4 Florida Cities with Great Gospel Music Scenes

    By Jodi Mailander Farrell

    Want to lift your spirits? Just visit one of these four Florida cities with great gospel music scenes:


    Gospel plays, concerts and brunches are consistently in the lineup at the Ritz Theatre and Museum, a historic, 426-seat Art Deco theater in the heart of the city’s LaVilla neighborhood, known from 1921 to 1971 as the “Harlem of the South.” Gospel singer and Civil Rights activist Mavis Staples and Brooklyn-based Naomi Shelton & the Gospel Queens are among the headliners who have performed here.
    829 N. Davis St., Jacksonville, 32202

    Tampa Bay

    Held in May, the one-day, outdoor Gospel Music Festival began in 2016 and features gospel music near downtown Tampa, with free admission and free parking.
    Water Works Park, 1710 N. Highland Ave., 33602

    The Tampa Black Heritage Festival features a Gospel Night every year in January at a local church as part of its year-round signature events.

    For other events that feature local choirs and artists, check out The Tampa Bay Gospel News, a marketing company that promotes local gospel artists and events, including the Tampa Bay Gospel Awards weekend celebration in September and a Battle of The Choirs, also in September.


    Soulful brunches, accompanied by traditional and contemporary gospel music, occur at 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. every Sunday at the House of Blues. Along with the best in local and regional choirs, enjoy chicken and waffles, carving stations and southern specialties.
    1490 E. Buena Vista Dr., Orlando 32830


    Free Gospel Sundays is a four-concert series at the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts of Miami-Dade County that features a different headline gospel artist each time, along with the all-star Miami Mass Choir and a rotating local church choir. (Check the website for dates.) The free, two-hour concerts occur every season between October and May. Yolanda Adams, CeCe Winans, Marvin Sapp and Kirk Franklin have all appeared here. Miami Mass Choir has an illustrious past, having performed with Kanye West at the MTV Video Music Awards. Free Access Passes are obtained online. Those without passes can join the stand-by line prior to the 5 p.m. concert to get unclaimed seats.
    1300 Biscayne Blvd., Miami, 33132

    Places to Remember