Midlands Talent Sought for Opening Act

Contest Winner to Open for Hip-Hop Artist LeCrae


By Monique Williams

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) -- Christian Hip Hop Artist LeCrae's Gravity Tour stops through the Capitol City in February. However, he's giving Midlands talent a chance to be the opening act via auditions set to take place this month. Not all ministry leaders, though, give this genre of music their blessing.

Known by a single name, Christian rapper, LeCrae, electrifies audiences worldwide with an edgy message of hope and faith. He's one of several gospel hip hop artists taking the same approach to draw a young, urban and perhaps out of touch crowd. Columbia-based GM Showcase Group wants to let local artists in on some of that exposure.

"Any artist, rapper, band, choir can be part of this event," said event organizer, Kiosha Gregg. The event is the LeCrae Opening Act Contest, taking place January 12th, from 8:00am to 3:30pm.

"Round one is to perform for the judges; part two is Facebook, where people will vote for their act to win."

The winner gets to open up for LeCrae when his Gravity Tour hits Columbia February 21st. While it may provide a a platform for Midlands talent, some ministers are concerned with a larger message it could be sending they say is too 'wordly.'

"I'm concerned that wordly spirit is getting into the church," said Rev. Thurmond Bowens, Jr., pastor of Trinity Baptist Church. He questions the sincerity of such groups, whose videos mirror the same raw and rugged look as seen in many mainstream secular hip hop artists' videos.

"Is it coming from the heart or the pocketbook, motivated by dollars and cents or by God?"

Rev. E.W. Davis, pastor of Little Zion Baptist Church, however, believes the artists' music and message are clear.

"Rap music is their way of expressing their faith, and if you listen carefully enough, they're sincere and what they're saying is scripturally-based."

No matter the method of exposure, folks in the Midlands soon have a chance for their 15 minutes of fame and provide inspiration at the same time.

The LeCrae Opening Act Contest takes place Saturday, January 12th, at NorthStar Christian Center, 701 Longtown Rd., Columbia. ABC Columbia's own Monique Williams will be one of the judges. The deadline to register to audition is Friday, January 4th. Registration fee is $20. Online registration may take place at gmopeningact.eventbrite.com. LaCrae's Gravity Concert takes place Thursday, February 21st, Medallion Center, Columbia.

*All video of rappers in this story is courtesy of YouTube.

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