It was finally time. Tuesday night I made my first venture through the media entrance of anything (our hockey arena in this case), was given a big pass to stick on my jacket and escorted to a meet and greet room. People were milling around with badges that said Event Staff, All Access, Talent or, like mine, Media. A house TV crew was ready to roll. The two main hosts of the show, Donald Lawrence and CeCe Winans, swept in for interviews and photos. I had no idea who they were. Somebody told me they were top gospel music stars.
A woman from the event's PR company reviewed what we could do. I had the run of the floor of the arena, including in front of the stage, as long as I didn't block the audience's view for more that a moment. Now, I don't look for gospel music when I turn on the radio. I'd never heard of the star hosts or judges. But the music was infectious, brilliant and bursting with feeling. Every choir was fabulous in its own way. I felt very privileged to be there, to hear and photograph it. It was exhausting too, on my feet and often crouching or kneeling for nearly four hours.
The singer in the top picture was one of the judges, Marvin Sapp. He was an electric performer who brought the audience to its feet, swaying, shouting and waving their arms. The bottom picture is one person's reaction to Winans' singing. I took about 1,300 snaps (I'm really good at taking poorly exposed and focused pictures). It's down to just over 400 in the first cut. The first to be edited are in a set on Flickr here. More on STL DPB in days to come.