Hundreds of people hungry for good food and music filled the pews of the Greater Bethel A.M.E. Church on Saturday afternoon for the second annual Gospel Brunch, organized by Overtown Music Project.
As Bishop Margaret Reynolds (who, by the way, is a former backup singer for KC and the Sunshine Band) welcomed everyone to the special music service, she outlined the history of the 116 year-old church and the neighborhood.
Founded by Henry Flagler, Overtown was designed to house the people of color who worked on the tycoon's railroad. The neighborhood later became a hotbed of music and culture, being called "Little Broadway" and the "Harlem of the South" because of its large number of theaters and nightclubs. Each night stars like Sammy Davis Jr; Nat King Cole, Ethel Waters, and Patti LaBelle would perform on the stages of Overtown where they were welcomed by audiences of all colors, unlike over the causeway, where black people weren't allowed entry into the restaurants and clubs of Miami Beach during segregation.
After the service, which included performances by church Gospel choir soloists, Bobby Stringer, and Speaking Hands, a choir of children who sing Gospel via American Sign Language, guests were invited to the church meeting room for a traditional southern brunch featuring Miss Vivian's sweet potato pie, red velvet waffles, and chicken and biscuits courtesy of Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.
Children from Speaking Hands choir signed a Gospel song.
Miss Vivian's famous sweet potato pie was a hit.
Chicken and biscuits, courtesy of Yardbird Southern Table & Bar.
Red Velvet waffles were custom made for each guest.
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Red velvet waffles were the undeniable star of the brunch.