"We Gon' Be Alright" is the timely, new hope-filled declaration from multiple GRAMMY-winning artist Tye Tribbett. Laced with hope and encouragement, the new single picks up where Tribbett's latest #1 hit "Work It Out" left off, with its trap style and syncopated lyricism, along with a nod to Kendrick Lamar's 2015 community anthem "Alright."
Sometimes there are not enough hyphens to accommodate a mega talent. Tasha Cobbs Leonard is a worship singer/songwriter/actress/author/musician/entrepreneur/GRAMMY® Award winner
and an Executive Pastor at The Purpose Place where she Co-Pastors with her husband, Kenneth Leonard, Jr.
The 39-year-old Georgia native comes by her ministry and gospel roots quite naturally – she sang and grew up with a father who launched and Pastored their family church and impressed upon her to “stay at the feet of Jesus.” At home, her mother was often found listening to worship, southern gospel, and country music. In a full-circle moment, Tasha’s latest album Royalty: Live At The Ryman from TeeLee Records/Motown Gospel is an incredible acknowledgement of both undisputedly authentic influences.
Tasha is a “worshipper first.” She is sure about her purpose and intentional about focus. She launched her solo singing career in 2010, after serving as Worship Pastor for several years at her local church home. Greater things were ahead for this passionately committed leader whose purpose in life is to “always bring awareness to the presence of God.”
With her debut release, Tasha racked up three Dove Awards, three Stellar Awards, and a 2014 GRAMMY® Award for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance for her crossover single, “Break Every Chain.” The song, from her debut album, Grace, was a Billboard No.1 song for 12 weeks and has since been certified Platinum by the RIAA®. That was followed in 2015 by another No. 1 Gospel hit for the album, One Place Live, and a win for Gospel Artist of the Year at the GMA Dove Awards. In 2017, her album Heart. Passion. Pursuit. was released, featuring worship leaders from across the country, including Kierra Sheard and Anna Golden. It even included a track with pop icon Nicki Minaj. Tasha is no stranger to mixing musical styles.
The plan to record Royalty: Live At The Ryman was initially set for May of 2020. However, a production delay due to COVID-19 forced Tasha to push the session back a few months. “Nashville is so unique, with its firmly-rooted tradition of county music. Recording at the legendary Ryman Auditorium, which was originally designed as a sanctuary in the late 1800’s, was incredible. “We were on stage in the middle of a pandemic, performing only to the empty original pews of the Ryman. The room was filled with revival energy from years of history.”
Tasha co-wrote most of the songs on the new album, and even played the guitar on the lead single “In Spite of Me.” The offerings are wide-ranging. Tracks flow from the emotionally moving ballad “Mary’s Song” about what Mary may have been feeling as she sat at the feet of Jesus, to the raucous “God’s Been Good” reminiscent of an old-time revival meeting, to “Never Gave Up” an anthem for those who feel hopeless. Kierra Sheard makes a show-stopping appearance on “You Must Break” and Tasha’s full-throttle voice unleashes all its preaching power on “Release the Sound.”
“My music gives me an opportunity to do something that changes people’s lives from the inside out. Few career choices can do that. I minister to hearts, minds and souls,” she says gratefully.
Collaborations that include artists as diverse as Common and Ciara prove she’s not afraid to take on new challenges. She’s finishing up her degree in Pastoral Leadership at Valor College. She is a savvy entrepreneur heading up several businesses including a trendy Eyewear Collection, Fritz Eyewear Collection, in honor of her late father, Fritz Cobbs and a Plus Size focused athletic wear line, Curve Athletics.
Who knows what faith-based music project Tasha will take on next…it seems her potential is limitless!
This May, Dillard and his New Generation Chorale, better known as New G, will release their eleventh album and their debut recording for Motown Gospel, titled Choirmaster.
The multi-Grammy nominated artist recorded a live album in his hometown of Chicago last year.
Three singles are currently available digitally: “Since He Came,” “More Abundantly Medley,” and “Release,” featuring Tiff Joy, who penned the group’s “Amazing” the song that held the No.1 on the gospel radio chart for six consecutive months.
Other standouts include “The Rooftop,” one of Dillard’s favorite songs by The Mighty Clouds of Joy. It features lead vocals by quartet singer Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson. “Never Failed Me Yet” is a churchy piece rendered by Donisha Ballard.
Recently featured in TIME and Rolling Stone articles on Kanye’s pivot to gospel choir music, the innovator has been sharing his gift for gospel with the world for more than three decades, making an immeasurable mark on the genre and inspiring some of the most successful artists in the music industry.
A true pioneer, Dillard’s influence can be seen across genres and generations, inspiring the sounds of acts like Kirk Franklin and Kanye West. He has shared the stage with the likes of Patti LaBelle, Jennifer Hudson, Queen Latifah, Debbie Allen, Bonnie Raitt and P. Diddy.
“I feel the Lord shifting me into a father/mentor position,” he says. “Ministers of music and other directors are looking to me for mentoring and counsel and people look at us to see what we (New G) are doing next. I’m destined for greatness, I’m going where He said I’m going.”
Jonathan Traylor is a triple threat, and maybe more. As a world-class singer/songwriter, producer/musician, and dancer, the 29-year-old is poised to breathe new energy into the faith-based music scene with his unapologetically wild sound and style.
The Dallas-raised performer who grew up listening to pioneering gospel influences Kirk Franklin and Tye Tribbett, was inspired by their ability to use contemporary sounds and high-energy stage performances to infuse the culture with the message of the Gospel.
“I want to make music that helps not just the churched, but the unchurched,” Jonathan explains. “Christ wants everyone to have a seat at the table. It is not an exclusive thing. I want to make music that connects everyone and brings everyone to the table.”
An impressive vocalist, Jonathan is able to move listeners with a passionate grit, woo them with a crooner’s grace, and lift them with the emotion and of a true worshipper.
He realized singing was not his only passion before he graduated high school. By age 15, Jonathan had embraced songwriting as a core means of expression. “It was an outlet for me to get my thoughts and emotions out,” he recalls. I carried a lot, so writing was a way for me to release and get my thoughts out. It wasn’t always in song form, but it was just writing how I felt.”
Once he began sharing his music publicly, performing at churches and local shows, he started to see the impact of his songs. “When you're able to hear people singing back the words that you wrote, that’s a beautiful moment,” he says. “People are using these songs as anthems and it’s getting them through life. I’m grateful for those moments.”
A primarily self-taught musician, Jonathan plays piano, acoustic guitar, and several percussion instruments. He developed those skills as a service to his local church and fine-tuned them when he began producing tracks for the songs he was now writing not merely as an outlet for his emotion, but to reach audiences inside and outside of the local church.
“The production is everything. I did not just want to make music for Christians. I want a person who never opened up the Bible or has never been to church to be able to listen to my music and like the quality and the beat,” he says. “You should be able to listen to the instrumental without any lyrics and hear the melody and know what the song is going to be about. I’m real big on production and how the song makes people feel.”
As a performer, Traylor is a powerhouse of passion, expressing himself through the inspiring tracks that he writes and co-produces. Taking cues from the stage presence of Franklin and Tribbett, Jonathan began highlighting his considerable dance skills at his increasingly popular shows.
“I love performing. I love the energy. If you come to one of my shows, you are going to see a lot of dancing,” he explains. “That was one thing I promised myself when I was younger. I was intrigued by dance. I did stepping and praise dancing, but I also loved crumping and pop lock and hip-hop dancing. I want to be able to do that for God. I used to go to churches, and they would make me choose between dancing and singing. Why should I have to choose? God has given me multiple gifts, so I want to make sure I dedicate all of them back to Him.”
Audiences at Jonathan’s shows have come to expect the kind of energy that is normally reserved for mainstream music and club acts. “If you come to one of my shows,
we are going to be nonstop jumping and worshipping together. It feels like a big family reunion,” he says. “I don't want to hold back anything because He doesn't hold back from me.”
In 2019, after releasing his music independently for several years, Jonathan inked a record deal with Motown Gospel. The partnership has given him a larger platform for his powerful messages and a brighter spotlight for his unique performance style.
Now gearing up for the release of his major-label debut album The Unknown, Jonathan is excited to share the gospel with a new generation.
“I want to do something different in gospel music that people have never seen or heard before. I want to encourage younger people and help raise a whole new generation of worship leaders that are bold, that are fearless, that are authentic, that are raw,” he says. “I want to help raise a generation of wild worshippers that don't hold back anything and worship with an intense passion and fire.”
That fire he speaks of is ignited as soon as you hear tracks like “You Get The Glory,” a worship song that is hard to shake. “I remember getting on the piano and feeling like I had a heavy weight for people that were on their death beds, fighting cancer or terminal illness,” he recalls. “I cried so hard while I was writing it because I was thinking about those issues and people who feel like life keeps them down but are still devoted to Him.”
One thing that makes Traylor’s music so appealing and relatable is that he is not afraid to pull from his own trials, no matter how personal they are.
“It has been heavy on me to rally the believers and prepare them for the time that’s coming and stand up for faith in God,” he says. “Purpose Over Pleasure” is a track that does just that.
“As a young man, I asked God to help me choose my purpose over what’s pleasurable. I choose my purpose in Christ over the pleasures of this world,” he explains. “There’s nothing that will satisfy me, there’s nothing worth it. I wanted to sit down and dedicate a song to my flesh and anyone who tries to knock me off of this course to my destiny.”
Another standout, “I Trust You” was written in the lobby of a hotel in St. Louis at a time when Traylor felt particularly uncertain about his future. “I wanted to write a song specifically about trusting God and the words just came to me. ‘You’re more sure than the ground that I stand on. You're more sure than the air that I breathe.’ That’s what God is for me.”
With the support of Motown Gospel behind him, Jonathan Traylor is grabbing his destiny with both hands.
“For my generation, I feel like I’m meant to call people back to the cross and back to God,” he shares. “I really want to encourage and give hope. That’s my gift.”
Motown Gospel artist Gene Moore felt as if he was on top of the world. He had recently gotten married to the love of his life. Things were looking up.
Then the trials started. “First, my wife’s car broke down,” Gene explained, “and we were sharing a car for about six months. Then I lost my job due to layoffs and changes in administration. I had to file for unemployment. I started to drive for Uber and Lyft. I told my wife I felt like I was in a dark tunnel and didn’t know how to get out.” Deep in prayer, Gene heard the Lord’s response: tunnel vision.
“Tunnel vision, by definition, means you can’t focus on anything outside of the target in front of you,” Gene said. “If you look around, it feels like the darkness is swallowing you up. So, the only way to get to the light at the end of the tunnel is to keep moving forward. You will eventually see the finish line, which represents hope, which represents Christ.”
Tunnel Vision became the title and the theme of Gene’s second album for Motown Gospel. The album’s first single, “Won’t Be Moved,” was released June 21, 2019, along with a companion video directed by award-winning videographer Derek Blanks.
Brian Sledge, better known as Billboard-charting singer and songwriter BJ the Chicago Kid, wrote the song from a track produced by Cedric “Ced” Smith. “Ced presented the track to me,” Gene said, “and it was very urban. I know my lane when it comes to writing, so I needed somebody else to write to it. BJ and I have known each other for years. I sent BJ the track and he sent it back to me two or three weeks later. As soon as he demoed it for me, I knew that was it.”
A wordplay on the classic spiritual “I Shall Not be Moved,” “Won’t Be Moved” is about not letting the tribulations of life get the better of you. “I want ‘Won’t Be Moved’ to become the next catch phrase,” Gene said. “‘I had a bad day, but I won’t be moved.’ ‘My coworker is trying my patience, but I won’t be moved.’ ‘I’m having money issues, but I won’t be moved.’ I want people to see the salvation of the Lord.”
The other eight songs on Tunnel Vision also contain pearls of wisdom to accompany listeners on their faith walk. “My objective in putting out Tunnel Vision,” Gene said, “is for people’s faith to be strengthened, their hope restored, and their dreams renewed.”
Like many of his peers in gospel music, Gene Moore grew up a “PK,” or pastor’s kid. His father, the Reverend Gene A. Moore Sr., is pastor of March of Faith Community Church in Pearland, Texas, outside Houston. But unlike many of his peers, Gene didn’t discover his true passion for music until adulthood. His first public solo at March of Faith didn’t happen until he was around fifteen. He considered music “a hobby, something fun to do.”
Still, at age seventeen, Gene’s vocal proclivities landed him a spot in the Southeast Inspirational Choir. Founded by Shirley Joiner and Carl Preacher, Southeast Inspirational was the launching pad for gospel star Yolanda Adams. Gene considers the choir his launch pad, also, and Joiner and Preacher his informal music mentors. “They taught me to understand what I am singing about, to connect with the lyrics,” Gene reflected, “because if the words are not believable to me, they won’t be believable to anybody else.”
From there, Gene pursued a career in journalism, graduating from Sam Houston State University with a bachelor’s degree in radio and television and a minor in advertising. He started out as a gospel announcer at KWWJ Gospel 1360 AM, then transitioned to spinning Contemporary Christian Music at 89.3 KSBJ-FM. But as much as he loved radio, it felt more like a job than a passion. Though he can’t name the day or hour when it happened, he came to the realization that music was what he really wanted to do.
Deciding to keep his day job “until the music started working for me,” Gene sang part-time, following the journey wherever it led. That included stints as background singer for Israel Houghton and a seven-year run as background vocalist for Kirk Franklin. Gene’s music influences include a broad range of legendary soul and gospel singers from Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, and India.Arie to Pastors Marvin Winans and Jason Nelson.
Gene’s faith walk in the music business was rough at first. “I experienced a lot of broken promises,” he said. “I was signed to production deals that didn’t go through.” By age 31, he was ready to throw in the towel on his recording dream and remain a local singer. “I took on the attitude that if people wanted me to sing for this or that event, I’d do it, but that was it.”
Then former Motown Gospel VP of A&R Aaron Lindsey---a friend and fellow Houstonite who knew Gene from his work with Israel Houghton---asked if he wanted a record deal. He signed with Motown Gospel in 2013, but it took three years before his album, The Future, was released. “They had to figure out who I was as an artist first,” he explained.
The Future was critically acclaimed and experienced moderate sales and radio play. More importantly, it helped define the creative team for Tunnel Vision. “You have to learn about your partner—what they like, what they don’t like,” Gene said. “On my first record, everybody was trying to figure things out. On Tunnel Vision, they knew my vibe and polished it up a little, so it is more radio-friendly.”
In addition to Ced Smith, members of the Tunnel Vision creative team include producers Dana T. Soréy and Terence Vaughn, and songwriters, including Matt Redman, Eric Dawkins, Jason Nelson, and Deon Kipping. Gene also lends his lyrical perspective to two key tracks on the final project. As a result, the album traverses a variety of styles, including Praise & Worship with “Depending on You” and writer Jason Nelson’s Stevie Wonder-influenced “We Ask for Rain;” the urban beat of “Won’t Be Moved” and “That God;” and the pop-flavored “Love Like You.” The constant, however, is Gene’s creamy, resonant baritone.
For Gene, “Depending On You” is emblematic of the album’s overall theme. “That was the very first song I wrote for the album,” he said, “and I wrote it from a place of pain. The lyrics came from my heart. I want people to hear my heart and my transparency. I’m not going to let anything stand between me and my devotion to God.”
Powerhouse performer Evvie McKinney releases the upbeat anthem “Bring the Whole Hood,” her debut single on Motown Gospel/Capitol CMG. Co-written with her musical mentor, pop icon Meghan Trainor, this autobiographical track about the emerging star’s arrival features McKinney’s playful but passionate vocals, punctuated by a rhythmic piano and celebratory horns.Evvie McKinney rose to prominence as the winner of the inaugural season of the TV singing competition The Four: Battle for Stardom on FOX. The young singer with Southern charm wowed judges Sean “P. Diddy” Combs, DJ Khaled, and Meghan Trainor with her powerful voice and fearless stage presentation, packing a punch as she effortlessly covered iconic soul songs, like Aretha Franklin’s “I Never Loved A Man The Way I Love You” and Tina Turner’s “Proud Mary.” A multi-faceted performer with roots in the church, soul, and pop, the Memphis-born singer is readying music with a broad appeal to tell her powerful and inspiring story.
It is 2018, and that alone describes today’s culture, society, and thinking. It is a time marred by fracture, division, and confusion and it has been some time that message-oriented music has such relevance. As the effects of today’s America impacts every element of our day-to-day lives, it surely has an impact on our music. A GREAT WORK is an album that speaks right to the heart of the national conversation. Brian Courtney Wilson reflects on today’s culture of faith, on community & social injustice and our relationship with God. It is an album for the modern day church and modern-day believers.
Wilson raises the consciousness with A GREAT WORK. As a whole, it seeks to encourage our spirits, to strengthen our hearts and to restore our confidence in God and ourselves. Lyrically it contemplates the forces shaping American culture; and offers Brian’s perspective on this GREAT truth of God.
“I started to think about reinforcing confidence and value ... and how we as a community, as African-Americans and as believers, have so much worth nurturing and worth preserving,” Wilson said. “We have a culture worth building on. Delivering this message and music still maters.”
A message built upon hope, and on the biblical truths of God’s love, salvation and grace are worth treating like gold in Wilson’s telling. He treats his gift as valuably as he does the message and it’s evident on this project. Song to song there’s something beautiful and strong.
Working with a collection of top writers and producers, a veritable who’s who in music that includes V. Michael McKay, Aaron Lindsay, Warryn Campbell, Marvin Winans, and Erik Dawkins, Mano Hanes, and Shaun Martin this becomes Brian’s literal ‘Great work.'
A GREAT WORK is a profound collection of moving lyrics and a celebration of music styles that reveal Wilson at a new level of sophistication and depth in his artistry. You can hear the influences of Sam Cooke, Donny Hathaway and Luther Vandross throughout, as well as smart production choices, make A GREAT WORK unlike anything in today’s field. There is dance, funk, R&B, soul and traditional gospel throughout the 10-tracks. “One More Praise,” reminds you of the best part you’ve ever been to; while “Won’t Let Go,” is throwback soul. Another efficacious gem is “Our Father Is Kind,” that tenderly showcases Wilson’s vocals.
Kicking the project off is “You Make Me Rich,” the tempo and musicality let you know that where the album is going. It is going to be different, and it is going to be special.
“‘You Make Me Rich’ speaks to knowing that regardless of their circumstances or bank account that believing in Jesus Christ can make you rich,” said Wilson. “You can have so much joy, peace, love that you could never give it all away ... it overflows.
Most importantly for Brian, it is about leaving a legacy for his children and the future. Brian talks extensively about the idea of planting a seed that creates a legacy. “I believe that all the things happening in my life now is connected to what other people planted years ago ... not knowing what the harvest would be.” “It is about believing enough in the seed that you plant ... that no matter what your current circumstance is; or how dissatisfied you may feel now, don’t let that keep you from planting faithfully for the future,” Wilson said.
That is at the heart of the album and of the title track, “A Great Work.” Serving as equal parts mantra and instruction “A Great Work” reminds us to keep going, to keep serving, to keep fighting. God has already given us everything we need to be great. “I want people know de- spite what society may be showing and telling us; despite what we hear about ourselves ... we need to be encouraged,” Brian said.
He continued to explain his hope to “leave a legacy and anchor that [my kids] can lean on that helps them steel themselves against the type of vitriol and anger they hear in the world. But I also want people to go back to treating each other and the faith with honor ... I want to remind people to treat each other with honor, especially the way people of faith treat other people of faith. We need to acknowledge our differences without using them to diminish one an- other.”
Seeing and understanding our differences is at the core of “Heal,” a message-oriented song that pushes hope, despite the pain. Speaking to the collective need for healing and hope,“Heal” is a perfect anthem for all of us who try to find peace in a fractured world.
A GREAT WORK connects on all levels to people in different ways, but it is ultimately an album that speaks Brian Courtney Wilson’s heart so clearly and so wonderfully. “What I hope people hear and get out of this body of work is that they have something of immense value that is worth sharing and worth planting. We have to be intentional about building one another up and celebrating accomplishment and encouraging the best effort.”
For Anna Golden, the road to national recording artist was anything but a predictable path from the church pew to the sanctuary stage. The 23-year-old native of St. Louis, MO started her career as a showbiz kid---the youngest of four unusually talented siblings. By her early teens, Anna had spent the majority of her childhood in Los Angeles audition rooms, landing a manager before she could drive and earning consistent work with mainstream entertainment outlets including Radio Disney.
“All of my siblings---John, Liz, and Josh---are involved in mainstream music or acting,” Anna explains. “I started in the mainstream also, but at 15 I remember having a moment with my parents where I told them the attention was too much pressure for me.”
That honest confession to her parents changed the focus of Anna’s career and led her to her true passion---worship ministry. “I loved leading worship because none of the attention was on me,” Anna says. “All the glory is directed to God.”
“Both of my parents led worship in their young adulthood. So, when I was growing up, they were always singing and writing worship songs,” Anna reflects. Her father, a chiropractor with a private practice, only played worship videos in his office where Anna was a frequent visitor. “I remember just sitting there watching videos and seeing Michael W. Smith lead worship from the piano, and I loved it so much.”
Anna’s love for playing and listening to worship were set, but it would take an unexpected encounter with God to nudge her toward leading worship in the local church.
“When I was about 11 years old, I remember being in a service with my youth group. Our pastor told us, “Find a place in the room. Let God speak to you,’” Anna says. ”I had this little red notebook, and I just remember writing down that the Lord spoke to me and said, ‘Music will be your calling. I gave you this gift for a reason. Your voice is a gift.’ I just remember being so impacted by that and thinking, OK I’m not going to run from this.”
After several years as a member of the youth worship team, Anna began leading worship at Faith Church in her hometown. By age 18, she was put in charge of the worship team and began recording and releasing her own worship songs independently.
Her commitment to the local church earned her an unexpected opportunity that would gain her national attention.
In 2017, Tasha Cobbs Leonard was planning the recording session that would become her historic album Heart. Passion. Pursuit. “Tasha reached out to all of her closest friends, including Adrienne Grimsley one of the pastors at the church where I was on staff. She asked, ‘Who’s ministering to you at the moment?’” Anna recalls. “Adrienne responded by sending her my EP.”
The GRAMMY-winning worship artist, who achieved global prominence with her groundbreaking hit “Break Every Chain,” trusted her friend and visited Anna’s social media pages, watching videos of her leading worship. “Tasha was really moved by that,” Anna says. “So, she actually sent me an email. I’ll never forget opening that email and being requested to come and be a part of the record.”
“When I got there, it was incredible. It was like meeting your heroes and not being let down by people just being prideful or crazy,” Anna continues. “Tasha was so kind and considerate and really took the time out to be with all of the worship leaders who were part of the project, giving us vision. She actually asked me if I would be featured on the song “Gracefully Broken”. It was honestly an incredible moment. From there we’ve been very close. It felt like we had known each other forever.”
The connection extended beyond the album, with Anna traveling with Tasha as a background vocalist and serving alongside her in the local church where Tasha was worship pastor.
And when Tasha made the move to launch her own imprint, TeeLee Records, in association with her longtime label Motown Gospel, she chose Anna Golden as her debut artist.
“Anna is a relevant and necessary voice to this generation,” Tasha says. “Her influence has already crossed barriers and built bridges culturally. I expect her impact to be explosive, quickly.”
Anna has not disappointed. In late March 2020, shortly after the Coronavirus pandemic began to impact the world, Anna Golden caught the internet’s attention when she---joined by sister Liz Golden and pop superstar Selena Gomez--- uploaded a stripped-down cover of the worship anthem “The Blessing” to Instagram, while in self-isolation in Los Angeles.
The post instantly gained massive attention for Anna in the mainstream and worship worlds, helping to launch her song “Peace,” to critical and consumer acclaim. Starting as a private expression from Anna’s own experiences, “Peace” quickly turned to a musical balm that she knew would speak to the waves of anxiety and depression so commonly crashing against people today.
Anna’s melodic and pure voice, enveloped in warm pads and ethereal strings, washes over listeners like healing water. “I use my voice as an instrument,” Anna shares. “Often times when I’m singing, I’m picturing the notes being painted on top of the instrumentation like a brush to a canvas.”
On “Peace” and the other songs she has written for her major label debut, Anna is finally realizing the global impact of the gift she first embraced in that youth conference so long ago.
“I believe that music is a beautiful translator to anything that the Lord wants to say to someone,” Anna says. “My mission when I’m leading worship is to extend what has been extended to me---the power that’s in worship, the warfare that’s in worship, the peace.”