The faith community will salute the long broadcasting ministry of the Rev. Gilbert “Gil” Fears with a tribute musical.
The event is set for Friday, May 4, at 7 p.m., at Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church, 5300 South Denker Ave., in Los Angeles. The Rev. DeNon A. Porter is the host pastor.
Fears hosts “Edna Tatum’s Gospel Classics,” that airs on Sundays, 6 a.m. to 8 a.m., on KPFK 90.7 FM. The salute will feature the Greater Ebenezer Baptist Church Choirs, the Los Angeles Chapter – GMWA, the Los Angeles Contemporary Adults, Kenneth Glover, Henry Jackson, Lady Rose Neal and Maran Elizabeth Pittman.
Looking back over his 20+ years of broadcasting gospel music, Fears said his brother, the late Rev. B.J. Fears, launched his career in that arena.
“B.J. asked radio announcer Nawania Lyles to let me sit in with her and she gave me the first opportunity to do gospel music on station KLIA,” he said.
In 2001, the legendary announcer Edna Tatum invited him to substitute for her at KPFK-FM and he became one of her fill-ins.
“When Edna was out-of-town, she’d call and ask if I’d sit in for her. I wasn’t the only one, but I was the most regular. Paul Kidd Jr. also sat in for her,” explained Fears. “In gospel, we don’t call ourselves deejays. We call ourselves radio angels.”
Tatum became ill in 2014 and Fears anchored her show. He stayed on following her passing later that year and continues to share gospel music every week.
Surprisingly, gospel was not Fears first broadcasting gig. He actually began with secular music including country and western, jazz, gospel and contemporary music.
“Moving to California from Texas, I was in the nightclub scene. I used to work at Maverick’s Flat, Pabst’s Brewery in Marina del Rey, the Speakeasy in Hollywood and went overseas to Singapore to work as a disc jockey in an international hotel chain,” he adding that in Texas, he worked as the news, sports and weather director at a local radio station.
“The Lord recued me from that club life and I haven’t had the desire to go back to it. Gospel is my ministry now and I appreciate God for that,” said Fears, who also serves as an associate minister at Greater Ebenezer.
Expressing his joy of hosting Edna Tatum’s Gospel Classics, Fears said he really appreciates how the music helps other people.
“One listener said, ‘I was down and out and disappointed and about to lose my mind. I turned on the radio and you were a great inspiration since that day.’ That really moved me.”
As for the upcoming tribute musical, Fears humbly noted, “To think that anybody would take the time out to come and appreciate or celebrate me just blows my mind. I never had anything like this happen to me. Other than being saved, married to my lovely wife, my children being born and serving as a commissioner in my hometown in Texas, this is the happiest moment in my life.”
The tribute is free and sponsored in part by the House of Winston Funeral Services, Inc., where the Rev. Shane B. Scott serves as president. To learn more call Quaford Coleman at (323) 846-1950.