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An inspiring evening of Super Bowl gospel music

Posted 8:36am on Saturday, Feb. 05, 2011

DALLAS -- The audience was slow to arrive and file through the slush and into Music Hall at Fair Park, but they came. After about an hour into the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration Concert, the 3,000-seat house looked full. And unlike other Super Bowl concerts, the headliners were reportedly present.

They hadn't performed before the Star-Telegram deadline. But the performers we did see -- Marvin Sapp, and Israel Houghton and New Breed -- were doing a fine job of warming up the audience.

The event is the 12th year for a major gospel concert in the Super Bowl host area. This one, hosted by gospel star CeCe Winans (who was scheduled to sing later in the show, too), brought out NFL stars (former Falcons fullback Ovie Mughelli; and former Cowboy and Dancing With the Stars finalist Emmitt Smith, wife Pat and their children, among them) to talk about their charitable work and offer up testimony.

In the crowd, nonathlete celebrities were spotted, including civil-rights leader Jesse Jackson.

But the magic was in the music.

Sapp, a minister and gospel singer from Michigan, scored in a praise-and-worship section, audience members standing and singing along to his soulful voice.

Houghton, who is the worship leader at Houston's Lakewood Church, energized the crowd early.

With a hint of funk mixed into the rock sound, Houghton's band New Breed could be the cheerleaders of this cheerleaderless Super Bowl, what with their pep.

Houghton's raspy voice won over even the non-gospel-listening audience members, especially with the fire in a song like Just Wanna Say.

If the rest of the Super Bowl entertainment is as inspiring as this evening of "faith and football," then we're in for a solid weekend.

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