Victoria’s Ladies of Gospel

Victoria’s Ladies of Gospel

Black gospel music at soul of new Victoria festival

Victoria Gospel Music Festival set for Alix Goolden Hall on Sept. 20

Though she was raised in a Roman Catholic family, music producer and singer Maria Manna said what really shook her soul was black gospel music — and now she wants to share those uplifting melodies with Victoria.

Manna is organizing Victoria’s first Gospel Music Festival next month at Alix Goolden Hall, though she said it’s been a long time coming.

“I thought it was time to give people what they were looking for — good black gospel music right here in Victoria,” Manna said. “People want to lift their souls, but they don’t want to go to church, they don’t want to be preached to. They want music that gives you goosebumps, that makes you feel good.”

The two-day festival takes place Sept. 19 and 20, and will feature four performances. Local musician Aaron Scoones will kick off the event, followed by the 50-member Universal Gospel Choir from Vancouver. The Ladies of Gospel trio, of which Manna is a member, will open for headliner Marvin Matthews.

Proceeds from the Victoria Gospel Music Festival go towards the music therapy program at the Victoria Conservatory of Music, which helps troubled youth, among others, express themselves through music.

“It feels good to know the festival can help people in my own backyard. Music heals the soul,” Manna said. “Gospel music gives you this wonderful feeling, like your soul is doing a little bit of a dance in your body.”