TobyMac, Skillet and For King and Country to headline Christian music lineupBy ROB LEVEY
Special to the Union Leader August 01. 2018 12:56PM
If you go...WHAT: SoulFest
WHERE: Gunstock Mountain Resort, Gilford
WHEN: Thursday through Saturday
TICKETS: Individual and multi-day passes
INFO: the soulfest.com
With an expected 10,000 attendees and more than 80 artists and speakers featured, SoulFest is more than a Christian music festival; it is an experience the event’s founder Dan Russell believes serves a much deeper purpose.
“SoulFest is designed to activate the love people can have for themselves to then go out and participate in their communities,” he said. “It is a faith-based, social justice music event.”
One that will bring scores of musicians to stage today through Saturday at Gunstock Mountain Resort, including the Grammy Award-winning headliners TobyMac and For King and Country and the twice-nominated Skillet. The long list of performers also includes Colton Dixon, Seventh Day Slumber, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, Red Letter Hymnal, Crowder, DJ Maj, The Violet Burning, Remedy Drive, and Russell himself.
The multiday festival is best described by what Russell has dubbed “The True Love Pledge.” It’s a response to how people are held back from loving themselves and consequently becoming involved in their communities, he said.
“Many religions encourage fear in people,” Russell said. “There are a lot of themes and messaging that goes on in society today that also has people fearful. The objective of SoulFest is to address that fear and help people break free of that.”
So the focus at SoulFest is as much on music as fellowship in the form of workshops, prayer circles, seminars and worship.
But the concert lineup is a huge draw, and in addition to some of the nation’s top performing Christian performers, several stages will feature lesser known musicians in genres one might not generally expect.
“We have singer-song writers, hip-hop, rock ‘n’ roll, and pop — all musical styles are found at SoulFest,” said Russell. “You won’t find just one style of music here.”
The views at Gunstock inspire a sense of peace as well with views overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee and the surrounding mountains.
“You can take the chair lift up to the Mountain Top Stage and feel inspired by the natural beauty around you,” he said. “You can see lakes and mountains. It is an absolutely beautiful setting.”
Plus there will be access to a zip line, mountain coaster, rock climbing, vendors and all kinds of food.
“It’s a three-day experience like no other,” he said. “You can camp here, too.”
The hope is that people who don’t consider themselves formally religious will be feel comfortable attending.
“When we talk about transformation, it is not about what results from a weekend warrior experience,” he said. “This transformation comes from unconditional love. There is mystery in God’s love, and I’m not talking about what we often superimpose onto the divine. This is not a specific god from a specific religion.
“As tough as life may be, love prevails, and that messaging is not exclusive,” he said. “This love is anti-suicide, hate and bigotry. The subtheme of SoulFest is that we encourage everyone to live and love from the inside out … We believe God’s love is for everyone and folks from all walks of life. We are not looking for people to join our club. All are welcome.”