Each parking space in the lots surrounding Jerusalem Baptist Church in Doswell was full last Saturday. Cars lined both sides of the small road before the church, creating a line that almost reached the stoplight before the turnoff for Kings Dominion. People hurried up to the front doors a little after 3 p.m. as music spilled out of the church.
Once inside, they were met with a blast of air conditioning and voices—cheering and singing; a church full of people celebrating one man’s 50 years of one musical performance. Bubba Johnson, a well-known gospel singer in the Hanover area, began singing when he was a teenager. This talent for singing led to a later discovered joy for song writing.
As was evident at Johnson’s celebration concert Saturday, the performer has touched the lives of more than a few individuals. Entire families and choirs have gotten to know or performed with Johnson.
Some attendees had known Johnson since childhood or from church when they were younger. Others may have only known the man for a short amount of time but nonetheless came out to share in the experience. With the sanctuary filled, people moved to the balcony seating to watch the performances from above.
Announcers Sis. Evangeline Bullock of Shine a Little Light Inc. in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and gospel radio and television announcer Dr. Cavell Phillips introduced the various performing groups and speakers as they came on stage.
Rev. Sheldon Pleasant of Gethsemane Baptist Church, Dr. Johnny J. Branch of Union Baptist Church, and Rev. Evans C. White of Providence Baptist Church spoke during the celebration. Speakers and announcers recalled memories with Johnson, telling humorous stories and poking light fun at the honoree.
The sound and energy at Jerusalem Baptist was enough to make a non-churchgoer want a seat near the pulpit. Bass practically vibrated the sanctuary’s rafters, filling spirits with joy. Piano, bass and even the occasional saxophone left people tapping their feet, if they weren’t already up and dancing like no one was watching.
With all of the music and grooving, you’d almost forget that you were at a church and not a concert venue if it weren’t for the stained glass windows and occasional Amen’s from the crowd and announcers.
“I’m about to have church on a Saturday,” Bullock joked to the crowd about their energy.
The Omega Singers, of Bubba Johnson & The Omega Singers, reunited for Saturday’s performance. The singers are a traditional style gospel group whose sound has been likened to that of the Caravans. The Omega Singers performed with Johnson at their side. Johnson even took to the piano seat at one point, providing music for the group.
After The Omega Singers performed, The Gospel Gents captured the audience’s attention. By the end of the celebration, not a single attendee was disappointed by the performances. Friends bumped into friends, neighbors said hello and families united all for the celebration of one performer who connected them all.
By NATALIE MILLER
H-P Staff Writer