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At Praise Fest in Latest Orleans, Spreading the Gospel Through Song and Community

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The sky was black by the point Zacardi Cortez, 37, the festival’s closing act, took center stage. Mr. Cortez, whose 2012 album “The Introduction” placed No. 2 on the Billboard magazine top gospel albums chart, shone under the stage’s brilliant lights. One among the songs he performed, an original called “Praise You,” was a funk tune inspired by two of his idols, Prince and James Brown. His set took a activate “You’ve Been Good to Me,” a slow, tender tribute to his faith.

Mr. Cortez wrote the song not long after spending time in jail. “God just needed to take care of me. He had to sit down me down for just a little while and show me some things. And a whole lot of great things were birthed out of that,” Mr. Cortez said. “I’m so glad that I got to a spot where I’ll never must undergo those situations again, because God has modified some things, turned some things around.”

Bishop Warner, the organizer, watched from the side as Mr. Cortez closed the festival. Praise Fest had been a hit, he said, attracting about 2,000 people. The goal every 12 months is to bring Latest Orleans just a little hope, irrespective of how dire the circumstances. That’s the meaning of gospel music, and it’s a special ingredient that keeps spirits up.

“Let’s say in a pair years, we’re going to have one other event like this,” Bishop Warner said, referring to Katrina, which killed greater than 1,800 people. “Man, you bought to live life to the fullest, otherwise you’ll be caught on this, pondering you was going to attempt to get out, and also you die in the method.

“You bought to maintain moving.”

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