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The 2DE Gospel Fest shifts to hybrid event

The 2DE Gospel Fest moves to Warren this weekend after its first four years in Youngstown, but it’s not what organizers originally planned.

Original plans for an outdoor concert at the Warren Community Amphitheatre became impossible due to restrictions in place due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Sunday event now will feature Grammy-winning gospel singer Le’Andria Johnson performing at Second Baptist Church, 1510 Main Ave. SW, for a much smaller audience live and a pay-per-view audience that can purchase tickets to watch it at home.

Terrill Vidale of promoter 2Deep Entertainment said canceling the event never was a consideration.

“The main thing is we see the need for what we’re trying to do. We believe the world needs prayer right now, to come together as one in the body of Christ,” he said. “The main goal here is to create an environment where people can feel safe in coming and also watch it virtually as well. It’s a hybrid event — live and pay-per-view.”

Johnson was the season three winner in 2011 on “Sunday Best,” a gospel reality competition series on BET. She won a Grammy Award the following year for best gospel / contemporary Christian music performance, and she is known for such songs as “Jesus,” “It’s Gonna Be Alright,” “Grace,” “Better Days” and “Deliver Me (This Is My Exodus).”

She is the first female headliner of the festival. Past headliners when the event was in Youngstown were Fred Hammond, Tye Tribbett, James Fortune and Israel Houghton.

“She has a song ‘Better Days’ and ‘Deliver Me’ that just fell in line with what’s going on in society today,” Vidale said. “Her chorus is, ‘Better days are coming.’ That’s what we need.”

Vidale said the plan always was to move the event and serve as a bridge between Trumbull and Mahoning counties.

“We’re all the same valley, the same area. We didn’t want to just make it a Youngstown thing or a Warren thing. We wanted to switch it almost every other year. We want it to be something everyone can attend.

Tickets to see Johnson live at 6 p.m. Sunday are $60 and must be purchased by 3 p.m. Sunday at www.2deepevents.com. No tickets will be sold at the church the day of the performance. Pay-per-view access is $10 and also can be purchased at the website.

Also planned for the weekend is “Engaging the Executives,” a workshop and panel discussion on education, community development and economic empowerment.

Panelists will include William Shivers, regional president for Huntington Bank in Canton and the Mahoning Valley; Eddie Howard, vice president of student affairs at Youngstown State University; Arthur Daly, vice president of the Youngstown campus of Eastern Gateway Community College; and Peter Asimakopoulos, Youngstown market president for First National Bank.

The moderator will be Youngstown City Council President DeMaine Kitchen.

The workshop starts at 10 a.m. Saturday at Youngstown Event Center, 12 E. Dewey Ave., Youngstown. Admission is free to attend the event, and it also will be livestreamed at www.2deepevents.com.

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