PHOENIX — Valley gospel music fans are in for a treat on Super Bowl weekend.
It’s a concert with singers that you may not of heard before, but you have probably seen them playing football. They are members of the NFL Players Choir, and they will be performing on Jan. 30 at the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at Gammage Auditorium in Tempe.
“Ray Lewis comes in and out, Donovan McNabb has sung with the choir before, Tim Brown, who used to be with the Oakland Raiders, just some great guys,” said Melanie Few Harrison, the founder of the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, which is now in its 16th year.
Other recent players who have sung in the choir include Eddie Kennison of the Kansas City Chiefs, Dallas Cowboys and Arizona Cardinals star Emmitt Smith and the Cowboys’ Drew Pearson.
Harrison said it was singer Patti Labelle’s idea to have the players up on stage singing. The idea came to her while she was performing at the celebration one year.
“She said, ‘All these good looking men in this building. Too bad none of them can sing,” said Harrison. “And several of them ran up on stage and started to sing, and she said, ‘Good God Almighty, y’all got a choir.'”
Several Gospel artists will be performing in the concert.
“We’ve got Donnie McClurkin confirmed. We’ve got Israel Houghton, who is from here, confirmed. We’ve got Fred Hammond,” Harrison said.
Harrison said the concert will be a mixture of gospel and Contemporary Christian music. Popular Contemporary Christian singer Natalie Grant is already in the lineup.
“We’re working on some big Contemporary Christian artists and a couple more Crossover acts,” said Harrison.
Harrison also had a word of advice for the two teams that will be playing in the Super Bowl. She said the teams, whoever they may be, should show up at the concert.
“Ironically, and I know it’s a God thing, every team that has come to the Super Bowl Gospel celebration has been the team that has won the Super Bowl game. It’s God ordained,” Harrison said. “I would say that if you guys want the Arizona Cardinals to win the Super Bowl game, you better tell them to come to Super Bowl Gospel.”
Of course, the Cardinals have to win a few more games before they can start thinking about the Super Bowl, but Harrison says she, “knows they’re going to do it.”
When asked what she thinks will help them win this Sunday’s big game with Seattle, Harrison laughed and said “prayer.”
Tickets for the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration go on sale next week. Proceeds from the concert benefit the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.