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Holladay will host free music festival this weekend

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This weekend, the Birdsong United States Association of Gospel Entertainers and Musicians, USAGEM, will host a Christian Music Jamboree, a gospel show featuring acts from many different genres of Christian music including Southern Gospel, Black Gospel, Christian Country, Contemporary Gospel and Bluegrass/Acoustic/Songwriter/Gospel. According to one of the organizers, Mike Dunbar, vice-president of USAGEM, the two-day event will be at the Hoot Owl Theater, an outdoor venue at 97 Music Lane in Holladay. Both Saturday June 15, and Sunday June 16, the event will run from 3-8 p.m.

The Hoot Owl Theater is owned and operated by Sheila Mitchell Hart and is located next to her Birdsong School of Music which is well known in Benton County and with friends around the world. Dunbar explained, “USAGEM is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization for the Gospel Music community with over 400 members internationally who include Grammy and Dove award winners. Funding for the event is made possible by the Tennessee River Resort District (TRRD) of Benton County. Over 30 artists are scheduled to play at the Jamboree incuding Glenn Douglas Tubb, A nephew of the country music legend Ernest Tubb. Glenn has written such songs as Skip-a-Rope which spent five weeks at number one on Billboard, and Two-Story House for George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Glenn’s gospel songs include I Talk to Jesus Every Day recorded by both Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. He also wrote Heartbroke, Forsaken and Alone which Glenn co-wrote with Hank Williams Sr. Minister James ‘Dewitt’ Johnson is a songwriter and piano player who has had several of his compositions used as themes for television and radio gospel music programs, including Glad to be in God’s Service, I’ve Been Touched, Nothing Gonna Hinder Me, and Things Have Got To Get Better.”

Dunbar continued, “In 1974, The James Johnson Ensemble’s album The Harvest Is Plentiful was RIAA certified Gold and was nominated for a Grammy Award while remaining on Billboard’s Gospel Chart for more than 100 weeks.  Dewitt has shared the stage with Mariah Carey, Joe Cocker, The Neville Brothers, Peabo Bryson, Shirley Caesar, Bobby Jones and so many more. Also appearing on the show will be Margie Singleton. Margie recorded several duets with George Jones, and had nine songs in the Billboard top 40 as a singer.

Songs Margie has written have been recorded by Brook Benton, Tammy Wynette, and Charlie Pride. Margie was called the Gospel Bop singer for her Christian songs on Saturday Records in the late 1950’s and has recently won the 2018 LA’s Video of the Year for her song Jesus is My Pusher. The Tennessee River Boys will be lending their talents to the Jamboree. They have won the Josie Awards Gospel Christian Entertainers of the Year in both 2016 and 2018. The group has played on stage with such artists as: Lynn Anderson, Roy Clark and Duck Dynasty’s Uncle Si. They will be joined by USAGEM president Lynn Fox of the famous Fox Brothers for a not-to-be missed performance. Another Jamboree guest is known as the ‘Positive Cowboy.’ Jim Sheldon is the star of the long-time RFD-TV program The Music City Show. His songs bring a smile and a tug at the heartstrings. Sandi Kay and New Hickory have won several awards for their bluegrass and country styling. They are made up of members of the Nashville Cowboy Church Band which is heard every week on WSM Radio, home of the Grand Ole Opry. Sandi herself has won awards for her songwriting and is currently Ms. Senior Wilson County of 2019. Husband and wife Gospel duo Sonshine Road has been burning up the independent gospel radio charts with their Christian Country songs. The couple, Kevin and Rachelle Nelson, has also won several awards this past year. The list of performers goes on, including some surprises.”

Dunbar finished with, “The two-day event is free, but there will be a donation taken and food and beverages will be available for a fee. It is recommended to bring lawn chairs. There will be adequate facilities and accommodations for persons with disabilities. The Birdsong USAGEM Christian Music Jamboree promises to be an entertaining and uplifting two days of Christian music.”

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