Interviews

Damon Williams: “If the Chart Could Become a CD, It Would Be WOW Gospel.”

By Bob Marovich In 1998, Damon Williams eagerly purchased a copy of the first-ever WOW Gospel two-CD compilation. “It was a big moment in gospel music,” Williams, who was recently named Vice President of Marketing for RCA Inspiration, shared with the Journal of Gospel Music. “To find something that had the year’s best gospel songs all in one place, by the top artists, was extremely appealing to me as a consumer and a burgeoning industry executive.” On the 20th anniversary of the best-selling franchise, the 2-CD WOW Gospel 2018 hits stores today. While it will be Williams’ first time working ...

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Darnell Davis: “I Have A Second Chance, A Second Wind”

By Bob Marovich From the outside, it appeared as if Darnell Davis was on top of the world. He and his gospel group, Remnant, had signed with a major label, RCA Inspiration. They earned Dove Award and Stellar Award nominations for their 2014 release, Moving Forward. The CD cover photo depicted a smiling, confident Davis, mid-stride into a promising future. But in the midst of this, Davis was going through a divorce. It felt “like a physical death,” he told JGM. “Two people being literally ripped apart.” Those he thought were his friends stopped speaking to him. “I had to minister to people,” Davis explained, ...

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Dana Fields: “All I Had Were Songs and a Dream”

By Bob Marovich In her kitchen washing dishes one day, Dana Fields began to sing a line in unscripted devotion to God: “I will praise you, simply because of who you are. / In worship I adore you, I will lay my life before you. / At the altar of your throne, I bow to you and you alone.” The lyric and accompanying melody became the anchor for “Simply Because,” one of the ten songs on A Personal Experience. Released last September, the album entered the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart for one week in June 2017. The album’s charting took Fields by surprise: “I had ...

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Le’Andria Johnson’s “Bigger Than Me” Fits Her Past, Present, and Future

By Bob Marovich Rome wasn’t built in a day.  The world took a little more time to create. Some music albums take many months to produce. Not Le’Andria Johnson’s latest album, Bigger Than Me. She told JGM it took less than a week. “We were just sitting in a creative space, [producers] Claude Kelly, Chuck Harmony, and myself,” Johnson explained, “and we were talking about life’s struggles and life’s difficulties.” The discussion naturally led to a conversation about God and how He’s bigger than any problem. Eureka moment. Bigger Than Me. “That matches us perfectly,” she said. “We did every song ...

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Hello, Dolly: Gospel Artist Jermaine Dolly Offers a “Different Dynamic of Being a Christian”

By Bob Marovich In 2012, Jermaine Dolly, a background vocalist for Tye Tribbett, began toying with becoming a solo gospel artist. But he set it aside. Growing up, the southwest Philadelphia native never thought of being an out-front performer. “I was happy singing background,” Dolly told the Journal of Gospel Music. “Happy being a keyboardist at my church. If I’m comfortable somewhere, I don’t move.” But things changed dramatically for him on May 25, 2014. “[That day] I heard the voice of God, that it was time to move on from singing background and pursue my own career. When God ...

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Travis Greene: A Voice for a New Generation

By Bob Marovich Gospel singer, musician, and songwriter Travis Greene earned so many Stellar Awards at this year’s ceremonies in Las Vegas that he could have used a shopping cart to carry them home. Add a recent win at the Billboard Music Awards for his song, “Made a Way,” and there’s no doubt the Greene home now needs a bigger trophy case. But has this newfound success changed his life, the Journal of Gospel Music asked Greene in a telephone interview earlier this month. “What part?” he laughs. “The only real change is a busier schedule, but I’ve always been ...

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Chicago’s Kenny Lewis & One Voice Offer “Music Buffet” on New Album

By Bob Marovich Kenny Lewis, founder and leader of the Stellar Award-nominated gospel group One Voice, didn’t have to go any further than the current news to find inspiration for his new album. “With the way that the economy was going and with the election,” Lewis told JGM, “we really didn’t know what was going to happen. I felt like it was time for everybody to refocus back on Jesus and loving Jesus.” Refocus, Kenny Lewis & One Voice’s new (and fourth) album, is all about getting back to loving Christ. Released last Friday, May 19, the album’s single, “Love Song,” ...

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Lamont Sanders: “God Was Trying to Get My Attention”

By Bob Marovich Relaxing on the tour bus after a concert, Lamont Sanders could still hear the shouts of “Encore!” from tens of thousands of audience members echoing in his mind. The Bible says your gift will make room for you, Sanders reflected, and it had. He had signed with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Andre Harrell. His R&B group was performing to adoring fans, just like tonight. It had recorded an album that would soon be released. Life was good. Then he felt a presence in the seat next to him. A voice spoke: “That feels good, huh? They’re screaming ...

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Vancouver’s Warren Dean Flandez: the “Christian Bruno Mars”

By Bob Marovich No doubt about it, Canada has a thriving gospel music community. Some artists, such as Londa Larmond, the Quebec Celebration Gospel Choir, and the Sojourners quartet, have somewhat broken through into the U.S. gospel music market. I say somewhat, because in comparison to the long litany of Canadian pop artists who conquered the U.S. market and went on to become global sensations, gospel singers from Canada have yet to make their mark outside of their country. Warren Dean Flandez wants to change that. Although he has been active in music for many years, the Vancouver-based artist released ...

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