The rich African-American tradition of gospel music plays out every Sunday at the House of Blues Orlando in Downtown Disney.
Curated by Grammy-Award winning star and gospel music icon Kirk Franklin, the House of Blues Gospel Brunch is a non-denominational, hand-clapping celebration that typically features rising young contemporary national and local gospel voices, plus an all-you-can-eat brunch.
There are two seatings: One at 10:30 a.m. and another at 1 p.m. The popular event lasts about 90 minutes, with 45 minutes for brunch and 45 minutes for the roof-raising gospel entertainment.
Franklin – who hand-picks the talent and songs, but does not appear in the show – is arguably the most decorated gospel performer of his generation. He’s the winner of almost 100 music awards, including nine Grammys, 39 Stellars, 16 Doves, eight NACCP awards and even a Soul Train award. He hosts a reality television gospel singing competition called Sunday Best on BET and co-hosts a Game Show Network show, American Bible Challenge, with comedian Jeff Foxworthy.
He teamed up with House of Blues owner Live Nation to program and revamp gospel brunches at 11 of the live music and dining venues throughout the United States, including the one in Orlando, this year as part of its 20th anniversary celebration.
He even had a hand in picking the South-inspired food, which includes Creole chicken jambalaya, scrambled eggs and omelets, hand-carved smoked ham and beef brisket, chicken and waffles, and a Bloody Mary bar.
"I just think it's a good experience to be able to connect with this whole culture of gospel music and the church, and some good singing and good food – just the whole African-American gospel-music heritage, and allowing other people to see that," He told the Houston Press in May, right before the program kicked off on Mother’s Day.
Even “non-church-going folk” are welcome here.
“We want everybody to come and really feel like this is something special for them, and that they can kind of wash away all the blues and the negative feelings of the week,” Franklin told the newspaper. “Here's a chance to be uplifted and reminded that tough times don't last long, but tough people do. That's the power of this music, and that's the power of the whole culture that we are trying to replicate.”
House of Blues Orlando, 1490 E. Buena Vista Dr., Lake Buena Vista, 407-934-BLUE (2583);
www.houseofblues.com/venues/clubvenues/gospelbrunch.php. Gospel brunch admission is $40.50 for ages 10 and up, $22.25 for children ages 3-9, and free for babies ages 2 and under.