Rev. James Cleveland developed and built the Gospel Music Workshop of America, Inc. where the perpetuation and promotion of gospel music has been and remains a primary purpose of the organization.
in March of 1967, called together friends from across the US in an effort to brainstorm his idea of producing a venue for gospel music presentations. The selection of people he called together was chosen due to individual contributions in gospel music. This association formed the Gospel Music Workshop of America with a national convention motto of “Where Everybody is Somebody.”
Rev. Cleveland stated, “There are young folk that have talent but have no where to get instructions as to how to put that talent to work. And so I thought how could we help upgrade the music in the church and bring sometime of education to the youth since there is no formal education in schools where they can get the training…so I had the bright idea to get all the best exponents of gospel from all over the world together, asked them what they thought about the idea of coming together forming a workshop to try to teach the young folk whatever they wanted to know about gospel.”
The Gospel Music Workshop of America is a Christian organization convening annually, where national performers, recording artists, new and inspiring songwriters, educators, liturgical dancers, the young and old, pastors, and others minister to each other and to the needs and directions within the African American religious experience. It has opened it’s doors to welcome and receive people of different colors, influences and cultures.
The object of the association was to perpetuate, promote and advance the Christian ideal through the medium of music by joining together gospel choirs, choruses , singers songwriters throughout the US in a voluntary association for education, cooperation, promotion and the communication of ideas and ideals. The Gospel Music Workshop of America was incorporated in Detroit, Michigan.
People are attracted to the Workshop because of its unique and structured program format. It’s made up of divisions and auxiliaries, with each having separate and distinct functions.
Ask anyone involved in gospel music where they are heading for the summer and you are bound to hear for their response – the Gospel Music Workshop of America. The convention remains one of the most popular destinations in the year for gospel music lovers. Thousands of individuals, both registered delegates and newcomers, head to the annual meetings to get a taste of gospel’s finest and this rich tradition continues to foster the many generations of gospel music with powerful ministry, excellent training, industry networking and hours of great singing. And since the unfortunate passing of its founder, Rev. James Cleveland, in 1991, the forty-five old organization still marches on as one of America’s treasured music institutions. To this day, it is the largest artistic organization of its kind in the world with 75,000 members in more than 185 chapters stretching from the United States to Asia. The Gospel Music Workshop of America, also called GMWA for short, has a beautiful history that finds some of gospel’s greatest paying their dues to eventually become legends in the evolving forms of traditional and contemporary gospel.