Luther Barnes

Malakoff residents and others on Saturday will gather for the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Gospel Explosion at Johnson Chapel AME Church.

This event will consist of area choirs, soloists and a male chorus coming together to celebrate King's legacy. On Monday, the Henderson County Black History Committee is hosting a MLK candlelight vigil, with gospel recording artist Luther Barnes. It is his first appearance in East Texas.

Barnes is a native of Rocky Mount, N.C., and the son of the late Bishop F. C. Barnes and the late Willie Mae Barnes.

"We give all praise and glory to God to be presenting a traditional gospel recording artist and minister such as Rev. Luther Barnes,” said the Rev. Joey Baggett, president of the Henderson County Black History Committee said. “Rev. Barnes is truly a well-known singer and minster who took time out of his busy schedule to come to Athens to help the HCBHC with its annual Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. candlelight vigil and to help raise money for our scholarship fund.”

This is the committee's first fundraiser before a full month of events in February. All funds are used to aid students who are seniors throughout Henderson County who want to attend college.

“We give scholarships to all ethnic groups, and we try to give the students encouragement and to let them know that knowledge is power,” Baggett said.

Barnes graduated from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh in 1976 with a bachelor's degree in music education. He then taught music in the Nash and Edgecombe School System and taught private lessons in voice and piano.

In 1984, Barnes left teaching to devote full time to his music ministry. He traveled for years with his father and sister, Janice Brown, after they recorded the popular song, “Rough Side of the Mountain.”

Over the years, musician has evolved into one of gospel music’s premier male vocal artists while recording over 30 albums and CDs with The Red Budd Gospel Choir and the Sunset Jubilaires.

Some of his most noted songs are “I’m Still Holding On,” “Jesus Cares,” “It’s Your Time,” “Yet Love” and “God’s Grace” from his latest release with The Restoration Worship Center Choir.

Barnes has received numerous awards and accolades including The Stellar Award for Traditional CD of the Year, The Vision Award, The Gospel Heritage Award, The GMWA Excellence Award, The Truth Magazine Award in 2003, Best Male Vocalist of the Year and a Grammy Award nomination in 2004.  He was inducted into the Twin County Hall of Fame in 2006. Barnes and the Sunset Jubilaires, along with his father,  have been inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame in Detroit, Mich., and in Birmingham.

He was called to preach in 2006 and pastor of Restoration Worship Center in Rocky Mount. He is married to Pamela Anglin Barnes.

The event on Saturday is set for 6:30 p.m. The candlelight vigil at Church of the Living God is planned for 7, with doors opening at 6. Reserve seating is $25. Call 903-489-2329 or 903-275-1330.