My favorite “bad girl” of gospel Le’Andria Johnson is back with her new album “Bigger Than Me,” which is available where you buy music as of TODAY! On behalf of RCA Inspiration, she debuted singles from her album in the packed out The Gathering Spot in downtown Atlanta last night, and I was blessed to be able to hear her new music in person. Another gospel great Marvin Sapp said something on his “Unsung” episode on Sunday that I’ve been thinking about since then. He said he is not sure if he wants any more hit songs because they were birthed out of painful experiences. Well, Le’Andria may have at least one hit on her hands because her song “All I Got” is dedicated to her brother Gregory A. Johnson Jr. , who passed away last November. In addition to singing “All I Got,” she also showed the video for the single. Check out the video of her singing a bit of “All I Got.”
Below are a few pics I took as the video was screened for the audience…
That is a picture of Le’Andria and her brother. Apparently, the video, which was directed by Derek Blanks, was filmed on his birthday….
Sometimes you have to sing in the rain…
The last shot was beautiful…
To her surprise, Le’Andria’s father Bishop Gregory A. Johnson Sr. was in the house. I’m sure it was an emotional night for both of them, but she had everybody laughing when she said she wouldn’t have worn her short shorts if she had known her father was going to be there. I can relate! (And I still I want to know why I’m the only PK I know who can’t sing especially when my father can 🙁 )
Another song she sang “Gone Too Long” is about when you’ve been gone too long from the presence of the Father. Every once in a while, I get rebellious with God and walk away but thankfully, I haven’t got gone that long. And I’m diligently praying for those in my life who have been “gone too long” from God. She sang this song beautifully, but when she invited Zebulon Ellis and her brother Michael to sing the song with her, babaaay…Take a listen for yoself…
And of course, the title cut from “Bigger Than Me.” See below….
Le’andria’s producers Chuck Harmony and Claude Kelly of Weirdo Workshop were introduced as well. They have worked with Bruno Mars, Rihanna, Ludacris, Ledisi and legends such as Michael Jackson and Whitney Houston. Claude told the audience as they are usually “locked in a studio,” they never get the opportunity to see how audiences respond to an artist in person. He also said that when Le’andria came to their location in Nashville, she had to walk by plaques commemorating all of the artists they have worked with in their career. When she walked by Whitney Houston’s plaque, she told them that was what she wanted. “It wasn’t about her fame though. It was about the effect that a positive female voice can have on generation.”
Chuck and Claude with Gabby Jones of RCA Inspiration….Photo Credit: James Pray for RCA Inspiration
Here is Le’Andria with her father and brothers…Their genes are strong! Photo Credit: James Pray for RCA Inspiration
And for my OWN “Greenleaf” watchers, Le’Andria is on Volume 2 of the “Greenleaf” soundtrack!!! Photo Credit: James Pray for RCA Inspiration
Judging by how folk responded to her performance last night, Le’andria new album “Bigger Than Me” is fire! Get that!
In honor of mothers on Mother’s Day, I want to introduce you to 12-year-old Alena Pitts and her mother Wynter Pitts who co-wrote the new book Hello Stars, the first book in the Lena in the Spotlight series from Faithgirlz! Below is the synopsis of the book.
Young Lena Daniels never thought she’d get the chance star in a movie. Headstrong and determined, she has her life planned out to the minute. But when her best friends, Savannah and Emma, tell her about an audition for a part co-starring her favorite singer, she knows there’s nothing else in the world she’d rather do. And now that she’s gotten her wish, Lena finds that being in the spotlight is harder than it sounds. She got everything she never wanted! Her face turns up everywhere she goes, and everything in her life is flipped upside down. Lena wonders if this is a dream come true or a horrible nightmare. Even a visit from her best friends during filming turns into a disaster. With her little sisters—Ansley, Ashton, and Amber—and her mischievous pup, Austin, constantly at her side, Lena must face the challenges of everyday life while chasing her dreams of being a model and actress on the big screen. Lena tackles tough choices, learns the value of perseverance, and keeps her hopes high. She knows her faith and family will keep her feet on the ground and her eyes on the stars.
As an author for Faithgirlz, which is offered through Zonderkidz, the children’s division of Zondervan, Alena is the youngest, African-American female author with a major book publisher! You may already be familiar with Alena, who portrayed Danielle Jordan in the 2015 hit film War Room! Below is my interview with Alena & her mother Wynter…
1. How does it feel to be the youngest, African- American female author to be represented by a major book publisher?
Alena: Kind of surreal still. Like it hasn’t really hit me. So it’s crazy. I’m just grateful that it happened to me! And then I’m like, ‘Thank you God!’
And how did you get a book deal for Hello Stars?
Alena: So, my mom was like, ‘Hey Alena, do you want to write a book together?’ I was like, ‘Sure.’ My mom was like, ‘That would be so fun!’ I really didn’t think that was going to happen, but she was like, ‘Let’s just pray about it.’ So I prayed about it not really expecting anything to happen. So like two weeks later, we got an e-mail from Zondervan asking if we wanted to write a book for them. So I was like, ‘Wow, this must be God’s plan!’ (Laughter)
Wynter: It literally happened just like that! It was just this random thought I had one day, and I just looked at her and said, ‘It would be so fun if we wrote a book together.’ And that was it. And then, a few weeks later, we got an e-mail from Faithgirlz saying they wanted to talk to us about the project. It was so bizarre. Because of my ministry with girls, I had done some Faithgirlz product giveaways and helped them promote some things so I had a relationship with the publicist there. Since then, I found out the publicist mentioned our names to their team over the last year or so, but I didn’t know anyone else on the team!
2. I understand that Lena’s story is based on what has happened in your life as you starred in War Room.
Alena: Well, the book is about Lena Daniels, and my nickname is Lena. That was where I got her name from. And the book was about how she wanted to be in control, and she had her whole life planned out until God was like, ‘No, you’re going to be in a movie and then, you’re going to do this for me. And none of this stuff you have planned for yourself is going to happen.’ And she was like, ‘Wow, I can’t be in control.’ But she found out over time that going with God’s plan is way better than anything she ever dreamed of and that’s kind of like my life.
I had my whole life planned out, my job and what I wanted to do when I grow up. But then I got an audition for a movie. And I was like, ‘Wow, this is crazy!’ And I had to learn to give it all to God! And let Him be in control. So the story line is based on my entire life. And a lot of the funny things that happen in the story are actually real.
So you had your whole life planned out already at 12 years old?
Alena: Yes. My original plan was to do a couple of things. One of my plans was to go to law school and become a lawyer because I love to debate and stuff. But then I figured out how long law school was! Then I was like, ‘Nah!’ Then, I was like, I guess I will be a singer and learn to play some instruments. I still kind of pursue that. But another part of me was like I want to be a professional volleyball player which I still want to do. But based on my life, anything is possible, and you don’t have to stick with one thing your entire life. That’s really boring.
3. So Hello Stars is just the first book in the Lena in the Spotlight series. What can your readers expect in the future books in the series?
Alena: Expect more surprises, more plot twists.
Wynter: Lena continues to grow in her faith and in learning to let go of her plans.
Alena: Yeah because she doesn’t fully learn to let go in the first book! So she goes along on that journey in all three books.
4. You portrayed Danielle Jordan in War Room? How did you get to audition for that role?
Alena: My aunt [Priscilla C. Shirer] was one of the main characters in the movie, and she asked me if if I wanted to audition because they were looking for a little girl to play the part of Danielle. I was like, ‘Sure, I would love to do that.’ But I really didn’t think I would get it. But I kept auditioning and auditioning, and it came down to me and this other little girl. I was like, ‘Wow, this could actually be real. This could actually be what I do in the future.’ I just kept praying about it, and I got a call and I was asked to be in the movie. I was like, ‘Goodness. Sure!’
5. What was it like being on set every day with the Kendrick Brothers, a the Christian brothers who produced the film?
Alena: I like to say it was like church. In the morning, we had prayers. It was different than a normal movie set. And it was a lot better than a normal movie set. And then throughout the day, we would stop and pray if something went wrong. And it was really fun because there were a lot of kids there who were a part of the movie like the double-dutchers.
(Check out behind-the-scenes footage of the double-dutch scenes from “War Room” below)
Where was War Room filmed?
Alena: It was filmed in Charlotte, North Carolina.
And now you want to be an actress?
Alena: I wouldn’t say that. But like I was saying before, if another opportunity comes up, I would definitely say yes to something I felt had God had for me. But I wouldn’t say I would be an actress for the rest of my life.
Wynter: I just encourage her and tell her that when God lays things on her heart or brings things to her just like auditioning for “War Room” to just say yes to it. Even in writing the book. I want her to say yes to the opportunities that God brings her way.
6. As a co-writer for Hello Stars, how did you contribute to the book?
Wynter: Well, Alena would write the outline and the plot, and she would sent it to me. And then I would help to stretch it out. I would add words and make the story longer.
7. Other than the book Hello Stars, is there something from the War Room experience that the both of you took away that stays with you today.
Wynter: For me, just the whole point of the movie is that prayer works. And not just saying, ‘Lord, give me this, give me that.’ But when we have a heart that really wants to serve God and wants to see Him glorified in our lives, when we commit that to prayer, He is able to do amazing things!
Alena: Yes, prayer works and prayer is possible. When I was younger, before the movie, I really didn’t think prayer was something for me. I thought it was for older people because they always had testimonies about everything that happened. But I never heard a little kid talk about the power of prayer so I was like, ‘Yeah, that’s not for me yet.’ I will wait until I get older. But then during the movie, I started to pray, and I was like, ‘Wow, this is something that happens for everyone.’ God doesn’t just listen to older people. I like to say that God’s favorite people are little kids! And I will keep saying that until I get older. (Laughter)
Below is a video of Wynter and her daughter Alena talking about Hello Stars.
About the Author: Alena Pitts is a young actress and model from Dallas, Texas. As the oldest of four girls, Alena first cut her teeth in acting through making home videos and dramas with her sisters, using their entire home as their recording studio. She has a natural love for all things creative which falls right in line with her gifts and talents. The Kendrick Brothers’ War Room marks Alena’s professional acting debut. With only school theater on her young resume, Alena jumped at a chance to audition for the role of Danielle Jordan. In addition to school and acting, Alena models and is a frequent contributor for the magazine For Girls Like You.
About the Co-Author: Wynter Pitts is the founder of For Girls Like You magazine and the author of For Girls Like You: A Devotional for Tweens and You’re God’s Girl. The mother of four girls, Wynter’s mission is to empower and equip girls to walk boldly into becoming who God has created them to be and to provide parents with the resources and support needed to raise strong Christ followers. In addition to publishing the quarterly magazine, Wynter is a frequent blogger, a contributor for LifeWay’s ParentLifeMagazine, and a public speaker. She is also the niece of Dr. Tony Evans. Wynter, her husband, Jonathan, and their four daughters (ages 6-12), reside in Dallas, Texas.
Thanks to Alena and Wynter, I’m giving away a free copy of Hello Stars to the first person who emails the answers to these questions: What star from a ’80s to ’90s sitcom starred in a Kendrick Brothers film? What was the name of the sitcom? And what was the name of the film? Email your answer to me at email@example.com.
GRAMMY Award-Winning Gospel Artist Le’Andria Johnson, who is also pastor of IPC (Imperfect People Changing) Ministries, will perform at the 2nd Annual Steeple Awards this Saturday, April 22! The Steeple Awards bring together some of the biggest names in gospel music and ministry to celebrate their work on the frontline in the battle for souls. In addition to Le’Andria, who recently released her new single“Bigger Than Me,” the show will also feature BET’s Sunday Best Season 3 Finalist Latice Crawford, James Hall and Worship and Praise, Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson, Delra Harris, V3, Kevin Lemons & Higher Calling, The Wardlaw Brothers, Keyondra Lockett, and Damita.
Five ministry leaders will be honored with the prestigious Nehemiah Award, including Pastor Marlin D. Harris of New Life Church, Bishop Paul S. Morton of Changing a Generation FGBC, Apostle Travis C. Jennings of The Harvest Tabernacle Church, Pastor Jerry D. Black of Beulah Missionary Baptist Church and Apostle Thomas H. Vinson of Highpoint Tabernacle Church. Famed gospel singer Dottie Peoples will receive the Reverend Dr. Clay Evans Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by the Peach State Health Plan.
“The Steeple Awards identifies and celebrates ministry leaders and gospel music artists who have earned widespread acclaim as well as those whose contributions have previously gone largely unacknowledged,” said C. Chandon Carter, the show’s creator. “Prepare for a night of powerful testimonies and powerhouse performances. We’re excited to showcase the work that God is doing through these faithful servants.”
The awards show will be hosted by Christian comedian, social media breakout star, Karlton Humes. The list of 2017 presenters is still growing and includes GRAMMY Award winner Kevin Bond, Sheen Magazine’s Kimberly Chapman and Sammie Hayes, TC Carson, Page Turner, Dr. Kevin Bond, Latavia Roberson and more.
The Steeple Awards takes place at New Life Church-Atlanta, 3592 Flat Shoals Road, Decatur, GA 30034. VIP Red Carpet and Reception begins at 3:00 p.m., followed by the awards show at 5:00 p.m. General admission adult tickets are available for $40. A limited number of VIP tickets are available for starting from $65 and include entry to the Founder’s Reception, the Red Carpet Stroll, in addition to VIP seating.For more information and to purchase tickets, visit thesteepleawards.com.
The Pre-Show Concert Extravaganza takes place this Friday, April 21st at 6:3o p.m. located at More Than Conquerors Church, 3600 Snapfinger Road, Lithonia, GA 30038. The pre-show will be hosted by rising gospel artist Lawrence Flowers and will feature performances from Urban Contemporary group Half Mile Home, B. Chase Wililams & Shabach, Tobbi & Tommi, among many more.