For more than five decades, the Gospel Troops of Belleville have been touring the state singing and playing through an extensive catalog of infectious soul-stirring gospel music much to the delight of enthusiasts from various walks of life. While the band’s lineup has shifted somewhat over the course of several years, the music and the inspirational messages contained therein are very much intact.
The Gospel Troops will take center stage at the historic King Opera House, located at 427 Main St., in downtown Van Buren for a concert on Saturday, June 14, beginning at 6 p.m.
Tickets are available in advance for $10 or $12 at the door on the evening of the show by calling either (479) 629-4975 or (479) 783-0606.
The group was organized in the summer of 1958 by the late Tim Callans and the late Rev. Jeremiah Thompson. In addition to Callans and Thompson, the membership also consisted of the late Joe Thompson, Edward Thompson and Charles Webster. Webster, the sole original remaining member of the band can still vaguely recall the group’s humble beginnings.
"A friend (Callans) moved to the area from Texas," Webster said. "He loved quartet singing, so he just decided to form a group."
During the concert, special recognition will be given to the annual Juneteenth holiday, which is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States. Arkansas was the 19th state to recognize Juneteenth as a state holiday in 2005.
Throughout its storied career, The Gospel Troops of Belleville have recorded three best-selling albums including God Loves His Children which debuted in 1991. The follow up, He’s Coming Back Again, was released in 1995, and the group’s last recording, You Can’t Make It Alone arrived in May 2006.
The concert is sponsored by Mount Zion CME Church in Fort Smith and Northwest Arkansas Events Unlimited.
Doors will open at 5 p.m.