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Author: Colette Greenstein(L-R): Berklee College of Music’s Bill Banfield, a liberal arts professor and founder of the Africana Studies program; Mathew Knowles, CEO Music World Entertainment and manager for Destiny’s Child; Dr. Teresa Hairston of Gospel Today Magazine; Bryant Scott, president of Tyscot Records; Monica Coates, author; and John Kellogg, assistant chair of the Music Business/Management Department.

The Business of Gospel

I received an invitation to attend the Business of Gospel panel at the Berklee College of Music, and what piqued my interest was the presence of Beyoncé’s daddy, Mathew Knowles, the mastermind behind Destiny’s Child.

By the time I arrived, the space was packed with musicians, writers, producers, and others trying to get into the music biz. In addition to Monsieur Knowles, the panel was rounded out with Bryant Scott, President of Tyscot Records, “Gospel Today” Magazine’s Dr. Teresa Hairston and Monica Coates, author of “The Beginners Guide to the Gospel Music Industry.”

John Kellogg, assistant chair of the Music Business/Management Department served as moderator.

A student asked, “What will it take to build gospel music within the industry and as an artist?”  

Knowles responded that the industry has to do a better job on presenting gospel music to corporate America. He mentioned how Denver Broncos’ quarterback Tim Tebow has demonstrated how big “faith” is throughout the nation and how the music industry has not tapped in to that yet.

In response to the same question, Dr. Hairston and Coates emphasized that people in the industry need to learn how to know one another. She said that it’s important to have “the opportunity to connect, unify and build.”

Coats emphasized that “gospel music is grassroots music.” She said she thought that gospel music could be just as much a lifestyle as hip hop if it built a buzz and “assigned a value to it.”

By doing that, she said, fans of the music would go out and support it through sales, and then corporate America would take note.

As I sat there, I tried to get a sense of what Knowles thought.  There’s no question that he’s got the knowledge, but he seemed aloof. I couldn’t tell if he was interested in being there or not.

On the other hand, the two women, Hairston and Coates, were thoughtful, intelligent, and knowledgeable about the gospel industry. They have a wealth of knowledge between them, which was inspiring.

Kudos to the Africana Studies, Liberal Arts, and Music Business and Management programs under the Professional Education Division, who presented the panel.

Ms. Lauryn Hill at the House of Blues

I know the buzz on Lauryn Hill’s tour dates last year wasn’t great. But, forever the optimist, I had a feeling that this show would be good, and it was. The band was musically tight, and she led them like a consummate conductor. The songs from her album “The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill” were rock-infused and heavy on the bass and guitar, and she rocked it!

Ms. Hill kicked off the show with an abbreviated version of “Killin’ Me Softly,” followed by “Everything is Everything,” and performed almost every song on her album. She also sang a couple of songs from The Fugees, with a little Bob Marley thrown in for good measure.

Her encore “Turn Your Lights Down Low,” was one of my favorites, and she ended the show with a high-spirited rendition of “Doo Wop (That Thing).” After the show, I couldn’t stop singing her songs in my head.

Coming up….

Comedian, actor and all-around funny man Sinbad returns to the Wilbur Theatre this Friday, March 9th, for one show at 7:30 p.m.

The Huntington Theatre Company presents August Wilson’s play “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” beginning this Friday, March 9th, through April 8th at the Boston University Theatre on Huntington Avenue.

On Saturday, March 17th, World Music/CRASHarts presents Ladysmith Black Mambazo at Sanders Theatre in Cambridge at 8pm.

Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater returns to the Citi Performing Arts Center April 26th-29th.

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