"BLAND NEW" PRESS RELEASE
CD's are available at:
Barky's Record Store
1st & Broad Sts.
April 7, 2009
BLAND NEW PROJECT
On Palm Sunday, Richmond’s Larry Bland unveiled a special preview of his soon to be released recording project exclusively on radio station WCLM-1450 AM. Hosted by station owner Preston Brown, the “Bland New” project was broadcast worldwide on the internet as well.
Known for his pioneering and popularization of choreographed gospel choir performance, Mr. Bland is hoping to use this project as a fundraiser to financially assist him in lending his name and expertise to help local musicians achieve their goal of recording, promoting and marketing their product.
This is in line with the vision of the mission of WCLM station owner and General Manager, Preston Brown, who has a longstanding history of strong advocacy and support of local talent. In fact, this was the driving force that led to his spearheading the purchase of the radio station in 1996.
Listeners will have the opportunity to be the first to support Mr. Bland’s fundraising efforts by downloading for a fee a sample of the tracks from the Route 5 Records website. Copies can also be purchased at Barky’s Record Store in downtown Richmond.
In keeping with Bland’s mission the project was recorded, produced, marketed, and is being sold exclusively with black owned businesses.
As he cited during Sunday’s interview and unveiling, “The Richmond Free Press Editor, Ray Boone, continues to remind us to ‘vote with our dollars’. We also need to support one another the same way.”
Mr. Bland has received numerous public service and outstanding arts administrator awards for his accomplishments in directing and coordinating special events, most notably serving as the first black to direct the Federated Arts Council and City of Richmond’s June Jubilee Festival.
He has directed the Volunteer Choir for over 40 years and has worked in law firm administration in Washington, D.C. as well as in operations internationally with The Discovery Channel.
The 3rd Annual Gospel Music Fest With 'The Belle'
at Dogwood Dell,
Set for Sunday, July 15, 2012 At 5:00p.m. in Richmond , VA
Youth - Gospel Hip-Hop @ 4:00p.m.
Special Tribute to Gospel Music Legend Larry Bland
Richmond, VA –
“The 3rd Annual Gospel Music Fest with The Belle” is set to return to a city that has long been known for its mixture of Traditional and Quartet sounds. From Sunday morning church services to evening Gospel concerts, the stage is now being set for one of the largest Gospel outdoor concerts on the East Coast. The 3rd Annual Gospel Music Fest with “The Belle” will include the sounds of Traditional, Contemporary, Urban, Gospel Hip-Hop and Neo Soul Gospel.
The vision was birthed from the spirit of Gospel music industry, multimedia journalist, publicist and promoter Sheilah Belle a.k.a. “The Belle” after receiving the invitation, now three years ago, from the Cultural Arts Manager for the City of Richmond, Brian Little to pull together a Gospel event.
“I’m a Richmond native, who grew up in Byrd Park . My weekends often included going to Dogwood Dell with family members and friends to see plays and concerts or enjoy the fireworks while standing around Fountain Lake . When I received the call to pull together and produce a Gospel Event for my own city, I was speechless,” says The Belle. “All I could think about were the endless opportunities I could provide for so many talented people who sing and dance before the Lord from Richmond and beyond.”
It was only days later when The Belle put together a rough draft with Brian Little smiling with approval.
Little says, “While we have had several spiritual and inspirational events hosted for the city of Richmond at various venues, I am excited about what Ms. Belle is bringing to the table for Dogwood Dell. Our goal is to grow what we have been doing for years and open the doors for new comers and new talent.”
Traditionally Dogwood Dell has played host to concerts, plays and musicals that showcase local talent from June to August yearly. Family members and friends come throughout the Summer with lawn chairs and picnic baskets. Some of their special Gospel guests over the years have included Larry Bland and the Volunteer Choir, God’s Image and Cora Armstrong. This year you can expect to see a few more familiar faces and several new ones, along with more than 20 other groups and performers.
The Belle says, “I am extremely excited about the doors God is opening and making room for as we now have talent coming in from as far away as Jacksonville , FL and Boston , Mass. My goal this year is to
truly have something for everyone from traditional to Gospel Hip Hop."
This year, The Belle says, "I'm also excited about the Praise Party we will be bringing to life this year, which will be produced by Stellar Award Winner Minister Earl Bynum!
One of our highlights this year will be a special tribute to the Legendary Larry Bland, who is responsible for so much of Richmond 's Gospel Heritage. This is such an honor to do something for someone, who has already done so much for so many!
There is so much talent out here, not only in Richmond , but across the country and providing them with a stage, an audience and an opportunity, is what some of them simply need. Hopefully we’ll be able to provide just that with the blessing of my own city.”
Excerpts taken from “The Belle Report”
Set for Sunday, July 15, 2012 at 5:00p.m.
at Dogwood Dell
Richmond, VA –
When it comes to Gospel music in Richmond , VA , Gospel Music Legend, Larry Bland is a house whole name. Famous for bringing one of the top choirs to hit the city in the 70’s and 80’s, the Volunteer Choir and the founder of the Virginia State University Gospel Choir, Bland’s history with Gospel music is rich.
He is known for setting the standard and continues to be known for his stage presentation and his many contributions to the Gospel music Community.
To celebrate his many contributions and his love for Gospel music, a special tribute for Larry Bland will be held on Sunday, July 15 at 5:00p.m. during the 3rd Annual Gospel Music Fest with The Belle. This special presentation and tribute for Mr. Bland, hosted by Dr. Bobby Jones and Sheilah Belle, will take place at Dogwood Dell in Byrd Park in Richmond , VA and is absolutely FREE! For more information about the 3rd Annual Gospel Music Fest with The Belle, log on to www.thebellereport.net
About Larry Bland
Larry J. Bland, a native Richmonder, is a highly respected musician, arts administrator, producer, performer, and business professional. Mr. Bland’s multi-talents have been revealed in his accomplishments as a trailblazer in his innovations in gospel music presentation, being among the very first nationally to introduce choreographed, “gospel show choir” formatted performances.
In addition, he has received numerous public service and outstanding arts administrator awards for his accomplishments in directing and coordinating special events, most notably serving as the first black to direct the City of Richmond’s June Jubilee Festival in the early 1980’s.
He has directed the Volunteer Choir for the past 40+ years, touring extensively on the East Coast, appearing in Los Angeles before The Late James Cleveland (1981), garnering numerous awards and critical acclaim for his unique brand of musicianship and presentation. He has also directed various choirs within sacred music programs for many churches in the Richmond , Virginia and Washington , D.C. metropolitan areas.
He is a 1977 graduate of Virginia State College, receiving his B.S. Degree in Vocal Music Education. During his matriculation at VSC, he most notably founded the Virginia State College (University) Gospel Choir (1972).
He has worked professionally in the legal and entertainment industries where he contributed greatly to the success of the launch and ongoing success of the Discovery Channel’s partnership with the British Broadcasting Corporation on the domestic and international level, coordinating programming summits and providing administration in London , France and Singapore . He also planned and coordinated the launch event for TV-One.
Mr. Bland has several Richmond-based recordings to his credit and has accomplishments also in the secular community, having partnered his talents with the Richmond Symphony, Richmond Opera Company, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, City of Richmond Department of Parks and Recreation, United Way, March of Dimes (to name a few) and most notably with the Commonwealth of Virginia’s May 2007 Royal Welcome to Queen Elizabeth. He has also led his group in performances before former Virginia Governor Mark Warner, along with special guest appearances at The Wolf Trap Amphitheater, Constitution Hall, RFK Stadium and The Ronald Reagan Building in Washington , D.C.
Mr. Bland has received critical acclaim for his theatrical portrayals of “Purlie” in the musical of same title, his musical directorship of productions of “The Amen Corner”, “Don’t Bother I Can’t Cope”, as well as Chorus Master for The Richmond Opera Company’s premiere production of Scott Joplin’s opera, “Treemonisha.”
Mr. Bland’s ongoing commitment to the preservation and presentation of traditional and contemporary gospel music is most noted in incorporation of The Volunteer Choir as a 501(c)3 nonprofit arts organization. The organization continues to present limited concerts and special appearances under Mr. Bland’s artistic direction.
Prior to his 2010 return to the Washington, D.C. area to provide administrative management for an entertainment law firm, Mr. Bland provided two years of administration and operations management assistance for Paradigm Communications’ Richmond Free Press, a black-owned and operated newspaper in Richmond, Virginia.
He is currently serving as Artist In Residence on the music staff at First Baptist Church ( South Richmond , VA ) where he directs the Praise Team Ministry. Mr. Bland is also serving the Richmond church community as a solo artist, choral/music director and workshop facilitator.
and the City of Richmond
To The Belle!
I want you to know how deeply appreciative I am for the distinct honor you and the City of Richmond bestowed upon me this past weekend. To have so many gospel music artists and Dr. Bobby Jones in the same place at the same time was truly a staggering accomplishment. The Belle is to be commended for vision and determination.
The tradition of having the gospel music genre represented during the Summer Music Festival at Dogwood Dell is yet another one of my visions that I have lived to see come to great fruition. In addition to the success of The Volunteer Choir, The Virginia State University Gospel Choir and so many other individuals that I have been associated with throughout the years, being able to see the distinguished progress of so much of my life's work is a blessing that only has been made possible by the hand of God.
From the moment I was contacted by Sheila and notified of this honor, I have experienced such a wonderful feeling of love and appreciation. And then when I looked out my door and saw the limousine on Sunday afternoon, I knew I was in store for a joy that very few people get to experience in this life. I want to thank each and every one that played any part in making the day very special for me and so many people in the City of Richmond . You all are to be commended for a job extremely well done!
I have full confidence and belief that Sheila Belle is destined for greatness and I sincerely hope and pray that God will continue to bless and keep her and sustain her dreams and aspirations.
God Bless You All With My Sincere Thanks!
A tribute to Larry Bland & Marie Goodman Hunter