By Mr. Mark Iacampo (IMCOM)February 11, 2011
HOHENFELS, Germany -- Spirits soared as a congregation of award-winning Gospel performers kicked off their "Lift Up Your Spirits Tour" at the Hohenfels Community Activity Center Feb. 9.
Headlined by James Fortune and FIYA, recipients of the 2009 ASCAP Song of the Year award, the night also included performances by the Stellar award winning sisters RiZen, and Grammy nominated Canton Jones. Opening the show was Sgt. Calvin Sneed, fresh from his recent tour with the 2010 U.S. Army Soldier Show.
Fortune said the tour's title really expresses their goal.
"I think a lot of these Soldiers, being over here, they need that encouragement," he said. "And to really be a part of that is just an honor and a privilege."
Sneed opened the show with a bang, quickly getting the crowd on their feet and hopping.
"This is my passion," Sneed said. "I'm a pastor of worship back in my church, so I do it Sunday after Sunday, but being able to do it on this platform is amazing."
Sneed is as big of a fan of his co-stars as the thousands who buy their CDs.
"They are great vocalists," he said. "I was listening to their soundcheck and I'm just like - Wow! This is such a great opportunity, just being in this atmosphere, touring on the bus with them. It's amazing."
Jones started his set by declaring, "There's no need to be a sad Christian." He promptly demonstrated the fact by "getting old school" and launching into the stepper's groove, "Love Song," the hit single from his CD, "Love Jones." Jones' smooth vocals and powerful stage presence left the audience little doubt about why this hip performer has three Gospel Choice Awards under his belt.
"I'm so grateful that we had an opportunity to get performers like this here," said audience member Niakita Booker. "I'm just glad I had an opportunity to be here, up front."
Adriann and Aundrea Lewis, the two powerhouse vocalists of RiZen, followed with a high energy performance that literally rocked the walls. Their vivaciousness and passion kept the audience on their feet and dancing throughout the set.
Adriann took a moment onstage to thank the Soldiers.
"You're the reason that I can go to sleep at night and rest peacefully and not be concerned that anything's going to happen to me before the next morning," she said. "It's an honor just to be asked to come over here and sing for you."
Fortune and FIYA closed out the night with some songs highlighting their message of hope and salvation, including the chart topping "I Trust You", the longest running #1 hit single for any genre.
Before launching into the band's 2004 smash hit "You Survived", Fortune related a tale of a Soldier who approached him once after a show. The Soldier told him of combat and confessed he'd often considered suicide, but that Fortune's music and his message had helped him through.
"We appreciate your sacrifice," Fortune told the crowd. "What you have to give up in order for us to be free."
"It was a blessing and an honor to have them here, too," said Sgt. Wanda Ruiz of the Hohenfels Health Clinic. "Wherever they go, they're going to plant the same bliss as they did here."
"It was awesome from opening to end," agreed her husband, Alfonso. "Just like the man said, it's a Holy Ghost party you can't stop."
RiZen's Aundrea Lewis said the tour provided them the opportunity to let Soldiers know that their service and sacrifice touches people they don't even know.
"All of us back home in the States really appreciate them," she said. "Today is a great day when we can speak for our Nation on their behalf and tell the Soldiers: Thank you."