By Sean CW Korsgaard
Summer heat that often neared 100 degrees didn’t do anything to deter more than 8,000 people from packing into the Kingswood Amphitheatre at King’s Dominion to get some of that old-time religion, or from jumping out of their seats as some of the biggest names in gospel music took the stage at Joyfest last Saturday.
Joyfest started 19 years ago in Charlotte, North Carolina, but due to the demand, a second event was launched 10 years ago at King’s Dominion, and it has since grown into one of the biggest gospel events in the country, drawing attendees from as far away as Pennsylvania and Georgia, resulting in the event’s biggest year yet, according to Paul Hendrix, the Festival Director at
Premier Festivals, which also manages the three-day long Kingsfest music festival which is also hosted at Kings Dominion.
“It’s been hot, but it’s a great event, it always is, and we have a sellout crowd this year,” said Hendrix. “ We owe a lot to King’s Dominon, they have always been a great partner for these events, be it Kingsfest or Joyfest, they’re just great at working with us, and making sure everything goes off without a hitch. That’s a big reason why we’ve been coming here for ten years now, and why we hope we’ll be coming back for many more.”
The entertainers were every bit as happy with the event as the organizers. Greensboro, North Carolina resident Terrence Baize was one of the performers that took the stage at Joyfest this year.
Baize grew up wanting to be a performer at Joyfest, and for the last four years has been playing bass guitar for gospel musician Tasha Cobbs, as well as pulling down double duty as her music director.
“Lot of energy on stage tonight, a lot of heat too, but we fought through that,” said Baize. “There just isn’t any feeling in the world like getting a high praise going in a full house like we have out in that crowd today, and all the summer heat can’t change that.”
Baize has been performing at Joyfest events in North Carolina for four years now, but this was his first time attending Joyfest in Doswell, and he’s every intent of returning based on his impressions this year.
“Since we got here, the sound crew had been great, very helpful, and everyone is so friendly here,” said Baize. “I’m living a dream come true, doing what I love, and it doesn’t matter where you do it if you love what you do, but it certainly helps.”
Along with Baize and Cobbs, other entertainers ranged from Kirk Franklin to David and Tamela Mann, any one of whom could headline an event solo. The chance to see them all in one show brought a lot of the attendees, but according to a member of the congregation at the St. James Missionary Baptist Church in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, it’s every bit as much about the crowd coming together as the music.
“This is what worship is supposed to be all about, getting together with a big group of strangers like this, and coming together to praise God as brothers and sisters,” he said. “Plus, at least with all of this heat, you got an excuse if you’re sweating in the pews.”