Hundreds of gospel singers from home and abroad will descend on Kilkenny this weekend to take part in the first international choral festival of its kind.
Among those travelling to take part is a man described as one of America’s top gospel rappers, Adrian ‘Fro’ Johnson, who will give workshops to students as well as perform during the festival.
The International Gospel Choir Festival is running until Sunday in various venues throughout Kilkenny and is expected to provide a boost to the tourism sector at the end of the summer season.
Visitors are being encouraged to attend several events, including a free gospel performance at 2.30pm today in Castle-comer Discovery Park, when choirs will sing for the public in the Estate Yard.
Music lovers are also invited to attend a unique festival finale concert on Sunday evening at St Mary’s Cathedral in the city when all the visiting choirs will perform their music in unison, alongside some high-profile guest artists.
Award-winning Irish singer-songwriter Don Mescall and his long-term co-writing collaborator Chris Pelcer have composed an exclusive official anthem for the International Gospel Choir Festival.
Don will sing the specially-penned gospel song, Faith and Friendship, publicly for the first time with support from the gospel singers at the St Mary’s concert.
The popular singer said the anthem was "a joy to write" for the festival.
"For me, music feeds the soul, lifts the spirit and makes you feel better about the world.
"I am really looking forward to hearing all of these amazing choirs sing this song together. I think it will be a momentous occasion and I’m really excited to be part of that," he said.
Festival founder and Kilkenny gospel choir director Fr Willie Purcell said they were "excited" to reveal the new song and to be part of its official recording.
"This festival is a first for all involved and we have some very exciting guests from the US involved, whom we are delighted to welcome to Kilkenny."
The choirs will participate in three days of musical and cultural activities with a variety of concerts and performances planned for various venues across Kilkenny.
* See www.kilkennygospelchoirfestival.com for more information.