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Baisley Park hosts Gospel Fest

Extreme heat and humidity did not stop a huge crowd from gathering at Baisley Pond Park Saturday and getting some soul in their weekend.

The park hosted the fifth-annual Gospel Fest and dozens of southeast Queens residents and some visitors from outside the neighborhood found cozy spots near the stage to catch a glimpse of the artists. ´╗┐Those who attended the free gospel and soul music concert said it was a good way to bring the community together.

“I think it’s good for the neighborhood. You can’t beat good soul,” said Brother Masai, 45, who is also a musician.

The event was sponsored by radio station WLIB and City Councilman Thomas White (D-South Ozone Park) and included performances from musicians such as Valerie Boyd, Sheena Lee and Gary Anglin. WLIB DJ Liz Black also entertained the crowd with some small talk in-between acts.

Mike Allen, 40, of Jamaica, who came to see one of his friends perform at the show, said the performances were worth coming out for in the rising temperatures.

“You’ve got a lot of good singers here, so it’s all good — even in the heat,” he said.

The singers were not the only artists showcasing their talents on the stage. The Gospel Fest also featured local talent, including the Greater Allen Liturgical Dancers, New Greater Bethel Choir and other youth bands.

Yvonne Jones-Lorde, a former southeast Queens resident who now lives in Nassau County, said she came back to her old neighborhood because it brought out the best of the community’s artists.

“It’s outdoors, it’s fun and it’s all about friends,” she said.

State Assemblyman William Scarborough (D-St. Albans), who was also on hand for the show, agreed. The elected official said the program has been growing in popularity over the last half decade because of the great sounding tunes.

“Every year I come out here and they have good acts. People seem to come in, see it and embrace [Gospel Fest],” he said.

Clemency Cooke, who lives in Brooklyn, ventured out to Baisley Pond Park with her friend, Lucy Herbert of Manhattan, to catch the acts. Cooke, who like her friend is originally from England, said it was her first time to visit the southeast Queens greenspace and that she enjoyed the decor along with the soul music.

“This place seems very nice,” she said. “It’s nice to go to somewhere new that you don’t know about.”

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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