Gospel Artist Marvin Sapp Reveals Why He Almost Quit Singing On Next Episode of TV One’s UNSUNG Airing TONIGHT!

Hello World,

I was first introduced to Gospel artist Marvin Sapp about 20 years ago by a dear friend who has since sadly passed away from leukemia. I figured if my friend thought he was an awesome artist, I needed to check him out…

But it would be years from then when I became a true fan of Sapp’s music for myself. When “Never Would Have Made It” came out in 2007, I couldn’t go anywhere without hearing that song and I understood why. I think we can all testify that there is nothing we could have achieved without God or the help of someone else. I believe that Sapp was testifying about God, but the lyrics can be applied to anyone who has been a significant support in our lives…Check out some of the lyrics below….

I never, never would have made it
No, I never, never could have made it without you
I would have lost my mind a long time ago
If it had not been for you…

I remember on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 when I was in the sanctuary of Ebenezer Baptist Church, along with the whole and packed church, waiting for the results of that historical election. I heard “Never Would Have Made It” at least three times during the night at the church. Me and the hilarious man sitting next to me didn’t care if we heard that song again for at least a few days. But when it was announced that Barack Obama was elected president, that song fit perfectly. President Obama would have never been elected president of these United States without God! That’s for sure.

All of that to say TV One’s longest-running and award-winning series Unsung, now in its 11th season, will air its latest episode featuring Marvin Sapp TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET! Check out the promo below!

With one of the most unique voices in gospel music, Marvin Sapp has been spreading the Gospel through song for over three decades. His powerful mix of old-school sensibilities and new school swagger led him to dominate the gospel charts in the 2000s with seven Top 10 hits including the #1 songs, “Never Would’ve Made It,” “The Best in Me” and “My Testimony.”  The Midwestern pastor’s music resonated beyond the pulpit, often being played on mainstream radio and even landing on the Billboard R&B and Hot 100 charts.

But Sapp’s faith would be tested on several occasions – from illness, to personal attacks, to the tragic death of his wife, MaLinda, to colon cancer.

And he almost stopped singing….Check out a clip below about why he almost gospel music behind….

Sapp recently created headlines when he compared the popularity of Jay-Z’s latest album 4:44, in which the rapper reveals his infidelities in marriage, with how the public receives the music of gospel artists…Check out his commentary, which he posted on his Facebook page below…

Do you agree or disagree? Should we look past the imperfect lives of gospel artists and support their music? I think we should in general because not one of us is without sin. But on the other hand, there should be a demonstrable difference between the lives of those of us who have surrendered our lives to God and those of us who haven’t.

Speaking of other gospel artists, also on the Unsung episode, insights from family and friends are provided by Kirk Franklin, Byron Cage, Donald Lawrence, Dorinda Clark Cole, Myron Butler, Aundrae Russell, Marvin Winans Sr., Tyrone DuBose, Karl Reid, and Fred Hammond.

I’ll be watching Unsung with Marvin Sapp tonight! What about you?

Any thoughts?

 

Remembering the Life of My Friend & Soror Sherry “Elle” Richardson…

Hello World,

If you hadn’t noticed, I took a brief hiatus from blogging. About three weeks ago, just before Memorial Day, my husband and I took a quick road trip to Tampa, Florida for his birthday so all of my extraneous energy was directed to that impromptu endeavor. And then the day after we returned, Memorial Day, I learned that a dear friend suddenly passed away. So it’s been difficult to collect my thoughts, much less write them or anything else down.

But here I am, back at a blank page, ready to reveal the ruminations I’ve had since my friend and soror Sherry “Elle” Richardson passed away, two weeks ago today, on her birthday.

This is how I looked when we first met. Yes, I was a geek at first 🙂

I met Sherry in 1992. I was a freshman at the University of Georgia in Athens, and she was a transfer student and sophomore. I met her along with another girl whom she had befriended before they met me. The three of us were fast friends, initially bonding over our desire to not be there at all. LOL! The three of us didn’t want to attend a white school, plain and simple. All devotees of “A Different World,” we were hungry to experience a historically black college or university, an HBCU, for ourselves. We wanted the funky marching band, the opportunity to meet our own Dwayne Wayne, Shazza Zulu or Julian Day (dependent on your taste in men), the endearing yet tough tutelage of black professors and the adventures that unfolded in dormitories teeming with people who looked like you but were from everywhere. Instead we were the minority, one of a few black faces at a school where we expected to learn but we couldn’t guarantee much else. But over time, we grew to love our historically white university and all that went with being a Georgia Bulldog in Athens at that time.

If college was a trip and it was, then Sherry was my travel agent. We had so many adventures together! A sheltered preacher’s daughter, I longed to party a la Ariel in “Footloose,” and Sherry was the perfect partner in partying. We practiced dancing in the mirror before we could “shake what your mama gave ya” in parties at Memorial Hall, where most on-campus parties were held! And if we felt like it, we ventured to Atlanta and partied in clubs all over town too. Our belief was it we weren’t dripping sweat when we left a party then we hadn’t partied.

But Sherry wasn’t all about partying though. We both wanted to establish ourselves as leaders on that colossal campus. One of the ways that we concocted to do so was to pledge a sorority. We noticed that most of the black women who seemed to be leaders were members of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, plus they won all of the step shows and looked good doing so. Since she was a year ahead of me, Sherry was ready to pledge, but as a freshman, I wasn’t quite ready or qualified. Sherry decided that one of the ways that she could get the attention of the Deltas was to take part in the Miss Black University of Georgia pageant, which was sponsored by the sorority. Not only did she take part, she won the competition! I’m sure you can guess what happened after that. And when I was ready to pledge the following year, 1995, she successfully advocated for me to become a member of our illustrious sorority.

Partying in Atlanta after we graduated from college…I got better with time fortunately…

After she graduated in 1995 and I graduated in 1996, we kept in touch. In fact, I introduced her to many of childhood friends who promptly loved her as much as I did. In fact, some of these friends hung out with her without me at times. One of our first adventures as brand new adults was a girls trip we took to Jamaica in 1997. It was such a heady experience to travel with your girls on your own dime! The four of us belted out our rendition of TLC’s “Creep” over and over and over again at a karaoke spot one night. I remember shutting down a “hole in the wall” club another night. One day, we watched a brave friend jump from the cliff at Rick’s Cafe in Negril. We called the trip the “Girl Dems Sugar,” a song by Beenie Man that we heard repeatedly wherever we went on the island. And since Sherry was a film producer by profession, she filmed our adventures in a beautiful video that I have to figure out a way to see now since no one has a VCR anymore.

On the Metro in D.C. on Inauguration Day (don’t ask me why I have on pink and green?!)

Speaking of a VCR, fast forward years later, in 2009, several of us caravanned from Atlanta to Washington, D.C. to see the inauguration of President Obama. It was amazing that Sherry, one of my first friends at an institution where I feared I would be lost as a minority, and I witnessed the inauguration of the first black president of this country together. We bought thermal underwear, hand warmers and more to brave the bone-chilling temperatures on the mall that memorable day and shed it all to stun at the Southern Ball that night.

At the Southern Ball, one of several balls that President Obama and First Lady Obama stopped by…

And then in September 2012, we were back in Jamaica again as one of our friends, a childhood friend who now claimed Sherry as one of her besties, was getting married on the island. We were roommates, and it was a wonderful opportunity to catch up in a way that is sometimes hard to do as adults with jobs and other responsibilities. As we were there for a wedding, we discussed what love and marriage meant for us and pondered what that would look like for us as women nearing 40 years old.

At my book release party in 2012…

That next year, 2013, I helped Sherry celebrate her 40th birthday at a Hawaiian luau-themed party she had a her home. A month later, she came to my Southern tea-themed bridal shower followed by my wedding in August of that same year. As college students who lived down the hall from another one another, we saw each other every day. Naturally, as single women staking our claim in our chosen professions following college graduation, we didn’t see each other every day anymore. But we saw each other pretty regularly when our extended group of girls got together to explore the city from brunches, Memorial Day picnics, sisterhood retreats (which she created) at various homes and destinations, the “Sex and the City” movie premiere and more.

But I must admit, when I got married, I cocooned myself in newlywed bonding and didn’t avail myself to random hanging as much as I once did. I noticed the same pattern among friends who had gotten married before I did so I realized it was normal although not always advisable for maintaining friendships. When I heard the news of Sherry’s passing, I realized it had been quite some time since I had seen my friend…I only hope that Sherry knew how much I treasured my friendship with her over the years although recent life events dictated my time.

At a friend’s bridal shower…

Although I am a committed Christian, I cannot pretend that I have an inkling as to why God chose to call my friend away from this earthly realm. Since her homegoing, as I’ve walked throughout my house or driven somewhere, found myself saying, “Imagine Sherry is no longer here?” As I’ve gotten older, I’ve experienced the passing of friends, family members and church family, but it doesn’t make it easier or predictable. These experiences only emphasize that life is truly a transitory state. We should savor all that this life, though temporal, has to offer, but most importantly, we have to be saved or become a Christian to go to Heaven, which lasts for eternity.

So that’s all I have except to say I will miss and love her forever. And I thank God I knew her…

Rest well Sherry…Save a seat for me in eternity…

Any thoughts?

 

Why Racist Reactions to Mall of America’s Black Santa, the Emanuel AME Church Shooting Trial & More Show America is Still Sick…

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

black-santa

Hello World,

It’s supposed to be the “most wonderful time of the year,” a time when built-up grievances melt under the glow of multicolored Christmas lights and warm Christmas music, families flung far across the country corral themselves to remember their roots and strangers smile at one another for no other reason than to demonstrate “peace and goodwill to all men.” But this Christmas season of 2016, despite all of the light displays and songs, planned family pilgrimages and spontaneous smiles, the parasites of racism are still attached to America’s underbelly and will not release its host even for the reprieve of Christmas…

While I celebrate Jesus and not Santa Claus at Christmas, the image of Santa Claus, though not real, has always brought comfort and joy! A jolly man awarding nice not naughty children with gifts, who swoops down, with the help of reindeer led by Rudolph and his red nose, on homes across America every Christmas  – what’s not to love? In the broader culture, yes, Santa Claus is typically white, but here in Atlanta, the birthplace of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., I remember black Santas malls in black neighborhoods when I was growing up. Though I may be wrong, I don’t remember there being any controversy regarding being black Santas in some neighborhoods.

But I guess the first black Santa at the Minnesota’s Mall of America, no less, is too much! At least for some Americans…According to rawstory.com article “Santa is WHITE. BOYCOTT Mall of America’: Online racists are Having a Meltdown Over Mall’s Black Santa,”  Minneapolis Star-Tribune’s editorial editor had to shut down comments on its black Santa article because of offensive comments. How disturbing particularly since Santa Claus is not even real! And Santa Claus is based on Saint Nicholas, who according to New Testament and early Christianity expert  Harvard Professor Laura Nasrallah was ” born into a family that probably considered itself to be ethnically Greek but in an area of the world that we now call Turkey.” She further noted that,  “Historically, you can’t import a category like ‘white’ into fourth century Asia minor,’ according to the politico.com article “Scholar: Santa Race Claim Nonsense” which was written after Fox’s Megyn Kelly said Santa Claus and Jesus were white in 2013.

Last year, I wrote the post  “Why is the ‘Real Face’ of Jesus Controversial? The Real Christmas Story” about the medical artist Richard Neave’s rendering of the real face of Jesus going viral. I expressed confusion because “although my earliest recollections of portraits of Jesus featured a man with blonde hair and blue eyes which I probably learned about in Sunday School and or the private Christian school I attended as a child, I stopped believing those depictions were accurate once I understood the Christmas story even as a child. That was probably around the time that I read ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ and began to study world history. My deductive reasoning led me to believe that Jesus, while in human form, must have been of a darker hue and looked similar to those who live in the Middle East.”

All of this to say, a black Santa, or an Asian Santa, or a Hispanic Santa, etc.  shouldn’t be offensive to anyone born in America (or elsewhere for that matter), which is promised to be the melting pot of all cultures and countries…

And then juxtapose that display of racism with the display of racism that is unfolding in Charleston, South Carolina where Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shooter Dylan Roof is on trial for killing nine black churchgoers following a Wednesday evening Bible Study in 2015. In an FBI video, Roof said of his murderous acts, “Somebody had to do it.” According to the CNN article “Mass Shooter Dylann Roof, With a Laugh, Confesses,’I did it'” he also said, “Black people are killing white people everyday… What I did is so minuscule compared to what they do to white people every day.” He specifically targeted the church because it is a historic black church. “It’s historic, too, you know. I think at one time it had the highest ratio of blacks to white during slavery, and AME is a historic church. I researched black churches.” Maybe it’s no coincidence that this church is named after the name of Jesus Christ that we use at Christmas time and that this trial is unfolding during the Christmas season.  The Jesus Christ I believe in and know to be real wants all of His children to be treated as human beings. Anything less than that demonstrates that America still needs healing despite how far we have come.

Just miles away from me in Carrollton, Georgia, another display of racism at Christmas time happened last week. Gerald Byrd, who is black and Carrollton’s Mayor Pro Tem, was collecting pine cones in a local park for an art project, when he was approached and threatened by a white man after the man questioned him about why he was in a state park. “Then he said, ‘My wife is coming and she has something for you, too.’ Up comes his wife with a German shepherd and I’m too far from my car to run and I’m petrified,” Byrd said,” according to a wsbtv.com story. Byrd posted a video about the incident at the park shortly afterward on Facebook and has received death threats since then!

These are just three incidents that demonstrate how deeply America has been and is still infected by racism. At this time of the year, I would like to pretend that racism doesn’t exist and even just for a month (the last month of President Obama’s presidency,) we can all get along but sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case…

Any thoughts?

 P.S. This some came out in 1973…