Gospel music is rooted in the Black church experience of the African-American South and birthed out of the Negro spirituals of slavery. It is a genre that is rhythmic, thankful, interactive and joyful. Despite not being a mainstream pillar, it can be argued that gospel music is the foundation of many Black music genres and a staple of the Black household. There are those songs that every Black person just seems to know, whether they are frequent churchgoers or not.
Artists such as Chance the Rapper, Common and MC Hammer have incorporated their sounds into their music, continuing the migration of gospel from the rural South to places across the globe. While we have identified gospel artists such as BeBe & CeCe Winans, Marvin Sapp, Yolanda Adams and Kirk Franklin to always go back to, EBONY has put some newer faces in the spotlight for Black Music Month. Last week in celebration of BMM we featured genre-bending musicians; you can check them out here: Deeper than Rap.
Take a peek at the 10 fresh acts below to see how they fit in the modern landscape of music.
The young Houston-based urban contemporary gospel quartet began in 2009 with siblings Rhea, Ahjah, Darrel and Alic Walls. After catching the attention of Kirk Franklin, the group signed to his label, Fo Yo Soul Recordings, in conjunction with RCA Records. Their debut studio album, Fast Forward (2014), hit No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Album chart and featured R&B star Brandy on their single “God on My Mind.” The sophomore album, The Other Side, was released in November 2017.
They were nominated for Best Gospel Performance/Song at the 57th Annual Grammy Awards for “Love on the Radio.” The quartet also received a slew of nominations at the 30th Stellar Awards, the first and only Gospel Music Awards show in the country, including Artist of the Year and Music Video of the Year.
Their music empowers today’s youth to be vocal about their worship and still feel cool and a part of the in-crowd.
Formerly of a member of the Bronx-based gospel quintet LIVRE, Leek is now taking a swing at solo music. The group’s studio album Jericho: Tribe of Joshua snagged the No. 1 spot on the Billboard gospel chart and featured collaborations with A$AP Ferg and Jason Nelson.
At the beginning of the year, Leek released “No Glory,” produced by Melissa Lyric. It is a modern take on gospel music fusing praise with the bass-heavy trap subgenre of hip-hop. He is no stranger to the music business because he has provided background vocals to rising R&B star, H.E.R. He will be assisting the singer on the upcoming Chris Brown tour, where she is the opening act.
Referred to as “the Justin Bieber of gospel music,” she went from being a viral YouTube star to becoming gospel’s darling and adopted the stage name Bri. After success on the video platform, she started her professional music career in 2015 with the release of her live debut album, Keys to My Heart, on Tyscot Records. The 23-year-old made Billboard history by becoming the first singer to debut at No.1 on the digital gospel chart without previous sale history or any promotion on radio or television.
The Moody Bible Institute and Trinity Evangelical Divinity School graduate became a paster of Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church of Chicago after college. His music career began in 2012 with the release of The Best of Both Worlds by Inspired People and EMI Gospel. It reached No. 1 on the Gospel Albums chart and No. 41 on the Billboard 200. The follow-up album, Any Given Sunday was released on March 17, 2015, and also hit the top spot on the Gospel chart. Jenkins and his fellowship have amassed 100,000 monthly listeners on Spotify. “Can’t Turn Back” is their latest single.
Carr, 21, is a Grammy-nominated urban contemporary gospel artist and preacher from Arkansas. She won a Stellar Award at just 16. Her debut album Greater Is Coming was released on May 21, 2013, and reached No. 3 on Billboard’s gospel albums chart. Since her rise to fame, Carr has been featured on an episode of Greenleaf a TV drama series on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The “You’re Bigger” singer has also released her latest album One Nation Under God this past Feb.
Born William James Stokes, the Chicago native is a songwriter, producer and Christian hip-hop/R&B artist signed to Atlantic Records. With his music, Stokes pushes the boundaries of traditional gospel music. His debut album Saint or Sinner is an eclectic offering, which features artists like Killer Mike, Michelle Williams and Brandy. His single “Raise Hell” received a nomination at the 2016 BET Awards for Impact Track of the Year.
Cobbs is a worship leader and minister who started her music career in 2010 with the independent release Smile. Her musical offering got the attention of EMI Gospel (now Motown Gospel) to which she later signed and released Grace (2013) the album reached No. 61 on the Billboard charts.
She has done songs with Nicki Minaj, Kirk Franklin and Common. Cobbs won the Grammy for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance at the 56th Annual Grammy Awards. She also won four categories at this year’s Stellar Awards in Female Vocalist of the Year and Contemporary CD of the Year.
Brown and his group which consists of, Ashia Bello, Shirley Daley, Jamarice Daughtry, Michelle Thompson, Martellies Warren, Nicole Wilson, Mashica Winslow and Doretha Sampson are signed to Tyscot records. The capitalized “AP” in the group’s name is a reference to Brown’s former group, Answered Prayers.
Their self-titled debut album was released in 2012 coming in at No. 130 on the Billboard 200, No. 3 on Gospel Albums and at No. 19 on the Independent Album charts. They won Best Group at the 2018 Stellar Awards. A Long Way From Sunday is the latest album from the collective released on July 28, 2017.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.