channel (GMC) is celebrating it with monthlong special programming.
GMC, the first 24-hour Christian network dedicated to all styles of gospel music, will host a number of specials, events, and returning programs that will encompass themes embracing African-American influence in the music industry. Among the many artists that will be featured includes Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Nicole C. Mullen, Ben Harper, Blind Boys of Alabama, Anointed, Fred Hammond, Byron Cage, Walter Hawkins, The Clark Sisters, Mahalia Jackson, and Shirley Caesar.
"[The] monthlong programming will pay tribute to the rich musical contributions African-American musicians, singers, and composers have made to the culture of our Nation and to the world," explained GMC promoters in a statement.
As a feature of the June schedule, every Sunday will be completely dedicated to Black Music-related documentaries and programs, with one highlighted special each night at 8 p.m.
The four big specials, in chronological order, include "Mahalia Jackson: Give God the Glory," about the songstress' European tour in the 70s; "Say Amen Somebody," depicting the lives of Thomas Andrew Dorsey and "Mother" Willie Mae Ford; "GMC Presents Ben Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama Live at the Apollo," featuring their one-time performance at the famed Harlem theater; and "GMC Presents Gotta Serve Somebody," where top gospel artists dissect the gospel songs of legend Bob Dylan.
Other novel shows are expected to run throughout the month as well.
GMC has been seeing strong growth this year. According to the annual Beta Research Cable Operator Study released in mid-March, the channel was the No. 1 emerging or mid-size network among cable providers with large systems in large markets. It also led in two categories: "audience attentiveness to advertising" and "feeling comfortable viewing with family."
The network topped other secular channels such as The NFL Network, WE: Women's Entertainment, Soapnet, Hallmark Movie Channel, The Tennis Channel and Lifetime Real Women.
On May 1, the Black Family Channel (BFC) also made an agreement with GMC to release it into the nation's ten largest markets, in addition to providing strong support. The new deal is expected to bring in 20 million subscribers to the network.
Among other things, GMC was also nominated for its first Dove Award, also known as the "Christian Grammy," after it exclusively aired Casting Crown's Lifesong Live performance, and has begun shooting several of its programs in high-definition.
Although the network was launched only less than three years ago, it is currently offered in 170 markets and over 300 cities across the United States. Its most significant recent city additions are New York City, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Greensboro, N.C., San Francisco, Houston, Philadelphia, Denver, Seattle, Minneapolis/St. Paul, and St. Louis.