2022 MLK Celebration Features The Walls Group

Friday, February 04, 2022

This year’s Martin Luther King celebration returns to Kenan Auditorium with a performance by The Walls Group, an award-winning, Grammy-nominated urban contemporary gospel quartet.

The MLK Gospel Concert, slated for Sunday, Feb. 13 at 3:30 p.m., is among a series of events hosted by the UNCW’s Upperman African American Cultural Center in observance of the MLK holiday and Black History Month. The event highlights the Upperman Center’s theme of “Sanctuary: The Sacredness of Black Time, Space, Place and People.”

“We honor King’s legacy as a Baptist preacher who had a lifelong love of gospel music via Mahalia Jackson,” said Sean Palmer, executive director of the Upperman African American Cultural Center. “We return to the arts to have a good ‘old-fashioned’ gospel concert with a contemporary twist.”

Known for their beautiful blended harmonies, the Houston-based quartet started in 2009 and is comprised of four siblings: Darrel, Rhea, Paco and Ahjah. In 2012, the group released “The Walls Group” with Wall2Wall Entertainment, and the album charted on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart. Their success caught the attention of Grammy-winning gospel singer and songwriter Kirk Franklin, who signed them to Fo Yo Soul Recordings.

In 2014, the group released “Fast Forward,” their first studio album. It charted on the Billboard 200 chart at No. 39 and the No. 1 spot on the Top Gospel Albums chart. The group was nominated for Best Gospel Performance/Song at the 57th annual Grammy Awards for “Love on the Radio.” The quartet was nominated at the 30th Stellar Awards in the following categories: Artist of the Year, Group/Duo of the Year, CD of the Year, the Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year, and Music Video of the Year. They took home the Group/Duo and Contemporary Group/Duo awards.

In 2019, the group’s third album, “The Other Side,” earned them a Grammy nomination for Best Gospel Album.

Palmer described the Walls Group’s music as “a soundtrack for this generation’s faith walk.”

“The group embodies the best of old school quartet harmonies, new school vocal technique, rooted in contemporary and traditional Black theology,” he said. “Audiences can expect to reflect on the musical tradition that serves as a cultural signifier and artifact of the Black Church – and who doesn’t need to be lifted through song into praise after all that we have been through in the last two years? The Walls Group will sing us into a place of inspiration and hope.”

The event is free to the public, but tickets are required. Tickets can be picked up at the Kenan Box Office Tuesday through Thursday, from noon to 4 p.m. or online at

--Venita Jenkins