Bishop Hezekiah Walker with McDonald's owners Patricia Williams (l) and Nicole Enearu. (photo by Jon Didier)
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
Bishop Hezekiah Walker doesn't just perform in concert, he has church filled with high praise, spirited worship and the presence of the Lord front and center. Such was the case when he headlined the McDonald's Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour on July 22 at West Angeles Church of God in Christ Cathedral.
The free event attracted thousands of people to enjoy an evening with the Grammy award-winning Bishop Walker and special guest Nikki Potts. Among those in attendance were COGIC Presiding Bishop and West Angeles Pastor Charles E. Blake Sr., and First Lady Mae Blake.
Gospel singer Potts opened the concert following an introduction by Kameron Greene, mistress of ceremonies and KJLH Radio personality. Potts regaled the audience with ‘Only You,' ‘Hallelujah,' and ‘If You Weren't There."
Next, Greene brought forth Bishop Walker and the crowd clapped, shouted and danced as he, along with his choir and band, sang many of his biggest hits including ‘Souled Out,' ‘I Need You to Survive,' ‘Clean Inside,' ‘Grateful,' and ‘God Favored Me.' He also delivered a medley of traditional songs such as ‘Praise Him,' ‘Everything Going to Be Alright,' and ‘Yes, Lord.'
Bishop Walker's appearance in Los Angeles is just one stop in the nine-city Gospel Tour, but considering his long relationship with the McDonald's Corporation, it is no surprise he agreed to participate.
"I been in involved with McDonald's since my very beginning back in New York and to be totally honest, that's how my career took off," he said.
"The local McDonald's had this Gospelfest and we didn't win 1st place, but we won 2nd place. The attention led to me appearing on ‘Good Morning New York' and ‘Good Morning America,' and it's been uphill every since," said Bishop Walker.
He also shared his admiration for McDonald's efforts to give back to the community as well as its Ronald McDonald House Charities that operates in 52 countries assisting children and their families in need.
"When I got the phone call to visit a Ronald McDonald House and see what they do for children, it really touched my heart. There are kids that are terminally ill or don't have adequate medical coverage and McDonald's adopts them and provides health care. It is such a great environment that helps others and that's what we're all about.
"Gospel music is all about helping. If we don't go into the community and do what we're called to do, are we really doing the Gospel? The scriptures tell us to go out into all the world and compel them to come. If we don't do that, then we're coming short of what God would have us to do," said Bishop Walker.
Patricia Williams, the owner of 11 McDonald's restaurants in greater Los Angeles, shared similar comments. "We, as owner-operators, are in the community so this concert is an opportunity for McDonald's to share something good with the community. Also, the majority of us are brought up in the church and we enjoy good music."
In business since 1984, Williams has restaurants in L.A., Carson, Lynwood, Los Angeles, and Gardena. She added, "Our store in Compton was built by The Bakewell Company, an African American firm headed by Danny Bakewell who also publishes The Los Angeles Sentinel."
Williams' daughter, Nicole Enearu, is following in her mother's footsteps. Enearu operates two McDonald's at Los Angeles International Airport and one in Compton.
Visit www.365black.com for more information about McDonald's activities in the African American community.