Grammy-winning artists Kirk Whalum and Regina Belle will co-host Entertainment Cruise Productions’ first annual Gospel Music Cruise. Setting sail March 6-13, 2016, the full-ship charter’s headliner slate includes Kirk Franklin, Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond, Shirley Caesar, Tye Tribbett, Marvin Sapp and Take 6.
Departing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, the Gospel Music Cruise will travel to the Caribbean islands of Grand Turk, Puerto Rico (San Juan), Tortola and Half Moon Cay. In a statement announcing the news, Entertainment Cruise Productions executive director Michael Lazaroff said, “It was time to dedicate a cruise to this most American form of music.”
Over the years, ECP has featured a gospel show on its more than 50 cruises, which have focused on such genres as country, smooth jazz, rock and roll, Elvis, Soul Train and Celtic. Whalum has either led or contributed to the gospel shows on these cruises. The saxophonist released the DVD version of his The Gospel According to Jazz IV on May 19. A docu-musical about the project will air on PBS on June 21.
“We’re sharing the truth of the gospel in such a way that music leads the charge,” says Whalum of the Gospel Music Cruise. “The collaboration aspect of this will be off the chain. We’re not hitting anybody over the head or playing an elite club kind of a game. We want the curious to feel welcome, to hear what this music and message are about.”