ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) — Gospel music is coming to Rockford with the SOAR Radio Gospel Music Awards, to be held March 6th at the Coronado Performing Arts Center.

SOAR Awards CEO Justin Francis said the 6th annual SOAR ceremony exposes the community to the best in gospel music. This year’s event will be the second held at the historic Coronado theater.

Francis, a Rockford native, founded SOAR Radio, a streaming radio station in 2014.

“No matter what language, the music sounds the same. We like the showcase, that we may sing it with a little more soul, but it is truly for everyone,” he said. “It’s just music about love, music about encouragement, but we welcome anybody, from all walks of life.”

Francis has been active in the gospel music arena since he was 13 years old, and has written songs for artists such as Virtue, Darwin Hobbs, Amber Bullock, Damita Haddon, Lowell Pye, and others.

John Groh, president of the Rockford Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, said he is glad the ceremony has returned to Rockford, saying it brings new visitors to the area and strengthens the local economy, bringing in an estimated $215,000.

“Luminaries coming to our community, being on the stage, I think they are going to look out and be in awe of this theater and, by extension, this community,” Groh said.

Francis said the awards show creates a platform to celebrate some of gospel music’s biggest names and showcase upcoming artists.

The program will be recorded for a later broadcast and will be hosted by award-winning musicians Todd Dulaney and Isabel Davis.

The awards show will honor 15-time GRAMMY nominee Donald Lawrence, and singers Kierra Sheard Kelly and Jekalyn Carr, and will feature performances by The Clark Sisters, KeKe Wyatt, Leandria Johnson, and more.

The SOAR Awards will be held Monday, March 6th at 7 p.m. Tickets are available on