Musical SEMO Family to perform at Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC

From left to right; Dewayne Williams, Annie Williams, Latoya Williams, and Pastor Leroy Williams of the Williams Family, promotional photo for the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC.

Musical SEMO Family to perform at Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington DC

For immediate release:

The Williams Family, pastors and worship leaders at Emmanuel House of Praise Church in Poplar Bluff, are set to perform at the 57th annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall in Washington DC, July 6 through July 9th, 2023. This year marks the first time the Ozarks region has been featured at the festival, and curators discovered the family and it’s unique Gospel music through the internet. This year’s program is called, The Ozarks: Faces and Facets of a Region, and will explore Ozarks identity and culture, and present it on a national stage. The group consists of Pastor Leroy Williams (father), Annie Williams (mother), Dewayne Williams (son) and Latoya Williams (daughter). The family’s musical history and each member’s personal musical journey has been deeply influenced by life in the Ozarks region, and musical education through Ozarks institutions such as Three Rivers College Jazz Band, Swingsations, and Poplar Bluff’s Sho-Me Band. The family has a combined 21 commercially distributed musical singles, including What About You, by Pastor Leroy/Dewayne Williams, and Don’t Look Back, by Latoya Williams, as well as a recently released book, Honoring Heroes by Annie Williams, which was edited by Latoya and Dewayne.

The family will perform a daily set throughout the festival’s second week, but were also chosen to perform Thursday July 6th , 6:00 p.m. as part of The Ozarks Opry, on the Ralph Rinzler Stage at the National Mall, curated by Missouri State University.

While the Smithsonian will shine a national spotlight on Ozarks music, dance, food, and other crafts, the family was first introduced to the national stage through the Build a Bridge concert hosted by Southern Gospel icon Bill Gaither and Bishop TD Jakes at the Potter’s House Church in Dallas Texas in 2003. Pastor Leroy Williams sees many parallels between the two engagements. “Bill Gaither and Bishop Jakes were highlighting the beauty to be found in our individual cultural expressions, and they invited us to be a part of it” he said. “The Smithsonian is doing the same, showing the world what is beautiful about who we are and where we are from”.

For more information about the Smithsonian Folklife Festival visit:

To learn more about the Williams Family, their music, and their ministry in Poplar Bluff, visit: