Grammy adds gospel flair to Washington


WASHINGTON -- While not overtly political, having the Grammy Salute to Gospel in the nation's capital Friday gives national policymakers a chance to see that the music industry isn't just about money, sex, drugs and rock 'n' roll.

This year's show at the Lincoln Theatre will mark the first time it is being held outside Los Angeles. The annual event showcases some of the world's most talented religious musicians, who often are overlooked at the annual Grammy telecast.

Bringing it to Washington gives the industry a chance to showcase talent that lawmakers find more palatable than Ludicris, and it also helps introduce religious music to people who might not otherwise hear it. Choosing Washington was the subject of some discussion, said Recording Academy Washington chapter executive director Shannon Emamali.

"We went back and forth on that," she said. "But in the end, we decided that Washington was a perfect place because the gospel community is so entrenched here, while it would also give us an opportunity to diversify the music's appeal, and it's our nation's capital. Congress members live here."

The performers will include Yolanda Adams, Byron Cage, Donnie McClurkin, Kierra "Kiki" Sheard and Richard Smallwood. Donald Lawrence will oversee the performances as music director. Three-time Grammy winner Michael W. Smith, the Clark Sisters and Bobby Jones will receive the academy's President's Merit Award.

Emamali said the performers didn't plan any lobbying trips while here, but she expects lawmakers and other policy types to attend the show. President Bush is sending a message. Emamali said Bush is no stranger to the event, having met with Smith before.