Monday, April 9, 2012

'Kevin Monroe makes a joyful noise at Toad’s Place'

 A "galaxy of gospel music luminaries will come together at New Haven’s own Toad’s Place to perform and record a live album by gospel group Kevin Monroe & Devotion" at 6 p.m. April 22, organizers said in a statement.
Monroe, "a New Haven native and a vocal star...", will be joined on stage with gospel greats Edwin Hawkins, Donald Lawrence and JJ Hairston, as well as his 16-piece group, Devotion, with guest artist Ronnie Lawrence on guitar, the statement said.

The performance will be recorded and ultimately released as “The Rebirth of Kevin Monroe and Devotion” (working title)," the statement said. "The album will be produced by Edwin Hawkins, who also produced Monroe’s 2002 release, 'Life Is a Gift.'"

Tickets to the event are $10, now on sale at Bread of Life in Bridgeport, Unique Boutique in New Haven, and at

For information, email
More on Monroe The following is all quoted from the statement):
"Born and raised in New Haven, Kevin Monroe began his musical ministry under the direction of singer/songwriter Willie Small with his gospel group, W.S. Together they shared the stage with such legendary artists as James Cleveland, Edwin and Walter Hawkins and the Family, The Clark Sisters, Shirley Caesar, Richard Smallwood, The Williams Brothers, BeBe and CeCe Winans and Take 6.
In 1989, Kevin accompanied Tramaine Hawkins, the “Queen of Gospel,” on her international tour, a five-year stint that found him in Germany, France and Switzerland as well as across the United States. Nicknamed “Mr. Smoothie” by Mrs. Hawkins, Kevin’s mellow vocals are highlighted on the Grammy Award-winning album “Tramaine Live.” Performing with Mrs. Hawkins, he was a featured vocalist on “The Arsenio Hall Show” and at the Montreau Jazz Festival; he also sang background vocals for a television documentary, “The Vernon Johns Story,” featuring Cissy Houston. Locally, he has performed with Michael Bolton and George Michaels, and sang at a private ceremony for Ashford and Simpson on their Connecticut estate.
 In 1995, Kevin, along with W.S. members Tonya Ricks, Jacquelin Bartell, Melissa Brown, Martin Parker (keyboard, Musical Director) and Colon Hayward (keyboard), joined forces to form Kevin Monroe & Devotion. Since then, the group has grown in size and scope to include singers Simone Brown, Vanessa Brown, Sherell Gooding, Rasheada Bryant, Lenney Richardson and Renee Prosper as well as musicians Danney Gibbs (organ), George Moore (bass), Robbie Day (guitar), Darnell Altman (drums) and Eric Davis (keyboard).
 Worship continues to be of primary importance in Kevin’s life. As a faithful member of the Cathedral of the Holy Spirit, pastored by Kenneth H. Moales, Jr., Kevin serves as a psalmist and choir member, and also leads the church’s Praise and Worship Teams.
 In 2002, Kevin Monroe and Devotion released “Life is a Gift,” a gospel album produced by the legendary Edwin Hawkins. The April 22nd performance at Toad’s Place will result in Kevin’s second effort, also produced by Mr. Hawkins, tentatively titled “The Rebirth of Kevin Monroe & Devotion.”
 About Hawkins (also directly quoted from statement):
"Widely considered the originator of the urban contemporary gospel sound, Edwin Hawkins is known far beyond gospel circles for his groundbreaking hit, “Oh Happy Day,” (1968-69) which introduced the genre to millions of listeners and was included on the Songs of the Century list. Between 1970 and 1993, Hawkins won four Grammy Awards, and in 2007 was inducted into the Christian Music Hall of Fame. Today he continues to nurture the careers of emerging gospel artists, and is now celebrating the 31th season of the Edwin and Walter Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar, which attracts thousands of talented young choir hopefuls from the United States and abroad.
 About Lawrence:
 Chicago-based songwriter, record producer and artist Donald Lawrence has made his mark on the gospel world with his group, The Tri-City Singers, and with his own solo efforts, which have garnered multiple Stellar Awards. As a producer, he has shepherded the careers of a host of artists including Peabo Bryson and Kirk Franklin; he has also served as a vocal coach to R & B stars En Vogue; as musical director for Stephanie Mills; and a songwriter for The Clark Sisters. Donald is currently touring in support of his latest masterful recording, “Your Righteous Mind.”
 About Hairston:
 James “JJ” Hairston and his Bridgeport-based group, Youthful Praise, is known for its signature East Coast choir sound, with expansive melodies and inspired lyrics driven by rock-infused energies and rhythms. Youthful Praise’s fifth album, “Resting On His Promise,” was released in September of 2011 and featured guest performances by David McClure, Dorinda Clark Cole and many other notable artists, including the “First Lady of Gospel,” Shirley Caesar. Presently, JJ and Youthful Praise are promoting their newest CD, “After This...”, a stirring collection of worshipful music.
Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed.

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