Catherine W. Idzerda" />

Gospel Fest: ‘You’ve got to work the stage’

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Catherine W. Idzerda
Sunday, November 15, 2009
— The Wisconsin Youth Gospel Fest got off to a slow—but prayerful—start Saturday.

But organizers expected a big turnout for the nighttime show.

More than 32 performers were registered for the event, and most were in the “16 and older” category that started at 7 p.m.

On Saturday afternoon, 12-year-old Khalia Singleton sang a rousing version of “Does Anybody Here Love My Jesus,” to a crowd of about 50 people while a panel of four judges listened.

She encouraged the audience to sing, and managed to get a few of them going.

The crowd liked it, and so did the judges.

They encouraged her to let loose.

“She’s got it, she’s got to let it out,” said judge Mike Neely of Red Dog Music.

Master of Ceremonies Lance Bakin encouraged performers to “work the stage.”

“When you’re at home, I bet you work the living room,” Bakin said. “Here you’ve got to work the stage.”

Singleton was followed by a spoken word performance by Mikal Cooks, an adult who was not formally competing.

She read a devotional based on Psalm 119 in a voice that sounded like it would be equally at home behind the pulpit or giving a stump speech.

It’s the first year for the event, but organizers hope to make it an annual occurrence.

Come Clean, a Beloit nonprofit, partnered with New Zion Baptist Church of Beloit to put on the show.

But the idea came from William Rinehart, an associate pastor at New Zion and owner of Come Clean.

“We’re going to do it, I’ve got faith that we can,” said Rinehart.

Yes, it’s about great music, but it’s more about kids.

“If youth had a more positive outlook, if they had something more to do, they wouldn’t be so attracted to negative influences,” Rinehart said.

Gospel Fest continues today, with the top five performers in each category performing in the finals.


What: Finals of the Wisconsin Youth Gospel Festival.

When: 4 and 7 p.m. today.

Where: Janesville Performing Arts Center, 408 S. Main St., Janesville

Cost: $11 for one show and $17 for two shows.

For more information: Go to and search for JPAC or call (608) 758-0297

Last updated: 11:57 am Thursday, December 13, 2012

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