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By Stephanie Kaye
The Kennedy Center begins a week-long tribute to gospel music tonight. D.C. Rev. Nolan Williams Jr. helped organize the event, and says the spirit behind gospel reaches beyond the Christian tradition.
"There was a rabbi that once likened the whole notion of singing to praying," he says. "To sing, to open your voice, is a form of expression, outreach and uplift."
Williams says he hopes people will come to see gospel music, not just as a form that is exuberant in terms of its joy and enthusiasm, but for its deeper ties to American History, quoting gospel music writer Thomas Dorsey:
"Basically saying, 'I wonder what I've done that makes this race so hard to run,'" he says. "'But then I say to my soul, the Lord will make a way somehow.'"
The series "Joyful Sounds: Gospel Across America" begins at the Kennedy Center tonight and runs through next Saturday.