Emmit Powell, one of America’s leading gospel radio and television broadcasters, formed the Gospel Elites in 1977. Emmitt set out to provide regular back-up vocal talent for special guests on his television shows and to create opportunities for new gospel talent. The group’s sudden success soon put them in the public eye. Today, they are considered to present the finest in blues-based inspirational gospel music in Northern California.
The Gospel Elites have recorded extensively. Their first nationally released album was “Jesus Above All Others” in 1980 on Savoy Records. Since then, they have released a continuos succession of well received albums. The following were nominated for Grammy’s: “Stay With The Lord” (1982 – Birthright Records) earned the group a 1982 Grammy nomination for “Gospel Group of the Year”,”Don’t Look Back” (1991 – Gospel Train Records) – this album was nominated for a 1991 Grammy Award as “Gospel Album of the Year”,” Taking Gospel Music Higher” (1994 – Elite Royal Records) – was nominated for a 1994 Grammy Award as “Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album of the Year.”
Emmit Powell’s philosophy is to take gospel music out of the church and into the community for all people to hear. “My purpose has always been to bring this beautifully performed music out from the churches and into the lives of all types of people, not just to uplift spiritually, but also to entertain and inspire.” That is exactly what The Gospel Elites do best! Traveling throughout the United States and internationally since 1989, including extensive European touring, the Gospel Elites have gathered people together wherever they perform and have increased their already tremendous following.
Many of the groups highlights over the years include; sharing the stage with Joan Baez at her 1987 Christmas Concert in San Francisco, performing at the Sydney Opera House in Australia, The Gewandehaus in Leipzig, The Hercules Saal in Munich, The Pori Jazz Festival in Finland, The Hartwal arena in Helsinki, The Banlieue Blues Festival in Paris, The Carlo Felice Theater in Genoa, The Mystic Festival in Istanbul, The San Francisco Blues Festival and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
Billboard Magazine praised the Gospel Elites New Orleans performance, stating, “The Emmit Powell Gospel Elites tore the roof off the tent with their half hour set‚ perpetuated by hand-claps, tambourines and call and answer-gymnastics, the performance was spine-chilling in its intensity”.