On Saturday, Sept. 14, Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement Inc. (HCCI) hosted its first Harlem Inspired! Benefit Gospel Concert. The event was the kickoff for a concert series that will feature known and local talent to help support the programs of HCCI. The event was held at the newly renovated First Corinthian Baptist Church at its Performing Arts Sanctuary from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. in Harlem. Crowds lined around the block to attend this star-studded Harlem affair.
The concert was hosted by Liz Black of WBLS 107.5 FM and WLIB 1190 AM, who provided the crowd with spiritual enrichment and giveaways. Legendary sensation Regina Belle electrified the crowd with her gut-wrenching testimony that brought the crowd to their feet with hands raised and eyes filled with tears. Gaye Arbuckle, who studied under the tutelage of the late Rev. James Cleveland, proved she is truly an anointed and gifted singer and left the audience spiritually touched as she ministered in song.
Vocalist-pianist John Stanley and the Rev. Keith Branch and the Branch Company wowed the audience by bringing everyone to their feet, as they clapped their hands and rejoiced. Minister Melody Moore, praise and worship leader at Southern Baptist Church, kept the audience motivated with song with the Harlem Inspired! band playing in the background.
HCCI board member the Rev. Keith W. Robertson thanked his colleagues Dr. Carl Washington and the Rev. Jeffrey Crenshaw for all their help in planning this grand event. The evening rounded off with Yolanda Adams giving encouraging words of praise through song.