The first and most important thing to know about my musical taste is that I do not and will not buy anything of any artist that I don’t believe I will listen to for life. Thus, my music collection is quite small. It consists mostly of my treasured but almost obsolete cassette tapes. I was finally forced into purchasing my first CD in 2007 when I could no longer get a vehicle with a tape deck. Though I was happy to have Kirk Franklin’s new project, The Fight of my Life, I was crushed by the fact that I had to succumb to the changing technology.
Until this past Friday, I had only purchased three CD’s since then, including another Kirk Franklin project. The music of today was not moving me in the slightest. Artists did not seem to be creative anymore, but rather imitators of past success, in an attempt to gain success. I was disappointed in what every genre had to offer and was particularly disappointed in gospel music as this genre seemed to be stunted.
“Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it?” Isaiah 43:19
The 90’s saw a huge shift in the world of gospel music. I grew up in an era where choirs ruled gospel airwaves; then Kirk Franklin hit the scene and expanded the idea of what choirs could be. Bebe & Cece Winans were the closest we had seen gospel artists come to being crossover artists; then Yolanda Adams dropped Open My Heart with her powerful vocals and garnered awards typically given to the mainstream. The Black Church was notorious for the devotional part of service known for old spirituals and testimonies; then Fred Hammond introduced us to Praise & Worship and changed what we know as the ‘Order of Service.’
I believe what made these artists become industry shakers in the gospel arena was their commitment to just be themselves. They each told their personal stories in their own way. Audiences are attracted to authenticity. These artists dared to be musically different in their approach to telling the good news of Christ. For over a decade, I had lost hope in the ability of the Gospel industry to embrace a new and authentic sound. Then, while watching the 2014 Stellar Awards, I saw Jonathan McReynolds.
With just his guitar and a mic, this artist restored my faith in the possibility that Gospel music could evolve without losing the message of Jesus. The lyrics of No Gray were brutally honest and what I thought to be a clever clap back at church culture. I began to follow more of Jonathan’s performances online. Eventually, radio caught on to this new talent and I heard his music played on local stations as well as satellite radio. However, I was still not willing to actually purchase an album until I heard the song Pressure, a couple of months ago.
That was it for me! McReynolds was able to create a prayerful worship song with a Neo-soul vibe capable of penetrating even the hedonistic ear. I was late to the game as his new album had been released over 6 months earlier but I had to get it. It is a purchase I am happy to add to my collection. More importantly, it is a project of which I can share with unsaved friends to show the continual evolution of gospel and loving message of The Gospel.
Check out the song that inspired my purchase!