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NFL Super Bowl Gospel Celebration marks 70th anniversary season of blacks in pro football

(October 31, 2016) The NFL Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, the only multicultural event sanctioned by the National Football League, will kick-off Super Bowl 51 on Friday, February 3, 2017 with its 18th annual star-studded concert at Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

The annual event joins together key NFL Players, top Gospel/Contemporary Christian and mainstream GRAMMY Award-winning artists and special guests all on one stage to bring audiences an evening of uplifting music and inspirational messages. Tickets are available now through Ticket Master and Ticket Servant. Sponsor opportunities are available.

The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration was launched in Miami in 1999 during Super Bowl XXXIII weekend. The event became the first, and remains the only gospel concert sanctioned by the National Football League. The show has drawn thousands and has demonstrated growth year-after-year, selling out venues in major Super Bowl host cities including Dallas, Tampa, Detroit, Jacksonville, Houston and Phoenix.

"We founded this event to bring even more inspiration and celebration to one of the biggest events of the year -- the Super Bowl," says Melanie Few-Harrison, Creator & Executive Producer of Super Bowl Gospel Celebration. "Each year we aim to touch lives in a meaningful way and make the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration bigger than the last with artists and special guests. We look forward to kicking off Super Bowl 51 in Houston and making our mark as the best most uplifting event we’ve had in our 18-year history!"

This year marks the 70th anniversary of the first black players to enter the professional football league, Kenny Washington and Woody Storde. Both were hired by the Los Angeles Rams in 1946 when the city informed the Rams that it could not lease their newly-built home stadium to a segregated team. The law required that since public funds were used to build the new facility, the Rams had to have at least one African-American player on its roster. On the recommendation of the stadium commission, the Rams subsequently signed two black former students from the UCLA Bruins football team, Washington in March 1946, and Strode two months later.

Coincidently, Washington and Strode were not the only Bruins to break the color barrier in professional sports. Another member of the team’s backfield by the name of Jackie Robinson, became the first black to play with a professional baseball team when he signed a year later with the Brooklyn Dodgers in April of 1947.

Super Bowl Gospel Celebration is by far, the largest multicultural event to take place during Super Bowl weekend in its 18-year run as an NFL sanctioned concert. SBGC has featured artists including Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Yolanda Adams, Gladys Knight, Natalie Grant, Mary Mary, Fantasia, Donnie McClurkin, Anthony Hamilton, Kirk Franklin, Jacquie Velasquez, Israel Houghton and Marvin Sapp, among many others. The show features amazing testimonies from current and former NFL Players. Hundreds of players participated including Ry Lewis, Ray Lewis, Emmitt Smith, Tony Dungy, Tim Brown, Devon Still to name a few.

The highlight of the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration is the Players Choir. Featuring current and former NFL players, the choir has become one of the most anticipated performances during Super Bowl Weekend. Celebrating its ten-year anniversary, the choir made its debut at the 2008 show with more than 40 members.

For more information about Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, visit: Facebook & Twitter: @SuperBowlGospel

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