As gospel singer and actress, Tamela Mann sang through a heartfelt rendition of “God Provides,” audience members began standing on their feet. Some shouted praises. Some threw their hands in the air.

It was a taste of gospel brought to Lakewood church on Friday evening before Sunday’s Super Bowl.

Hundreds gathered inside the megachurch pastored by Joel Osteen to hear sounds from Mann and favorites like native Houstonian Yolanda Adams and Grammy award winning artist Cece Winans, as part of the Super Bowl Gospel celebration. A taping of the event will air Super Bowl Sunday at 11 a.m.  on BET.

The show started with Prarie View University band members marching up and down the aisles. Houston rapper Lecrae crooned lyrics to “All I Need Is You” as the audience bobbed their heads to the bass.

Melanie Few-Harrison, daughter of a minister and lover of gospel music, thought of the idea years prior, when she realized Super Bowl festivities were missing an event focused on worship music.

“I said, ‘Where’s the gospel event?’” Harrison recalled asking, when she attended a Super Bowl in the early 1990s. She wrote a letter annually for the next seven years appealing to the NFL, with no response.

Finally, in 1999 the inaugural celebration was held in Miami, featuring a rousing performance from Gladys Knight. A total of 17 celebrations have been held during Super Bowl weekend since then, with past powerhouse singers including Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle.

The husband and wife duo, Tamela Mann and her husband David, who have starred in many Tyler Perry productions, kept the diverse crowd laughing throughout the night as the official hosts of the event.

As David scanned the audience sitting in the lower church sanctuary, he shouted, “We do everything big in Texas.”

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source: Houston Chronicle – Brooke A. Lewis

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