Bill Bailey has been promoting gospel music for more than a quarter century.
Thanks to him, thousand of people from Manatee County and across the country as well as overseas will again pour into the Bradenton Area Convention Center next week to celebrate their Christian faith at the annual Winter Gospel Music Convention.
The event has been held at the Palmetto venue for the past eight years.
Returning favorites The Booth Brothers, Triumphant Quartet and The Collingsworth Family will be among the dozens of acts performing Monday through Saturday.
Each acts has one thing in common. The musicians play Southern gospel, a music that leans more to country than the pop and rock influenced style known as Contemporary Christian music or CCM.
"Southern gospel has a harmony base," Bailey said. "There is also a very strong lyrical message of faith and hope and Christ."
Bailey, a 43-year-old native of Albany, Ga., has lived in Manatee County for three decades, spending the majority of that time as the pastor at Happy Gospel Church in Bradenton.
"I have a church congregation that loves me as a pastor and for who I am," he said. "They don't see me as a national person, they see me as a guy who administers to them and that keeps me humble."
Bailey started booking shows at age 16. While his peers dreamed of being on stage, Bailey thought about what it took to make a concert happen. This passion led him to being named 2008 Promoter of the Year by the Southern Gospel Promoters Association during the National Quartet Convention in Louisville, Ky.
"It's personally gratifying but I love this music," Bailey said. "I grew up with it in South Georgia. I'm the biggest fan of Southern gospel music. I love the music more than I love the business of music."
Details: Doors open at 12:30 p.m. for the matinees (Feb. 5-9) and at 5:30 p.m. for the evening concerts (Feb. 4-9), Bradenton Area Convention Center, One Haben Blvd., Palmetto. Tickets: $17 per night or $90 for a six-night pass. Children ages 3-11 are $5 per night at the door only. VIP Reserved tickets are $125 each (includes a reserved seat for all evening and matinee concerts). Tickets are not required for the 1:30 p.m. matinee concerts. Information: 941-756-6942 or www.billbaileyconcerts.com
Wade Tatangelo, features writer/columnist, can be reached at 941-745-7057.