Urban Soul Café has is an event that attracts thousands of Gospel music enthusiasts at major cities across the country. Over the past few years during Stellar Awards weekend, USC has honored the likes of Hezekiah Walker, Byron Cage, Marvin Sapp, Dorinda Clark- Cole and many others. USC’s visionary, Carlos Hale, has turned a dream into a reality. What’s next for Urban Soul Café?
Urban Soul Cafe has become such a brand in the gospel community. How did USC come about?
In April of 2005 at John Henry’s on Jefferson St. in Nashville is where it all started. At the time we did not have the USC name but we were really trying to find our way. VaShawn Mitchell was one of our first guests for that show and it was not until the summer of 2006, right before I started hosting a morning radio show on XM Radio Nashville, that God gave me the name Urban Soul Cafe. I really wanted to be able to touch the lives of the people inside and outside the body of Christ and be used as a witnessing tool to assist in the expansion of the Kingdom through music, beyond the traditional four walls of the church.
You have given many opportunities to so many indie artists down through the years. Why do you have such a passion for indie artists?
I’ve always had a certain connection with indie artists because I can relate to the passion that drives them to want to be effective and successful. I have seen a lot of current artists in Gospel music get a fresh start with USC over the last eight years. With this platform, we see them grow and develop as an artist and build a lasting relationship between each other as well. There are a number of people that have been blessed with gifts and talents to sing and or play music, and seeing that God did not bless me with either gift, He granted me the ability to hear, see and feel the realness and the anointing that these artists possess. With my background in radio, I wasn’t always allowed to give airtime to those records that came to the station due to the “Powers that be,” so with creating Urban Soul Café it gives me a chance to showcase the new and upcoming talent.
At this year’s USC you are honoring Twinkie Clark, VaShawn Mitchell and Aaron Lindsey, and an array of gospel music’s best will pay homage to them through song. What is the process like putting a show of this magnitude together?
First and foremost I am extremely honored to have Twinkie, VaShawn, and Aaron this year because each one of them have produced, wrote, played, or sung on some of the biggest records in Gospel Music. I am a fan of each one of them and to know them personally and their dedication to this business plays a role in them being honored this year. Through much prayer, God revealed to me the different artists that would pay tribute to the honorees. Over the past few weeks I have been jumping around my house cause I know who is singing during the tributes and I can see the vision of it in my head. In the past, USC has honored some great people and it seems as if more people are drawn to the event each year, so I make sure that they know that everything we do is done with style, class, and in the spirit of excellence. The Music Director from Urban Soul Café and I have met a few times over the song selection to make sure that it’s comfortable with the band and meets the standard in which USC has set. Then in my private time I watch a few award show clips and see the diverse ways things are done and pick up on a few ideas. After everything is complete with the song selection and artist assignments, I pray that what God put in me will translate on that night.
What’s next for Carlos Hale and Urban Soul Cafe?
I love traveling to different markets to produce Urban Soul Café events. The greatest joy I get is seeing the smiles on people’s faces when they are having a great time. As for Carlos Hale, I will be more involved with the shift that is going on with Gospel Music. I will be doing more outreach ministry with Urban Soul Café. Reaching out to people is a passion of mine, and a lot of times I am sponsoring and participating in various community functions and projects. For instance, over the past seven years I have been a participant with the United Brotherhood Ministries in Nashville. During the fall of each year while students are preparing to return to school, we go to various housing areas and give out food, free haircuts, prayer and LIVE Christian entertainment. Over the years it has been a tremendous success and our numbers are upwards of 1,000 every time we have these events. In the future, I would like to get some of my “Famous Friends” and do more outreach like that and touch more lives.