By: Tony McCray
(PNS)-Englewood Missionary Baptist Church exploded with some of the best gospel artists from Pensacola and Blytheville, Arkansas brought together by some longstanding professional and church relationships. Mary McDaniel, the event’s lead promoter, is originally from Cantonment. She is now the CEO of Divas Roc 2 Promotions out of Memphis and pulled together the high powered gospel talent review in association with Mike Riley of Lighten-Up Entertainment here in Pensacola. They collaborated with Rev. Larry Watson, Jr. and Englewood Missionary Baptist Church, where McDaniel used to attend, and they developed a delicious recipe of praise dancers and musical performances.
McDaniel organized the star studded gospel night of performers which included the MJJ Praise Dancers, the Visionaries, Dwayne Cochran, Rev. J.H. Miller and the First Baptist Church Choir, Rev. Larry Watson, and Pastor Tim Rodgers and the Fellas from Blytheville, Arkansas. Riley served as the “ground game” coordinator and the hospitality ambassador the night of the gospel concert.
The long term relationships of Englewood Church helped to shape the dynamic lineup. McDaniel disclosed that she made the connection with Pastor Tim Rodgers and Rev. Watson assisted with making the arrangements with the MJJ Praise Dancers from 6th Avenue Baptist Church, the Visionaries, Rev. Miller and his choir and the two of them approached Dwayne Cochran of BET’s Sunday’s Best fame.
Rev. Larry Watson performed “Thank You, Lord” and “Made A Way”. In an interview with the Pensacola Voice Watson revealed that he chose gospel numbers that reflect how he feels about his journey through life. He stated, “Ultimately I am thankful for the blessings the Lord has provided for me and the Lord has definitely made a way even when I thought my back was up against the wall”! The Watson siblings of Larry, Aaron, Maurice and Heavenly made up a talented family gospel group when McDaniel was a member of the church. She remembers them fondly to this day. Now Larry, Aaron, and Maurice make up the PK’s that are making musical strides today.
Rev. Watson Jr. was so proud of the success of the show over last weekend that he went on to express how he feels that Englewood Church has a stronger role to play in the neighborhood it is named after. He went on to say, “Englewood is close to downtown and when you see how that business area is developing we could develop this area to benefit from the economic growth of downtown”. With the possibility of Pastor Tim Rodgers and the Fellas returning in December, Pensacola better look out for the energy being created by the long term and enduring business relationships that are emerging out of Englewood Missionary Baptist Church.