Interviews

Danny Gokey: A Career that God Built

By Bob Marovich Twenty-seven-year-old Sophia Martinez Gokey was a big fan of American Idol. She taped the program so her husband Danny Gokey, also an enthusiast of the singing competition, could watch it after he returned home from work. Sophia eventually encouraged Danny to audition for the show and, in his final year of age eligibility for the program, Danny decided to go for it. But on July 9, 2008, four weeks before the American Idol audition was to take place in Kansas City, Sophia passed away. “It was tragic. It was heartbreaking,” Danny told the Journal of Gospel Music. ...

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Gospel Industry Exec’s Book Aims to Help Gospel Artists Grow, Develop

By Bob Marovich While her friends were listening to the singing stars of the day, a young Tracy Williamson was just as interested in who was producing the music, and how they did it, as who sung it. She charted the careers of legendary producers like Quincy Jones, Berry Gordy, Sean “P Diddy” Combs, and—closer to her Chicago home—Chicago Mass Choir producer and vocalist Percy Gray Jr. and her mother, Chicago Mass president Dr. Feranda Williamson. Her music business education continued while serving as A&R and label director at Tyscot Records, where she gained additional wisdom and inspiration from label ...

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Calvin Simon: From Gospel to Funk and Back Again

By Bob Marovich Few gospel artists can claim to be in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Only one, to my knowledge, can also boast that a major prop from his former band is now on display in the Smithsonian. Calvin Simon can lay claim to both. As a founding member of the popular funk group Parliament Funkadelic, Simon is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee. The P Funk Mothership, an iconic stage prop, is part of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. Although Simon has laid those days to the ...

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Christon Gray Wants to Clear the Air with “Interim” Album

By Bob Marovich After the release of his Billboard-charting School of Roses in 2014, Christon Gray had no idea what was coming. “I didn’t know that I would be going through a separation and then a divorce,” Gray told the Journal of Gospel Music. “I didn’t know that I would be moving. I didn’t know that I’d be in a new relationship. I didn’t know that I’d be leaving a record label. All of that happened and more.” On his latest release, Clear the Heir (Fo Yo Soul Recordings / RCA Inspiration), Gray uses lyric poetry and music to describe ...

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New Evelyn Turrentine-Agee Single Declares “God Gave His Best”

By Bob Marovich Written and produced by her son, Curtis Turrentine Jr., Evelyn Turrentine-Agee’s “God Gave His Best” will be released Friday, October 5. It’s the latest single from the Queen of Quartet, whose gospel music career spans several decades. Evelyn told the Journal of Gospel Music that her singing ministry began at the tender age of two. “At two years old, I was singing so much that my dad would take me to church. He’d hold me up in his arms and say, ‘Sing baby!’ My favorite song to sing was ‘Thank You, Jesus.’ People would just shout! At first I thought, ‘What’s the matter with ...

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New Devin Williams CD Comes with Strings Attached…A Whole Quartet, In Fact

By Bob Marovich With seven of his singles, including the latest, “Like a Fire,” becoming Top 30 Christian Rock charting songs, Devin Williams has done what, to my knowledge, no Christian rocker has done to date: set his searing singles to the soothing sounds of a string quartet. Released August 31, Devin Williams with String Quartet was produced by Grammy Award-winning engineer Brad Blackwood, (Maroon 5, Korn, Skillet, Sara Bareilles, Alison Krauss). What has been the initial reaction of Williams’ fan base to the new project? “It’s still early, but the fans are digging it,” Williams told the Journal of Gospel Music. ...

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Jonathan Nelson Wants Listeners to be “Inspired, Encouraged, and Empowered” by New Album

By Bob Marovich In 1776, the Declaration of Independence freed American people from the oppression of the Royal Crown. In 2018, Jonathan Nelson’s seventh studio album, Declarations, is intended to free all people for salvation under the Holy Crown. The Stellar Award-winning singer and songwriter releases Declarations (Entertainment One) nationwide and through digital outlets today, Friday, September 14. “I want the album to leave listeners inspired, encouraged, and empowered,” Nelson told the Journal of Gospel Music. “If they sing these songs of themselves, they can see the results of what they say. If they say ‘I’m healed,’ they can be free ...

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Jerrell Golden: J Rocks the Mic…for Jesus

By Bob Marovich Anyone who witnessed Tappahannock, Virginia, rapper J Rock during freestyle battles heard a young, hungry, and confident artist who didn’t just want to emulate Jay-Z: he wanted to be better than Jay-Z. But behind the scenes, the story looked different. “I was hooked on drugs and did a lot of bad stuff,” Christian hip hop artist Jerrell Golden told the Journal of Gospel Music. “Me and my mom, we weren’t seeing eye to eye, so she kicked me out,” he said. “And honestly, I deserved it. I went through a spell of being homeless, going from friend ...

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Hip Hop Artist Steven Malcolm Turns Earthly Loss into Heavenly Gain

By Bob Marovich Once upon a time in Grand Rapids, Michigan, life was looking pretty good for Steven Malcolm. He and his family lived in a middle-class home. Their father, Winston, a Jamaican by birth, had a decent job at General Motors. Then when Steven was about ten years old, Winston was arrested. He had been caught selling drugs. Since Winston was not a U.S. citizen, officials deported him to Jamaica. That was the last time Steven ever saw his father. “He was a great guy, a great dad, but he decided to sell drugs,” Steven told the Journal of Gospel ...

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Jabari Johnson: “A Raphael Saddiq Who Sings Gospel”

By Bob Marovich It’s not unusual to hear how a gospel song touched someone’s life. Every now and then, you even hear about how a gospel song saved someone’s life. But what about when a song saves the life of its own creator? That is the story behind “Have Your Way,” the new single from singer, songwriter, and musician Jabari Johnson. “Two years ago, I was getting ready to commit suicide,” Jabari said. “But God gave me the lyrics [to ‘Have Your Way’]. I sang the song at an event in Houston that night, and my breakthrough happened. Ever since ...

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