Organizers of an upcoming Christian hiphop concert say they hope the event will make a positive impact on local youth.
The “Back2Truth Back to School” concert is set for 6:30 p.m., Saturday in the First Baptist Church activity building at 400 E. Broadway in Gainesville.
Event organizer Jerry Doyle said he believes the free concert will help minister to area youngsters who identify with the hiphop community.
Doyle said, at first, he wasn’t sure how to launch his outreach effort.
“I have wanted to do something for youth in our community for the last couple of years, and I just really didn’t feel like I had the backing and support necessary to get it done,” Doyle said.
Doyle said after he crossed paths with Christian rap artist GS (God’s Son) on Twitter he realized Christian hiphop might be the answer.
“I just felt like music might be a way to reach out to youth in our community,” he said. “People that feel left behind by a lot of people in our community.”
Doyle said the concert is for all local youth, not just members of First Baptist Church.
“We really think the entire community needs to be reached,” he said.
Saturday’s concert will feature four artists — GS, Princeton, Dillon Chase, B-Les and ten-year-old rapper Noelani.
Travis Wilson, a former University of Oklahoma receiver who played for the Cleveland Browns will emcee the event and Christian auto club member Ray Lizalde is expected to display some of his lowrider vehicles outside the concert venue.
Doyle said he believes teens and others are drawn to hiphop music because it gives voice to almost every emotion — fear, grief, rage or frustration.
But while rappers vent about run-ins with police, using drugs and other social maladies, Christian rap music promotes better lifestyle choices and ultimately, a happier existence.
“That’s the main thing,” Doyle said. “There is an alternative to the foul, gangster-type rap that’s out there. These artists didn’t get into rap because of money or because they think they are the best poet. They want to reach a community that desperately needs to be infiltrated with God’s word. They will be giving these people something they’ve been craving a long time — a great message with their music.”
The concert is also designed to coincide with the start of the new school year.
“I feel like we are trying to change our community and give our kids a boost into the school year — to (help them) take God’s word with them into the school year.
Doyle said Saturday night’s concert marks the first time he’s planned a public event.
“I have never done anything like this before,” he said. “It’s all thanks to help from co-workers of mine who have stepped up by giving a hundred (dollars) here and a hundred there.”
He said he signed contracts with some of the performers on little more than faith.
“I didn’t want to ask the church for the money,” he said. “But felt like I had to do this. I started signing contracts with different artists and the whole thing has been paid for except for $300.”
Doyle said several individuals including local business owners stepped in to help fund the concert.
Many other individuals have volunteered their time to help with the project, he added.
He also said he’s grateful for the support of FBC pastor Dr. James Egan, the church’s missions minister Steve Roach and youth minister Shannon Cunningham.
“Their help and guidance has helped me focus on exactly what needed to be done. They make sure the focus stays where it needs to be,” Doyle said.
He said he isn’t sure how many music fans with attend the gospel hiphop concert but would be thrilled if the activity building — which can accommodate up to 400 people — were filled to capacity.
“We’re hopeful and prayerful that we’ll have the house full,” he said.
Information about the Back2Truth concert is available on First Baptist Church’s Facebook page.