20 Years Later: Meet the Woman Behind the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration
The first time I met Melanie Few-Harrison was in the airport terminal where we were both taking a vacation to Ocho Rios, Jamaica. As we chatted while waiting on our flight, her bubbly spirit lit the entire airport terminal. I never thought that a chance meeting in airport passing time would result in a 22-year friendship and admiration for this phenomenal visionary who, for two decades, has infused a gospel celebration into the Super Bowl.
The Super Bowl Gospel Celebration features live performances from gospel artists and mainstream acts. Coined as “the only NFL-sanctioned gospel music extravaganza,” the list of performers include Kirk Franklin, LeCrae, Koryn Hawthorne, Tasha Cobbs Leonard, The Winans, and even the NFL’s Players Choir. Comedian and radio personality Rickey Smiley is hosted this year’s event affair at Atlanta Symphony Hall.
The event was born because Melanie had a vision after attending the Super Bowl XXVI in Minneapolis in 1992. She realized that none of the activities included any faith-based entertainment. She spent the next 7 years pitching the NFL to produce such an event. Her efforts paid off in 1999 when she created and produced the first Super Bowl gospel event. The inclusion of the faith-based show was so successful that the NFL asked her to also produce gospel acts that perform around the football arena on game day and during the halftime show.
Melanie, who is from Atlanta, said that being able to celebrate this 20th year milestone in her hometown was “incredible.” Despite her notoriety, she says her family and close circle of friends are an important part of her life and her biggest fans.
“My prayer and my hope is that it will culminate in a celebration that brings together NFL player testimonials, their talents and mainstream and gospel performers together for a blended celebration,” Melanie said during a press conference at Atlanta City Hall. “This year, I want people on their feet. I don’t care if they bring tambourines into the building.”
Since its official inception, Melanie hasn’t relented, going hard every day as if it was that first production in 1999. She hasn’t let her success define her and she treats everyone with respect from the cleaning staff to the wealthiest celebrity.
Watch or attend a Super Bowl Gospel Celebration and you will gain insight into what makes this consistently sold-out event so special. The gospel celebration is more than her vision, it is how she lives her life.