Published September 2019, hourdetroit.com.
By Emma Klug
After days of speculation and a false start earlier this morning, the wishes of thousands of Kanye West fans vying to attend the rapper’s rumored Sunday Service performance in Detroit are coming true. Tickets for the Sept. 27 free show at Aretha Franklin Amphitheatre went live on Ticketmaster at noon. And they sold out in nearly 10 minutes.
The news of West holding his Sunday Service — a musical gathering featuring a West-led choir singing traditional Christian church songs as well as gospel renditions of the rapper’s own music and other covers — began circulating when a flyer calling for Detroit area singers hit the internet during the late evening of Sept. 23. The graphic, created by Atlanta-based creative firm JP Designs Art, prompted those interested in participating in the choir to visit Ticketlocity. On the registration page, singers, who would be required to attend at least two rehearsals prior to the performance, could sign up to receive a participation ticket as either a soprano, alto, or tenor. By the morning of Sept. 28, choir tickets were sold out.
The popularity of the Detroit Sunday Service is expected. West first kicked off Sunday Service in his home of Calabasas, California as an invite-only event that attracted the likes of Orlando Bloom, Katy Perry, and, of course, the Kardashian-Jenner family. After gaining traction through word of mouth, social media postings (including Instagram videos of Wests’ oldest daughter, North, dancing at the Sunday Services), and an appearance on Keeping Up With the Kardashian’s, West took the gospel concept to Coachella music festival in April where he performed in front of more than 5,000 people. Most recently, surprise Sunday Service shows have popped up in West’s hometown of Chicago as well as Cody, Wyoming, featuring guest performers like Chance the Rapper and 2 Chains, respectively.
The shows are typically held on Sunday, which makes the Detroit-based performance’s Friday date puzzling to some. However, it may be a sign that the upcoming show is intended as more than a chance for West to share gospel songs with locals. Sept. 27 is the anticipated release date of West’s new church-influenced album, Jesus Is King. While outlets, such as Rolling Stone, Billboard, and Entertainment Weekly, are now reporting that the album won’t debut until a later date, a social media post by West’s wife, Kim Kardashian West, has onlookers thinking otherwise. On Sept., 25, she retweeted a tweet by the user @colinags that read “2 more days Jesus is King” above a photo of the couple’s son Saint holding up the peace sign.
West devotees are quick to point out that around this time last year, Kardashian West also endorsed the expected release date of a West album named Yandhi with a tweet. But the album would go on to delay its debut before being scrapped altogether. Seemingly, Detroiters participating in and attending tomorrow’s Sunday Service may be the first to break the news on whether or not Sept. 27 is the release date for Jesus is King.
If the album is to debut during the Detroit performance, it seems fitting for West, who has shown great interest in the city and its people. Notably, West helped Big Sean make his big break when he signed the Detroit rapper to his record label, Good Music, in 2007. Then, in 2016, he chose the Detroit area as one of 21 locations for a temporary pop up for his The Life of Pablo album merch. And, last October, the rapper visited the city to meet with Dan Gilbert, who took him to the offices of StockX and Bedrock Detroit. He also surprised a room full of College for Creative Studies students on that same visit when he showed up during a class and stood on the table to lecture about creativity and Elon Musk. West’s affinity for Detroit is evident, and, as the quick sellout of his Sunday Service performance shows, so is locals’ devotion to him.