In an industry that is home to stellar artists such as Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin, another male vocalist has stepped over the threshold—Dathan Thigpen.
Thigpen, a Jackson native, is a member of an extensive, tightly woven lineage of singers, musicians and men of the cloth. His grandfather, a preacher whom he never met, was part of the team that established Jackson's first Church of God in Christ congregation. His uncle, David Curry Jr., is one of the founding members and the current lead producer of the award-winning Mississippi Mass Choir, of which Thigpen is a member, operating under the direction of his mother Dorcus Thigpen. His father, Don, is a music writer and pastor of Noah Ministries, and his brothers, Donovan and Dominic, also are musicians.
"I feel blessed to be a part of this heritage," Thigpen said in an interview. "It's like I've been around music all of my life, I was destined to do this."
Responding to that destiny of creating music for God's glory is a calling that Thigpen does not take lightly. "I wanted to make sure I was in the will of God and not my own," he said. "Choirs come and go, and I did not want to be left trying to figure out what happened and why."
As a child surrounded by music and its complicated industry, Thigpen, now 24, admitted that he did not fully understand what was happening around him at the time. But he knew a few things for certain: He liked the feeling and the sound of gospel. "I used to meet all these people and hear them say the Mississippi Mass Choir is on the top of the charts," he said. "I didn't know what that meant until I became an adult and really got into it."
As Thigpen grew through gospel music, he caroled with the Mississippi Children's Choir where he sang vocals on the track "There Is Hope." Years later, he matured into the ranks of the Mississippi Mass Choir and offered his lyrical gift on their 1999 title cut, "Amazing Love." Recognizing the blessing of his past opportunities, Thigpen believes it is now time to stir up his gifts.
"This was an awesome opportunity, and I am grateful," he said. "Now I believe the Lord wants me to do more."
Thigpen coalesced the well-received choir Holy Nation two years ago. They recently completed their first compact disc.
"This was a major undertaking, and we had no idea what we were getting in to," he confessed. "But I know for a fact that God will provide the provision for our vision."
Operating under the theme of "GET UP" (Get Exposed to Unadulterated Praise), Thigpen believes that praise and worship music is his forte. "I'm the praise and worship leader at my church, Word of Faith, and I'm under a dynamic pastor in the form of Bishop Kevin Wright," he said. "My church ministry helps me do what I do with Holy Nation. Before you can serve in music ministry at church, you must go through classes."
Thigpen leads selections with his church ministry by leaping joyfully in the pulpit, creating a vision of intense worship.
"Everything I do and that we do as a ministry, we have asked God to order our steps," Thigpen said.
Thigpen believes there is longevity in the gospel music industry and, subsequently, a home for his ministry. Though his choir is actively seeking a major distribution deal, his untitled solo project is scheduled to be independently released next fall. Meanwhile, he and his brothers are still gift-stirring; they have accepted another assignment from God by forming a record company.
"I know this is where I'm supposed to be at this time in my life," he said. "I've labored for a while with several different choirs and groups, now it is our season."