The One Love events began on Thursday and took place in the Atlantis Resort Convention Center. It is attached to the Coral Towers where most of the attendees stayed. The Royal Towers where Traci and I stayed was a little further away. From our room at the Royal Towers to the convention center, it was about a 10-minute indoor walk that led through the casino, the Crystal Court Shops, the lobby of the Coral Towers, and a corridor of restaurants. Because we did not like walking through the smoky casino, Traci and I usually walked outside to get to the convention center as long as one of the evening tropical thunderstorms was not rolling through. This outdoor detour took more time but we preferred the ocean air to the cigarette smoke.
Traci and I picked up our welcome bags on Thursday around 3 PM. They each contained sponsor giveaways, a schedule of One Love events, a t-shirt, and, most importantly, our access tags. One of the sponsors, Robin Anthony's Renu Herbs, gave out pedometers to see who could register the most steps by Sunday. As big as Atlantis is, I was confident Traci and I would be contenders for the prizes. During our time at the resort, Traci and I were getting between 12,000 and 21,000 steps per day. However, we were not even close to the top steppers. I met a lady on Saturday who was already over 80,000 steps. We had no chance of catching up by Sunday.
The Welcome Ceremony began at 4 PM and was outstanding. I am not sure how Radio One will ever top it. It was hosted by Yolanda Adams. Cathy Hughes, the founder of Radio One and TVOne among many other credits, kicked off the ceremony by welcoming everyone. Cathy Hughes is the visionary behind One Love Getaway and the past One Love cruises. We enjoyed musical performances by Isaac Carree and Kurt Carr & the Kurt Carr Singers. The program went to another level when we were all asked to stand as a uniformed trumpeter played a fanfare for the entrance of Perry Christie, the Prime Minister of the Bahamas. He was the keynote speaker for the kick-off. His speech was followed by the Minister of Tourism who wanted to give us a grand Bahamas welcome. From the back of the room we heard drumming, trumpets, and whistles. We turned to see a colorful Junkanoo band and dancers entering. They paraded around the room and led us out to the lobby. The One Love Getaway was off to a very festive start.
Yolanda Adams hosting
Kurt Carr & the Kurt Carr Singers
Junkanoo band and dancers welcomed us to the Bahamas
Junkanoo band and dancers
As the Junkanoo band finished up and the crowd began to disperse, I happened to see Fred Hammond sitting in the lobby. I have enjoyed his music for many years. The great thing about the One Love events is that I could just walk over to him and other artists and tell them how much I enjoy their music. I did just that to Fred Hammond and took a picture with him. We met several other artists at various places around the resort throughout our stay.
We were told there were approximately 2,200 attendees though it never seemed like that many. This was probably because the immense size of the convention center. The women vastly out-numbered the men. I did not see any children. One Love was not the only event happening in the convention center that weekend. There were corporate events happening in some of the other rooms/grand halls.
We eventually synced up with our friends Tracy and Bruce from New Jersey. We first met them at lunch on our first One Love cruise in 2006. We hung out with them on that cruise as well as on the One Love cruises we did in 2009 and 2011. We were happy to see them again. Throughout the weekend, we would occasionally dine together and go to seminars and concerts together.
Over the next three days, there was a full line-up of One Love activities starting at 7:30 AM and ending past midnight. There were health seminars, a bible study, a jazz show, a comedy show, a seminar and party for singles, a seminar for married people, evening concerts, and more. Traci and I did not attend every activity. Among the more memorable ones for me was the hilarious comedy show with Marcus D. Wiley, Bone Hampton, and the Church Boys.
We also attended Donnie McClurkin's radio show. He interviewed Fred Hammond's United Tenors, Mary Mary, and Pastor Charles Jenkins. Despite the one-hour time slot on the itinerary, the show ran almost 2 hours. It was entertaining though. Donnie McClurkin comes across as funny, personable, and candid. At the end of the show, he had a few free CDs to give away. Before making them available to everyone in the room who was waiting to bum-rush the table for the CDs (really!), he allowed two elderly women to pick the CDs they wanted. He then reached in his pocket and handed each of them $100. We happened to see Donnie McClurkin in the hallway after the show. We said hello and took a picture with him.
Tye Tribbett with his background singers
new artist Jonathon McReynolds
The most special activity for Traci and me took place a 7:30 AM Saturday. We were one of 50 couples who renewed their wedding vows outdoors at the picturesque Royal Deck. There was a little confusion leading up to this ceremony. Before the trip, all the couples received an email informing us we needed to wear white for the ceremony and attend a rehearsal the day before. When we arrived in the Bahamas, there was no mention of a rehearsal in the itinerary. Therefore, like most couples, we just showed up Saturday morning dressed in white. It turns out, there actually was a rehearsal the day before. Very few people attended. The few who did were told they should bring something to exchange with their spouse as a token of their love. We did not know about this either. No worries. These details were insignificant when it came to the actual ceremony. It was an emotional time for many. Pastor Gregg Patrick led the ceremony. Jackiem Joyner sang the "Lord's Prayer". We all did our first dance. Each couple received a certificate. Traci and I met some new friends. In fact, we all had breakfast together after the ceremony. It was a great morning.
Pastor Gregg Patrick
We were one 50 couples who renewed their vows that day.
Wedding Vow Renewal Ceremony
The evening concerts began at 6 PM. The first would occur from 6 to 8:30 PM. The main show would go from 9:30 PM to 12:30 AM. This was a long night of performances. Despite the great music and the cold auditorium, I sometimes found it difficult to stay awake the entire time. There was one evening that I left to go back to the room at 11 PM because I was too sleepy. Traci stayed for the entire show each night.
With the exception of the seats reserved for dignitaries, seating was on a first-come basis. We normally arrived about 30-minutes before show time and were able to get decent seats. These were great performances by just about every gospel artist who has ever won a Grammy Award, Stellar Award, Image Award, or any other award. The sound system in the auditorium was awesome. You could hear every instrument and vocal and even feel the bass. Yet the music was not so loud that I could not say something to someone two seats away without shouting. What pleased me the most was that almost every performer was backed by a live band. This was a big improvement from the early days of the One Love cruises where nearly all the artists performed to tracks.
I thoroughly enjoyed performances by Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, the Rance Allen Group, Tye Tribbett, and the Mighty Clouds of Joy (even though most of the members were not there because the missed their flights).
Comedian Marcus D. Wiley
Rance Allen Group
Oddly, my absolute favorite performance was one in which I knew none of the songs. Earnest Pugh of "Rain on Us" and "I Need Your Glory" fame was recording a live album. As audience members, we participated in this process by providing the applause and cheering tracks. All the engineers and musicians were true professionals. There were only a couple of do-overs. Earnest Pugh was fighting through some voice issues. When he felt he was not going to hit the notes, he would just leave them out with the intention of dubbing them in later. The music was funky! There were guest artists such as Rance Allen, Shirley Caesar, and LeJeune Thompson. Unfortunately, I missed at least 20 minutes of the performance when I walked back to the room to change into something more comfortable for the cold auditorium. I was really kicking myself when I returned and Traci told me I missed Rance Allen, one of my favorite gospel artists. Oh well, at least I caught his show the next evening. The background vocals for Earnest Pugh were provided by the group Kenosis. This was some of the best background vocals I have ever heard. I truly enjoyed the show that evening.
Here is a list of the artists and special guests at the One Love Getaway 2013...
There was a Sunday morning worship service at 8 AM with Bishop Neil Ellis. Micah Stampley and William McDowell performed. By 9:30 AM, One Love Getaway 2013 was over. Traci and I headed back to the room to change into our swimwear. We spent the rest of the day enjoying the resort.
Monday morning, Radio One coordinated the shuttle transfers to the airport. It was a smooth, uneventful flight back to D.C..
Many of the attendees had done at least one One Love Cruise. Since it was the first time Radio One held their event at a resort, it was only natural that people compared the cruise experience to the resort experience. Most of the people we met preferred the cruise. As for Traci and me, we actually preferred the resort. For me, I liked that almost every artist was backed by a live band. This was not the case on the One Love cruises we did in the past. Since the rooms and auditorium of the resort could accommodate more people, the scheduling of activities and concerts was more agreeable. There were not as many events happening simultaneously. I'm aware that the things I point out as pluses for the resort can also occur on the cruises with a few tweaks, but based on my experiences, the One Love Getaway was the best Radio One event I have attended so far. Main Page...