Interviews

Feeling Good: Dr. Leonard Scott Reflects on 40 Years at Tyscot Records

By Bob Marovich As a young person growing up in Central Indiana, Leonard Scott had an inkling of what he wanted to be when he grew up. He wanted to be a rock star. “I wasn’t into gospel music [at that time],” Dr. Leonard Scott told the Journal of Gospel Music. “I was into rock and R&B. But I had an experience with my Maker. And at that experience, I learned that music had been my God.” Rather than transition from secular to sacred music, howeve,r Scott’s religious conversion kept him away from music altogether. “I didn’t want anything to draw ...

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Charlin Neal, “The Little Girl with the Big Voice,” Goes Solo

By Bob Marovich Nearly a decade ago, singer Charlin Neal stood on a stage in Trinidad as a member of Israel & New Breed. It was her first official program with the multi-award-winning group. “I was excited and intimidated,” Neal told the Journal of Gospel Music. “Of the 30 [Israel songs I learned], we maybe did eight of them—and two other songs I had no idea even existed!” Israel Houghton liked Neal’s sound and invited her to travel to Nigeria with the group. “I’ve been going since then,” she said. Trinidad and Nigeria are a long way from Bakersfield, California, where Neal ...

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For Chicago’s Cynthia Eubanks, It’s All About the Ministry

By Bob Marovich With its infectious aisle-walking vigor, “Nobody Like the Lord” couldn’t be more Chicago if the CD cover had a photo of the Picasso on it. It’s the debut single by Cynthia Eubanks, a Chicago artist who has wanted to sing gospel music ever since she was a young girl, participating in regular family singalongs. “My Uncle Eugene and Aunt Wilma would start off singing doo wop songs from the 1950s and 1960s,” Eubanks told the Journal of Gospel Music, “then they would sing gospel songs and it would turn into a mini gospel concert. Being one of ...

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Christian Hip Hop’s Amour Raps to Change Lives

By Bob Marovich Amour has a two-fisted passion for life. Growing up in her father’s church, she sang, played drums, led the youth choir, and joined the dance team. In college, she focused on business, law, fashion, and graphic design. Among a kaleidoscope of interests, one was a gift for rhyming and rapping. Channeling her gift into a means of higher praise, Amour is now emerging as one of only a handful of female Christian hip hop artists. She is also using her talent, and her story, to change lives. Amour (born TerDawn DeBoe) now lives in Cleveland, Ohio, but ...

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Micah Stampley’s Eighth Album Has Vertical Worship, Hymns With a Twist

By Bob Marovich On May 20, Micah Stampley releases his eighth album, To the King…Vertical Worship.  The live recording, which took place at Oasis Family Life Church in Dallas, Georgia, on June 26 of last year, finds the gospel crooner offering up a batch of new songs, many co-written with his wife and songwriting partner, Heidi. “Be Lifted,” the album’s first single, is already impacting gospel radio. Stampley talked with JGM about the new album, first explaining what he means by vertical worship. “To be categorized as a gospel artist,” he said, “we have to sing the gospel.  It’s not rocket ...

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Jonathan Nelson On Songwriting: “When It’s Flowing, It’s Just Flowing”

By Bob Marovich On March 18, the Stellar Award-winning singer-songwriter Jonathan Nelson released Fearless (Light Records / eOne Music), a live recording that JGM gave its highest possible rating, five stars, for its ability to “be musically versatile and passionate yet remain firmly rooted in the atmospheric and hypnotic P&W technique.” Nelson spoke to JGM about how his songwriting process contributed to the creation of Fearless. “My songwriting process is ‘when it comes,’” Nelson said. “I could be in a car–and a lot of times songs come to me in the car because I’m alone–or in meditation time, and I pull ...

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Christon Gray Has a Lot to Say

By Bob Marovich A lot can happen in two years. Just ask Christon Gray. In 2014, the Christian artist released his solo debut album, School of Roses. It caught the attention of Kirk Franklin, who signed Gray to his Fo Yo Soul Recordings/RCA label. On Friday, March 11, 2016, The Glory Album, Christon’s second solo album and first for his new label, hit the streets. “The album is doing well,” Gray told the Journal of Gospel Music. “Kirk Franklin told me to be myself, to have the freedom to do what I want to do. His validation was very encouraging. ...

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Michael Weatherspoon’s New Book Aims to Improve Music Ministry Leadership

By Bob Marovich For the past 30 years, musician, producer, and record label executive Michael Weatherspoon has seen what works and what doesn’t in church music ministry. In particular, he’s noticed that church members are often elevated to leadership positions without the proper leadership education. A lack of training, he says, can be detrimental to both minister and ministry. His new book, The Cost of Indecision: A Plan for Music & Life (Faithwalk Publishing), is a collection of lifelong observations, lessons, and directives on music ministry, as well as action items that can be learned today and put in practice tomorrow. ...

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Vernell Payton Jr. – Former Sunday Best Contestant Steps Out on Faith

By Bob Marovich In Mark 6:4, Jesus advises that “a prophet is honored everywhere except in his own hometown.” This is true, almost to the point of becoming cliché.  It rings true for Vernell Payton Jr. “It took a man from Chicago, who did not know me, who I never met, to see something in me that my own hometown did not invest time in,” the independent gospel artist told the Journal of Gospel Music while in Chicago last week, visiting his record label, 4Parks Entertainment. Payton’s hometown is New Orleans, and more specifically, the Gentilly area, which abuts Lake Ponchartrain. ...

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“That Dude Deon” Kipping Finds a Place Called Victory

By Bob Marovich The stage curtains opened on JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise as the group was about to introduce its new song and soon-to-become-hit, “Incredible God, Incredible Praise.” Holding the microphone was the song’s creator, Deon Kipping. That wasn’t the way it was supposed to go down. “I didn’t want to lead the song,” Kipping told JGM. “I wanted to give it to somebody else to lead, but the curtain was opening and I had the microphone in my hand. So I had to walk out and sing it.” That moment, and that song, became Kipping’s inadvertent introduction into ...

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