HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (The Washington Post) — Gospel singer Richard Smallwood has just deplaned from the US Airways first-class cabin. He stops to take a few quick photographs with star-struck flight attendants and passengers, then hurries through the airport to a car and driver waiting to rush him off to prepare for the evening’s concert.
When Smallwood and his group, Vision, strutted onto the stage that night at Oakwood University in Huntsville, hundreds of fans, already out of their seats in anticipation, whip out their cellphones and begin video recording, as if choreographed. Tiny white lights shine from the floor like dancing fireflies. Fans are sitting on the floor and balcony, and standing along the walls and in the aisles.
During the 40-minute set, fans of the multi-Grammy-nominated writer, singer and pianist stand and sing along with every song, many with a hand raised in praise to God. Smallwood is center stage, in front of 11 of his singers in evening dresses and suits, revving the audience with mini-sermons before each number.
“He’s worthy of the glory, he’s worthy of the honor, every time I think of the goodness of Jesus and allllll he’s done for me,” Smallwood exclaims as the audience cheers. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” And with that, Smallwood’s group breaks into the up-tempo “Lift Him Up.”