High Hopes For Praise Fest

Having organized mostly secular concerts during his career, promoter Donnie Frizzell has created Praise Fest, a contemporary Christian music festival he hopes will turn into a worldwide touring event within the next two years.

Praise Fest will debut at Oklahoma City’s SMG-managed Ford Center July 21-22. It will feature headliners Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith along with performances from Jars Of Clay, Third Day, Element, Hyper Static Union, Stellar Kart and more.

“The whole intent of Praise Fest is that we want to make it a contemporary Christian music festival that basically aligns between adult contemporary and contemporary Christian,” Frizzell told Pollstar. “They’re crossing borders more and more every year.”

Frizzell, who serves as president/CEO of Frizzell Management & Promotion International, plans to bring the fest back to the Ford Center and two other major venues on the east and west coasts next year.

“My idea of this is that it can be a tour,” he explained. “Let’s go ahead and take the top combination of Christian artists in America, and let’s make tours out of them instead of just going into the churches.

“You might not sell beer all day long, but you’re going to sell a lot of Coca-Cola and do a lot of good for everything else.”

The promoter is currently working with Ford Center GM Gary Desjardins to potentially expand Praise Fest to other SMG-managed venues next year.

“Right now, the relationship with SMG is a very strong and heartfelt relationship,” Frizzell said. “SMG has opened up to explore the options of, ‘Yes, let’s take this to other SMG-related properties.'”

Desjardins said he is excited about the idea of Praise Fest becoming an annual event at the 20,817-seat Ford Center.

“There’s some big ideas on where it might be able to go,” the GM told Pollstar. “You kind of get goose bumps when you think if how big it can potentially be.”

But it won’t stop there. By 2008, with the help of Disney, Frizzell hopes to take Praise Fest to countries like Australia, England and Japan.

“We’ve got a really good vision and task here, and we feel this is something we can brand,” he said. “It can be a product development brand that we can take to this country and internationally.”

– Mitchell Peters