If you ask the music gurus, they will tell you gospel music is the top-selling genre in the country. Yet it was only recently that we heard of the Crown Gospel Awards.

A few years ago Cell C came up with an interesting concept, which culminated in a series of annual gospel festivals. Unfor- tunately, the plan went south and we never heard of the events.

So it comes as welcome relief to gospel music lovers to know that the Ukhozi FM Gospel Festival is starting tomorrow at Coca-Cola Park (Ellis Park).

Yes, you read right. The idea came from the collaboration between radio station Ukhozi FM, singer and businessman Sipho Makhabane’s Big Fish label and recording company EMI.

“With the decline of CD sales, it forced record companies to look for alternative means of making money, which include bookings and live shows,” said EMI and CCP Music’s Pino Di Benedetto.

He said that for EMI the solution was to come up with a division called EMI Live, which would organise live shows for the company’s artists.

“Through EMI Live we have already done successful projects with Zahara, Steve Hofmeyr and Rebecca Malope,” he said.

“About eight or so months ago we spoke to Sipho Makhabane who is a successful promoter about doing this show. Ukhozi FM came on board and branded the festival with their name,” he explained.

Acts to expect tomorrow will include Solly Mahlangu, Malope, Winnie Mashaba and Lundi, among others.

“I am so happy to be part of this amazing ensemble. It is not every day that you see gospel artists of this calibre meet at one stage,” Di Benedetto said.

Having won an SA Music Award this year and another at the African Gospel Awards, Mahlangu feels this upcoming festival is a platform for him to celebrate.

“I am giving all my thanks to God for all He has done for me this year,” he said.

With 33 albums under her belt, Malope’s dilemma is to determine which of her songs to perform in her one-hour slot.

“It is always very difficult for me to chose enough songs to fit into my performances,” she said.

“So for this upcoming show I have been consulting the fans on Facebook; they have responded positively. They have had interesting requests, so I will do between eight and 10 songs,” she said.

Mashaba also promises to come out with guns blazing during her performance.

“Since I am releasing an album in the next month or so, I have new material that I want my fans to hear at the festival,” she said.

The singer also expressed her gratitude for the concept of the idea behind this festival, saying it is time people realised the importance of gospel music.

• The gates to the venue will open at 8am and the performances will start at 10am. Tickets range in price from R80 to R130 and are available at Computicket.