Shows to Raise Spirits

The Inter-Mountain Shannon Bennett Campbell The newly refurbished Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center sits stately at its West Pike Street location awaiting gospel music patrons from near and far.

With some pleasant, sunny days filtering into our calendars, travel in Central West Virginia is picking up and we realize we have some increased choices of how to consume our time. A great find I made only a few weeks ago revealed that the wonderful Gospel Show Series, which once appeared in Elkins, is on stage again and nearby.

In Clarksburg’s Historic District, the newly renovated Robinson Grand Theater is the 2020 host for the complete schedule of nationally known gospel groups that many of our residents enjoyed and have missed. Located at 444 West Pike Street just beyond the well-marked Clarksburg Harrison County Library and before Sixth Street, North, this theater is not unknown to many because it was once an iconic movie theater where the most highly-rated films were shown.

Hundreds of Central West Virginia parents took their children to Clarksburg to see “The Sound of Music,” “Oliver,” “Mary Poppins” and “My Fair Lady” at the Robinson Grand. It was the optimum movie screen of great productions and perfect for youth to view, as well as adults.

The Robinson Grand Performing Arts Center, as it now known, was the 13th theater in the United States to be equipped for sound movies, in approximately 1927. The building is owned by the city of Clarksburg and has 959 new seats, and with restorations complete, it is open for business again according to the “Greater Clarksburg Visitors Guide.”

Arrival at the performance may need to be made a little early, so parking will not be a problem. A short walk will get you to the theater from an assortment of available parking areas and street spaces.

The 2020 AMT Productions Southern Gospel and Bluegrass Series was described to me by owner Aaron Baker. Baker explained that orders are currently being taken at 1-800-943-3670 and the first scheduled upcoming attraction will feature Dailey and Vincent May 17 at 3:30 p.m. Likewise, Ernie Haase and the Signature Sound will perform this year as well. Jimmy Fortune, Jeff and Sheri Easter, The Hoppers, The Malpass Brothers and The Nelons round-out this year’s scheduled performers. Brochures are available if requested.

Few concerts invigorate a crowd like those of gospel origin. Toe-tapping, hand-clapping, singing and just plain-speaking about matters of the Lord get audiences enthused and on the same page. It is a raucous experience that not only will be enjoyed while attending the show of your choice, but will be remembered for days and weeks to come.

I still have visions of songwriter Mark Lowry being on the Charleston Civic Center Stage a couple years ago singing his popular hit, “Mary, Did You Know?” at the Gaither Family’s Christmas Show. A visit to any of the scheduled gospel performances will provide one with an elevated sense of love and hope for a long time after.

In an era when we are able to make many choices about our entertainment, we should take seriously the kinds of events to which we take our children. Further, what they are exposed to on television can never be taken for granted.

Sociologists’ studies — even back when I attended WVU in the 70s — proved that when children see violence, it is predictable that they are much more aggressive in their actions and can be belligerent with others.

It is often the case with video games that harm is unleashed, but the consequences never are fully seen or experienced as it would be in real life. It is our duty to guide young people toward happy and joyful entertainment as opposed to that which is violent and maims. This is being addressed in football today with “targeting” being eliminated from games and penalties being strictly imposed.

So, get to this location and send your spirits to the sky. I can only explain that you may make several new friends at these gospel events, because as these people are friends of Jesus, they will be your friend, too. Perhaps, the most compelling reason for attending shows like this is to experience the love in the people’s hearts and minds that is deep and true.

Do not ever doubt their loyalty to their Maker. Do not think they do not practice their faith 24-7. And, we all owe them a lot for being in this world. Whatever faults they may have, I am sure their societal contributions far outweigh anything they remove from us.

The words of Bill Gaither’s signature gospel song, “Because He Lives,” ring true with all of them, and perhaps, a visit to a gospel show will be the inspiration to join their ranks.

It may be worth your knowing the words that complete Gaither’s first line, as an Easter church visit may need to be put on the calendar for next month. Gaither wrote on,

“Because he lives, I can face tomorrow;

because he lives, all fear is gone;

because I know he holds the future,

and life is worth the living just because he lives.”

“The United Methodist Hymnal” – c 1989

Have a blessed time.


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