Travis Greene: A Voice for a New Generation

Travis Greene at the 2017 Stellars. Photo Credit: Maury Phillips, Courtesy of Central City Productions/TV One

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 who I am. I’ve always had a lot of energy. I love people, so I get to do what I love doing, just on a bigger platform now. I can’t take any credit for it – it’s all Jesus.”

JGM first heard of Travis Greene with the release of his 2010 single, “Still Here.” Not long after, gospel artist Lisa McClendon name checked Greene as a singer she was following. “A lot of people think [my success] was overnight,” he said, “but I’ve been at this a little while.”

In fact, Travis Greene’s journey as a professional gospel artist began in earnest in 2007.

His chief inspiration was John P. Kee, but he also cites Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond as influences. “I’m a fan of gospel music,” he said. “More than listening to it, I’ve studied it all my life. Even now, I like to break down the science of it  because I’ve been a student for so long.

More than listening and studying gospel, Greene wanted to get into music and ministry

“The big push I needed came from my piano instructor at Georgia Southern University. She was asking me what I was going to do after graduation. My plan was to go to grad school and get a master’s in business. She told me not to. She told me to do what was in my heart to do. I told her my heart was in music and ministry. She said, ‘Well go after it. Don’t bide time.’ That’s what I did. It took a while, but we’re here!”

Greene received an early confirmation of his faith walk at the release party for his debut album, The More, in 2007.

“I did my album release in a gym in Warner Robins, Georgia,” he said. “I was very surprised by the outcome. People packed it out. There were 300 to 400 people there, and it was probably one of the bigger events that year, honestly, in that city.”

That was just the start. His latest album, The Hill (RCA Inspiration), garnered him seven Stellar Awards, including Song of the Year (“Made a Way”) and Male Vocalist of the Year; and the Billboard Music Award for “Made a Way.”

But what makes Greene’s music so popular?

“It’s music full of passion and praise,” he explained.  “It’s music that’s easy to worship to.  It’s accessible energetic, fun, and liberating.”

He also writes most of his own music—“One of my favorite things to do is write,” he said. His songwriting technique is to capture on his phone the melodies and lyrics that come to him anywhere and at anytime.

His new single, “You Waited,” is one of them.

“I was sitting on a plane when God gave me the idea for [‘You Waited’],” he explained. “I had a vision of the woman at the well, and the meeting Jesus had with her in John 4, and the fact that he sat at the well and waited for her to get there. With that thought in mind, I gave a melody to the chorus and I just started singing it on my phone, right there on the plane. When I got to the car, I kept singing it, and by the time I got home, the song was written.”

The video for “You Waited” has, at the time of this writing, generated nearly 750,000 views. It is the first single from Greene’s forthcoming album, Crossover – Live From Music City.

“The title track, ‘Crossover,’ is about moving forward from death to life, from darkness to light,” he said. “It’s music to inspire a generation to get involved in their future and cross over from what was to what’s before them. The past is gone and the future is waiting. That’s what the album is really about: encouragement to move forward.”

Greene said that he wrote or co-wrote all of the tracks on the album. While some songs are the product of older concepts he’s worked on over time, the majority come from prayer and thinking about new songs.

“I love the Bible, and one of my favorite stories is in Exodus,” he said. “That’s where the album concept came from: the journey to freedom. It applies so much today as to what our Egypt is, whatever we are bound by. I want to encourage people to move forward into what God has prepared for them.”

Jevon Hill of Jacksonville, Florida, and Greene co-produced the album.

As far as guest singers on the album, Greene said: “I’m okay with collaborating [with major artists], but I really enjoy the opportunity to give exposure to people who aren’t known.  So I’ve done that on this album, with several young people that you will become acquainted with.”

Greene’s production team is currently fine tuning the project, which is scheduled for release this August. “We’re probably 98 percent there,” he said.

Had Greene ever anticipated he would get to this point in his career?

“I have to be really honest: yeah, I did,” he said.  “If I go after anything, I expect the highest outcome. So I never enter anything thinking that it will be unsuccessful. I’ve played music my whole life, and even when I wasn’t very good at it, I knew that I was getting better and that one day, a generation would look to me the way I look to the people I respect.”

For more information, visit http://travisgreene.tv.

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.

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