I've been on the gospel scene in Jackson for almost 10 years as a gospel announcer, writer and an event planner; as a result, I've seen the ebb and flow of the rich gospel scene here. I've witnessed the birth of crossover contemporary gospel as well as the passing of some of gospel's legends. I've also observed the multi-talented local gospel artists that we have here in the Jackson and surrounding areas.
In those years, several questions have formulated concerning the status of our local talent. With all of the great gospel roots here in Jackson and the great legacy that our state has, why haven't more local gospel artists been noticed nationally? We are the home of the Mississippi Mass Choir, The Williams Brothers, The Jackson Southernaries, The Canton Spirituals, and Lee Williams and the Spiritual QCs—all major players in the gospel industry.
We have major and minor record companies in Mississippi as well as impressive studio and production resources. They are so good, in fact, that major artists from across the country want to come to Mississippi for studio time—because we are said to have some of the best musical engineers in the country.
There is phenomenal gospel talent right here in Jackson. The kind of talent that could one day bless the world with a magnificent song ministry. Yet, who's developing our local talent? Is there anyone willing to take the time to help polish the next Yolanda Adams? Why haven't they been moved to the next phase?
Gospel music is indeed a beautiful expression of our love for God. Yet, there's a business side to everything. The gospel industry produces millions of dollars each year in the form of CDs, videos, concerts and plays. The industry is now embarking on other media such as more gospel television, magazines and Web sites. Therefore, the industry is big enough for any artist to enter in.
I'm not suggesting that a record contract should be handed to someone on a silver platter, but that's not the worst idea in the world. There are those in the gospel community who have worked hard to build their ministry/careers. These artists have sung on everyone one else's program with no love offering. They have supported events showcasing artists from other states, while not even being inviting themselves to sing on the program.
Could it be jealousy, envy or strife keeping our artists back? Whatever it is, we in the gospel community should pull together to create better avenues for our music.
Who are the next major players in the gospel industry? Who to look out for? Maybe it's soloist Stephen Johnson who just recorded this past January. He's faithful to the choir at Greater Fairview Missionary Baptist Church, under an anointed Minster of Music, Lannie Spann-McBride. Johnson has also recorded with the Mississippi Children's Mass Choir and the Mississippi Mass Choir and is also a member of the group Anointed Gifts.
Or, maybe the next major quartet group will come from Raymond. There's a group of young men who go by the name Purpose. They recently did back-up for legendary Harvey Watkins Jr. of the Canton Spirituals who recorded a solo album just two weekends ago. They are planning to record their own album very soon. Keep an eye out.
Stacia Hunter is a writer and a deejay at WOAD-FM. She will write regularly about gospel and other topics for the Jackson Free Press.
Gospel Promoter- would like to contact the Jacson Southernaires for a gospel concert in mid 2004. call or write: Rev. Dennis J. Robinson, (727)896-5062, p.o. box 11631 St. Petersburg, FL 33733
Rev. Dennis J. Robinson
- Rev. Dennis J. Robinson