“Greatest Gospel Saxophonist” Visits CCC for Cultural Awareness Week
CLARKSDALE – Coahoma Community College students, faculty and staff, and community members witnessed why Dr. Vernard Johnson has been deemed “The Greatest Gospel Saxophonist in the World” during a performance Thursday in the Pinnacle.
The performance was part of CCC’s 2014 Cultural Awareness Week Celebration, themed “The Spark Still Glows and the Journey is Not Over”.
Dr. Johnson is the CEO and Founder of Amazing Grace International and of the Vernard Johnson Concert Ministry. He serves in many capacities including pastor, gospel recording artist, Symphony Orchestra conductor and composer, and the author of two books and more than 50 songs. He was recently inducted in to the International Gospel Hall of Fame and received the “Lifetime Achievement Award”.
Johnson earned a Bachelor of Music Education degree from Emporia State University; a Master of Church Music degree from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary; and was the first African American to receive a Doctorate in Sacred Music with a minor in Theology from Southwestern Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He is presently working on his second doctoral degree in Expository Preaching at Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, MO.
Johnson brought the crowd to their feet as he skillfully played gospel favorites that included “I Won’t Complain” and “Take me to the King” on his saxophone.
He shared his testimony as played a soulful rendition of “Amazing Grace” revealing that he dealt with severe asthma as a child, but was healed by the grace of God. Later in life, when faced with a choice to leave gospel music for other genres, Johnson said he’s maintained his promise to live for the Lord.
“God told me he’d take me before kings, queens and presidents, and he’s done just that,” Johnson told the crowd.
Johnson has performed before more than 400 million people, including Kings, Queens and Presidents of many nations such as the President of Kenya, Haiti, Liberia, Nigeria, Coast d’Ivory, and several American Presidents including George H.W.Bush, Sr., Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton.
He closed the performance with an impromptu choir made up of CCC students from the audience who sang along as he played “Oh Happy Day”.
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