Award-winning gospel singer Marvin Sapp headlined “Living the Legacy,” a musical tribute to the life and memory of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. on Jan. 20. He performed in Christel DeHaan Fine Arts Center to a crowd that was so large, it had people sitting on the top balcony.
Emceed by Khelan Todd, former Residence Director for Cory Bretz Hall, the event began with spoken word performances by Jasmine Mans and Miles Hodge of The Strivers Row performance group from New York City.
Hodge warmed the crowd up by asking if they knew how to behave at a poetry session.
“You can snap. You can stomp your feet,” he said. “If you want to throw things like money, feel free.”
This was met by laughter from the audience.
In keeping with the theme of honoring King, Hodge spoke about what King meant to him.
“I might not be here if it wasn’t for him,” Hodge said. “I’m in awe … of what he’s accomplished.”
After their performance finished, Todd introduced the next group.
“We want you to participate as we lead you into worship,” he said.
Several members of the audience stood and clapped to the beat as the UIndy Voices of Worship choir began its performance. The choir was led, in part, by Devin Cunningham, an Indianapolis-based artist who attended UIndy for a brief time.
“Prep can be key, but for a Gospel concert, if God’s not in it, it’s all noise,” Cunningham said. “It becomes about touching people.”
The group performed, and then the singers returned to their seats.
The moment had come for Sapp to take the stage. He was greeted by a standing ovation and loud cheering. Sapp’s message to the audience was one of overcoming adversity.
“From this point on, I am moving from great to greater. People … will tear you down, but God sees the best in you,” Sapp said.
The audience cheered. Some reached out their hands towards Sapp in solidarity, and others wept.
After Sapp performed by himself for a bit, he was again joined onstage by Voices of Worship. The members of the choir took their places around microphones behind him and joined in the chorus of his next song. The crowd continued to cheer raucously.
Sophomore physics major Demetric Taylor, a member of Voices of Worship, has been singing since sixth grade, and continues to sing in the church choir at Guiding Light Church Assembly.
“It was a great experience,” Taylor said. “We actually just had two rehearsals. There was no meet and greet.”
The first time the artist and the choir met was when they performed together on stage.
At the end of the performance, Sapp said his farewell and left the stage. The audience, however, continued to cheer for him after he left.