The McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration® Gospel Tour has entered its 15th year and is the preeminent gospel celebration, and largest fundraiser for the Ronald McDonald House and United Negro College Fund.
McDonald’s bringing gospel to the community has roots in Southern California, as it began with a suggestion from Lindsay Hughes, who owns and operates two locations in South LA.
Hughes launched the Gospel Fest in Los Angeles shortly after.
“McDonald’s wanted to give back to the Black community, and I raised my hand and suggested taking our customers to church,” recalled Hughes. “That was in 1985 and here we are going into our 38th year.”
The Gospel Fest was only a local activation and was later replaced by the McDonald’s national Gospel activation that we celebrate today. Hughes now serves as an ambassador for this event and has led the annual Gospel Stage at Taste of Soul for the past few years (pre Covid).
Hughes, is from Watts, and vividly recalls working in McDonald’s while Ray Kroc was still involved in the company’s day-to-day operations.
“Mr. Kroc always wanted to us [franchise owners] to give back and I’ve been a part of the McDonald’s family for 52 years,” said Hughes.
“We’ve given kids their first jobs and now their grandkids work for me,” said Hughes. “We do a lot of good through McDonald’s where we learn accounting, logistics, marketing, and real estate.”
The McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration® Gospel Tour is an extension of McDonald’s commitment to their customers and have branded McDonald’s with gospel in the community.
“Gospel music is soul food for the soul: it stays with you and makes you feel good,” said Hughes.
“Our Gospelfest had the support of artists that learned their talents in church, which is the foundation of all genres of music,” explained Hughes. “Lou Rawls and Barry White were early supporters of the program.”
Hughes recalls selling out the venue the inaugural year, with the music fest initially being housed at the Wiltern Theatre before moving to the Shrine Auditorium.
“Because of the pandemic, this year’s program was held virtually, and I look forward to going back inside, once it’s safe to do so,” said Hughes. “Blacks spend a lot of money on McDonald’s products and using the tour to raise money helps put money back into the community.”
The Gospelfest has raised millions of dollars to assist families remain close to their children are ill, and put children through college with scholarships.