- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 31, 2002

Hopeville definitely is the place to be. DAR Constitution Hall came alive Tuesday night as three Grammy-winning gospel singers took the stage. Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin joined forces for their Hopeville Tour, which proved to be an experience like none other. For those who missed the three-hour performance, the trio has a final show this evening.
Miss Adams and Mr. McClurkin sang the opening number, "Lovely Day," with the help of about 15 background singers on Hopeville Avenue. The band, including a horn section and stellar guitarist Doc Powell, was interspersed throughout the neighborhood set displayed onstage, which featured a grocery store, an apartment building and a church. Mr. Franklin made his entrance on a bicycle, which was just the beginning of his comical antics during the evening. He confidently told the audience, "There ain't no party like a Holy Ghost party."
As Miss Adams started into a set of her songs, she explained that Hopeville is "not a play, not a musical, but not a concert's concert." She said, "I hope you will be encouraged and lifted up, in light of the tragedies that happened in this city," referring to deaths from September 11, anthrax and sniper shootings.
Her selections included "Never Give Up" and various hymns. Miss Adams could put Whitney Houston to shame and hold her own with Aretha Franklin.
After Miss Adams, Mr. McClurkin started his set with "That's What I Believe." One of his most impressive moments was when he sang in multiple foreign languages, including "As the Deer Pants" in Japanese, "Great Is Thy Faithfulness" in Dutch and "I Surrender All" in Spanish.
When Mr. Franklin started his solo portion of the show, there was as much energy in the concert hall as one finds at a football game. One understands why he is among the key figures responsible for popularizing gospel music in the 21st century. As he ran through the crowd and jumped across chairs, the entire audience was on its feet clapping. His set of songs included "The Storm Is Over Now," "Looking Out" and "Why We Sing."
The trio then collaborated on such songs as Mr. McClurkin's "We Fall Down" and "Stand" as well as Miss Adams' "The Battle Is the Lord's." Much of the time, Mr. Franklin served as the choir director with a groove.
Anyone with a sad melody in his heart would sing a new song after visiting Hopeville.
***1/2
WHAT
: Hopeville Tour with Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin
WHEN
: 8 p.m. tonight
WHERE
: DAR Constitution Hall, 18th and C streets NW
TICKETS
: $45
PHONE
: 202/432-SEAT
MAXIMUM RATING: FOUR STARS

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