John Bazemore, Associated Press
ATLANTA — Christian rapper Lecrae first came to Atlanta as a teenager for a youth conference in 1999, but what ultimately convinced him to lay down roots here was its thriving gospel music scene.
"Atlanta is just a musical hub," said the 32-year-old, who moved from Houston three years ago. "There are a slew of producers, engineers, artists and writers. There's a wealth of outlets here, and it's a community of artists who are here as well. That's a major reason why I came here."
Atlanta has become a key place of business for many of the heavyweights in gospel and Christian music, like Marvin Sapp, Mary Mary, Kirk Franklin and Jason Crabb. They flock to the city known to some as "gospel's Hollywood" because of its flourishing R&B and hip-hop scene, an evolving television market, a variety of Christian and gospel record labels, and a plethora of mega churches. Some of the industry's best, such as Francesca Battistelli, the group Casting Crowns, Chris Tomlin and Dottie Peoples, reside in the city or in the suburban areas.
"Atlanta is becoming like the new Los Angeles," said Sapp, the chart-topping gospel singer from Grand Rapids, Mich.
"Everybody and their momma are shooting all types of films here," he added. "It's becoming a regular hotbed for the entertainment field. And because of that, gospel is coming here as well. People are connecting. It's becoming a very viable place for gospel artists to excel and be successful musically."
Recently, the 43rd annual Dove Awards took place at the popular Fox Theatre in Atlanta for the second straight year. The show, which celebrates Christian and gospel music, had all the glitz and glamour of a high-profile awards show, with more than 250 media outlets on the red carpet.
The rising support of the genre in Atlanta is what convinced Gospel Music Association organizers to move the Doves to the city in 2011. The ceremony started in Memphis and was held in Nashville, Tenn., for more than four decades.
GMA board chairman Mitchell Solarek said organizers felt Atlanta has a larger media reach with more radio and television outlets to support the show. With GMC — formerly the Gospel Music Channel — based in Atlanta, Solarek called the move a "no brainer." The network aired the awards in April.
"Even though Nashville is touted as the music capital of the world, the media is not as broad there as it is in Atlanta," he said. "We wanted to take this (awards show) to a market that was broader than it was in Nashville, while still achieving our goal of musical diversity and still reach the bulk of our members. And Atlanta is just a drive away."
That sounds good to the ears of Georgia officials, who have worked hard to promote the state as an entertainment destination. They offer one of the highest tax credits in the United States — up to 30 percent to those looking to produce shows, music videos and commercials in the state.
"We are developing strategies to aggressively promote Georgia's strengths in the music industry including its wealth of talent, expanding digital media infrastructure, production facilities, live music scene and music education opportunities" said Lisa Love, the director of music marketing and development for the Georgia film, music & digital entertainment office.
"The gospel and contemporary Christian-oriented assets in all of those areas will continue to be invaluable in the positioning of Georgia as an entertainment industry destination," she continued.
- From 0.3 to 81.1: What percentage of each...
- Small town residents: Chevron pizza 'scandal'...
- Half of millennials more likely to lean...
- Obama administration allows 2-year extension...
- 23 Mormon missionaries in Ukraine transferred...
- Report: Ukraine base in Crimea under siege
- New Ukraine prime minister: Crimea will...
- Disney ending funding to Boy Scouts in 2015...
- No longer loyal to Boy Scouts of... 51
- Obama administration allows 2-year... 28
- Putin: Russia has right to use force in... 21
- Disney ending funding to Boy Scouts in... 21
- Half of millennials more likely to lean... 12
- Obama appeals to Democrats in 2015... 11
- Former IRS official Lois Lerner again... 11
- Ukrainian software professionals... 10