Arkansas PBS, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center partner for free live music, screening event Feb. 8 in advance of “GOSPEL” broadcast premiere

January 25, 2024

“GOSPEL” broadcast premiere

CONWAY, Ark. (Arkansas PBS) — Arkansas PBS, in collaboration with the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center, is delighted to announce a special event celebrating gospel music and featuring excerpts from "GOSPEL", a four-hour docuseries that explores the rich history of Black spirituality through sermon and song from executive producer, host and writer Professor Henry Louis Gates Jr. "GOSPEL” will premiere on Arkansas PBS Monday and Tuesday, Feb. 12 and 13, at 8 each night.

The event is scheduled for Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. Doors will open early at 5 p.m. for guests to enjoy the Mosaic Templars Cultural Center’s new permanent exhibit. To reserve your free ticket, attendees are asked to RSVP at  

Renowned gospel radio programmer and announcer, Billy Saint James, will moderate the event. Attendees can look forward to musical performances, selected clips from "GOSPEL," and a compelling discussion highlighting the profound history of gospel music in Arkansas including its creation, performance, significance, and more.

Reverend Henry Parker, Jr., Worship Minister at St. John Missionary Baptist Church and Director of Choral Activities at Shorter College, has curated a special music program that celebrates gospel through the years. The program will showcase both traditional and contemporary renditions, promising an evening of soul-stirring melodies.

“Gospel music is a vital part of Arkansas' rich African American history. The state has produced many artists that have achieved national acclaim, including Sister Rosetta Tharpe, Nakitta Clegg-Foxx, and Grammy Award winner Smokie Norful. We are proud to partner with Arkansas PBS and celebrate gospel music in Arkansas,” said Quantia "Key" M. Fletcher, Mosaic Templars Cultural Center Director.

From the blues to hip-hop, African Americans have been the driving force of sonic innovation for over a century. While musical styles may come and go, there is one sound that has been a constant source of strength, courage and wisdom from the pulpit to the choir lofts on any given Sunday: the gospel.

In “GOSPEL,” Gates speaks with dozens of clergymen, singers and scholars about their connection to the music that has transcended its origins and now spreads “the good word” all around the world. The series features interviews with notable names including Dionne Warwick, U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, Rev. Otis Moss III and Professor Michael Eric Dyson, as well as awe-inspiring musical performances of gospel favorites “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus,” “Total Praise” and others from talents including The Belle Singers, Cory Henry, Celisse and more.

Throughout its four hours, “GOSPEL” gives a look at the history of Black religious music and preaching, showcasing the symbiotic relationship of words and song present in any Black church. The series examines the origin of Black gospel music, which blended the sacred spirituals with the blues tradition and soared to new heights during the Great Migration. This music served as an outlet for the anger and the frustration of living as a Black person in America, which remains true today. The series also explores the evolution of preaching styles over time and the impact of class, gender, cultural innovations and consumer technologies shaped the development of gospel since its conception.

Corporate support for “GOSPEL” was provided by Bank of America. Major funding support was provided by the Lilly Endowment Inc., Gilead Sciences, Inc., the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation and the Ford Foundation. Funding was also provided by members of The Inkwell Society and by public television viewers like you.

Mosaic Templars Cultural Center (MTCC)
The Mosaic Templars Cultural Center is a nationally-accredited, world-class Department of Arkansas Heritage Museum and Cultural Center in Little Rock, Arkansas. Its mission is to collect, preserve, interpret, and celebrate African American history, culture and community in Arkansas from 1870 to the present and to inform and educate the public about Black achievements, especially in business, politics and the arts.

About Arkansas PBS
For more than 50 years, Arkansas PBS has served as Arkansas’s statewide public media network. An inventive and award-winning multiplatform producer of local and national public media content, Arkansas PBS empowers learners of all ages and drives conversations, inspiring people and communities to reach their full potential. Arkansas PBS is home to the most utilized teacher professional development resources in the state with more than 4 million credit hours awarded. Arkansas PBS creates and celebrates Arkansas stories, informs through in-depth public affairs content and shares valued PBS programs as an essential service to all Arkansans, deepening connections to communities and the larger world, and changing lives for the better. More information about Arkansas PBS’s broadcast, online, educational and on-demand services and resources is available at