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Gospel in spotlight at SeaGate Centre


The Rance Allen Group.

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Gospel music will be flowing with "flava" tonight when Tonex, Kim Burrell, Ramiyah, and the Rance Allen Group lead an all-star concert dubbed the G-Flava Gospel Explosion 2004.

Tonex (pronounced Toe-Nay) is an ordained minister from San Diego who has said he is seeking to elevate gospel music to the top of the entertainment field. His latest release, the double-disc "Out of the Box," was released in May on Jive Records' Verity gospel label.

Tonex's new disc, which merges hip-hop, pop, R&B, and gospel music, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard gospel album chart and was one of the rare CDs to be listed simultaneously on four different Billboard charts.

Also performing tonight will be Ramiyah, a female foursome from Detroit whose self-titled hip-hop/gospel debut disc was released last year on Sony Records.

"It's not common for young people in this day and age to listen to gospel music," says Ramiyah member Stephanie Bonner. "We show them it's cool to stand up for God."

The Rance Allen Group features the Rev. Rance Allen, pastor of Toledo's New Bethel Church of God in Christ, with his brothers Thomas and Steve. The group twice was nominated for Grammy Awards and this year was up for three Stellar Awards.

First Creation, also from Toledo, was formed more than 16 years ago by the Rev. Jerry Boose, a minister and an administrator for the Toledo Fire Department's health and welfare plan, and its current lineup features Terry Thomas, Jesse Coleman, and Ron Hogue.

The vocal quartet was named best local gospel group for several years by popular vote in the Lake Erie West People's Choice Awards.

The concert will be rounded out by performances by Tawann Gaston and Melody Sherman.

The G-Flava Gospel Explosion 2004 begins at 7 tonight in the SeaGate Convention Centre, 401 Jefferson Ave. Tickets are $28.50 and $34 from the box office, 419-321-5007.

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