Tolbert Graces Stage at Spring Forward Concert

By Journalist Ms. Jones

NEWBURGH – On Saturday, May 14th the Spring Forward Concert was held at Holy Temple Church. Bernard & Friends, The Amazing Grace Worship Team, The One Accord Praise Team, and Josiah Borden led the audience in praise and worship. The Royal Praise Dancers danced.

National Gospel recording artist Rich Tolbert headlined the event.

The concert was given by Jaquan Boykin and Jay Ortiz. It’s the First Spring Forward Concert, but it won’t be the last.

Pastor Mykael McKesey emceed the Spring Forward Concert.
Pastor Mykael McKesey emceed the Spring Forward Concert.

“[I plan] to make Newburgh better the best way I can. I’m from Newburgh and this is my hometown and it’s always about bad things. So, I’m trying to bring new, good things to Newburgh and bring souls to Christ,” said Boykin who is already thinking about who they will bring next. “I’m thinking about Donnie McClurkin.… Kierra Sheard… Vincent Bohanan.”

22-year-old Jay Ortiz helped produce the concert. He owns JS Seafood Kitchen which is located in the Crystal Run Galleria in Middletown.

“[Jaquan] had an idea and he brought it to my attention and we just kind of merged together to make this happen for [the] City of Newburgh… I know there’s a need here,” said Ortiz who is from Middletown. “We’re gonna do different areas. We decided to start here because he has a lot of support here and then we’re gonna keep moving… Middletown and then the Bronx… all different places.”

Pastor Mykael McKesey emceed the Spring Forward Concert. He is the pastor of Home Church in Harlem.

“It was a good time. It was really good time. I love Newburgh… I think it was a great turnout. It was great music. Great artists,” said McKesey who is also a singer/songwriter who was born in Westchester but grew up in Newburgh. “I have two singles that are available currently called ‘The City’ and ‘Still God.’ They’re available on various digital platforms ‘Still God’ was a song that I wrote during the pandemic. We were faced with challenges that we were all unfamiliar with and the song is just to remind us that God is still God and even though we’re in an uncertain time… God is still God… ‘The City’ is about… Jesus being amongst us and healing us of all… that we go through.”

Amazing Grace Worship Team sings at the Spring Forward Concert.
Amazing Grace Worship Team sings at the Spring Forward Concert.

Boykin and Ortiz chose Rich Tolbert to headline the event because he is a spiritual person.
“He is a young man, and his songs really speak to the heart and speak to your soul. So, he was the best one…I felt in our minds to [bring],” said Boykin.

Tolbert is being considered for a Grammy for Best Gospel Album for “Never Be Defeated.” “Never Be Defeated” was #1 on the Billboard Gospel Digital Songs Chart. Tolbert grew up singing at church and has been performing consistently since age ten. He truly has a heart for the youth. Not only did he sing, but he prayed over several young people who performed. One young man asked to be a feature on one of his songs and was given a chance to rap.

“The Spirit of the Lord was saying when you came up here, there was a sense of nervousness… but there’s a sense of boldness that screamed out more… You looked back and said, ‘I gotta write it… I just can’t do it.’ The Lord says as long as you’re willing to be willing, He’ll give you the words,” said Tolbert to the young rapper. Tolbert is also a pastor and was discovered himself by JJ Hairston who signed him to his label James Town Music in 2020.

Journalist Ms. Jones

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