Author Carol M. Mackey Thrives After Divorce, Releases ‘Faces of Praise’ Featuring Gospel Greats!

Hello World,

Everyone loves a great comeback story! Well, I’ve got one for you on this Sunday morning, the day of all days to celebrate comebacks!  My sorority sister Carol M. Mackey, who once helped launch the careers of many African American authors as the editor-in-chief of the largest African American book club, Black Expressions Book Club, in the nation, faced a setback when she lost her job and went through a divorce a few years ago. But since then, she has reclaimed her career as an author and is applying the lessons God taught her through her divorce and emotional upheaval. Carol’s latest book, “Faces of Praise!: Photos and Gospel Inspirations to Encourage and Uplift?” which will debut this Tuesday, Oct. 17, is a testimony to that!

This full-color photo gift book that turns chart-topping contemporary gospel music into Bible-based devotions is a three-way blessing for readers: a perfect companion to favorite gospel recordings, an encouraging devotional and a unique photo collection.

FACES OF PRAISE! turns your favorite contemporary gospel songs into Bible-based devotions.

Here are never-before-seen full-color images of 60 top contemporary gospel singers, taken on stage as they led worship concerts. The photos capture the artists as they praise, revealing their passion for God, and inspiring in you the hope, joy, and endurance expressed in their music.

FACES OF PRAISE! pairs the most popular, uplifting songs of these gospel greats with scripture, inspirational text, and prayers.

So get your praise on because this book is a three-way blessing-it’s a perfect companion to your favorite gospel recordings, an encouraging daily devotional, and a unique photo collection. Artists included:

  • Yolanda Adams
  • Shari Addison
  • Crystal Aikin
  • Rance Allen
  • Vanessa Bell Armstrong
  • Amber Bullock
  • Kim Burrell
  • Jonathan Butler
  • Myron Butler
  • Shirley Caesar
  • Byron Cage
  • Erica Campbell
  • Kurt Carr
  • Jacky Clark-Chisholm
  • Dorinda Clark-Cole
  • Tasha Cobbs
  • Joann Rosario Condrey
  • Y’Anna Crawley
  • Andraé Crouch
  • Kirk Franklin
  • Travis Greene
  • Deitrick Haddon
  • J. J. Hairston
  • Fred Hammond
  • Tramaine Hawkins
  • Israel Houghton
  • Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson
  • Le’Andria Johnson
  • Canton Jones
  • John P. Kee
  • Deon Kipping
  • Mary Mary
  • Donnie McClurkin
  • William McDowell
  • VaShawn Mitchell
  • J. Moss
  • William Murphy
  • Jason Nelson
  • Charisse Nelson-McIntosh
  • Smokie Norful
  • Kelly Price
  • Hart Ramsey
  • Marvin Sapp
  • Karen Clark Sheard
  • Kierra Sheard
  • Richard Smallwood
  • Micah Stampley
  • Kathy Taylor
  • Tonéx
  • Tye Tribbett
  • Trin-i-tee 5:7
  • Uncle Reece
  • Hezekiah Walker
  • The Walls Group
  • Melvin Williams
  • Michelle Williams
  • BeBe Winans
  • CeCe Winans
  • Marvin Winans
  • Vickie Winans

Check out my interview with Carol about “Faces of Praise!: Photos and Gospel Inspirations to Encourage and Uplift” below!

1. Your first book “Sistergirl Devotions: Keeping Jesus in the Mix on the Job” included devotional readings focusing on women and the workplace. What inspired you to write “Faces of Praise!: Photos and Gospel Inspirations to Encourage and Uplift?” How did this project come to be?

I met the book’s photographer, Jeff Grant, at a mutual friend’s wedding back in 2012. Our friend knew Jeff wanted to publish a book and I was the editor-in-chief of Black Expressions Book Club at the time. Jeff and I became fast friends and one day over lunch he showed me his photographs on his phone. They were awesome photos of not only gospel artists, but regular church folk in various forms of worship. The first words out of my mouth were, “These are the faces of praise!” I knew he and I would someday do a book together and got the idea to merge my writing talent with his beautiful photographs. But I was in the middle of a bad divorce and knew that wasn’t the time. Too much emotional upheaval. Then one day in April of 2016 I got a call from my friend Adrienne Ingrum asking if I was working on anything new (she knew I’d written “Sistergirl Devotions.”) She was the editorial director over at Faith Words and was looking for new projects. I told her about my idea of merging Jeff’s photos of gospel artists with my my devotionals based on the artists’ songs. She loved it. And “Faces of Praise” was born!

2. In addition to photographs of gospel greats, the book also contains devotionals that express the message of the artists’ songs. Tell me about the creative process in writing these devotionals.

Many of the gospel artists I knew and loved their songs. However, some of them I wasn’t familiar with so I relied on Jeff to give me their most popular songs so I pulled them up on YouTube and gave them a listen. Inspiration came from unexpected places—the Holy Spirit does this often with my writing. I think ‘we’ are going in one direction and He totally flips the script on me and leads me a whole other way. He did that with a few of the songs. I’d write a complete devotion and He led me to scrap it and write something else. God knows what people need better than I do. I was obedient because I know He led me a certain way for a reason. The Father always knows best!

3. What are your favorite photographs and accompanying devotionals and why?

I don’t really have a favorite but some of the devotionals, though hard to write, were powerful paired with Jeff’s images of the artists. A few of the spreads I love are Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile,” Andrae Crouch’s “Through It All,” and Dorinda Clark-Cole’s “I’m Still Here.” The images and the message evoke a feeling. I pray they will bless whoever reads them.

4. Did you get to meet any of the artists in the book, and what was that like? And will the artists featured in the book help to promote it as well? What are the plans for promotion? A book tour?

Unfortunately I haven’t met any of the gospel artists in the book but I’m sure I will at some point. Many of them have already done promo videos on Facebook—Kirk Franklin, Richard Smallwood, Hart Ramsey and a few others. They’re Jeff’s personal friends and are happy to help us out. We’ll be doing signings together and apart in the coming months. No formal tour is planned though.

5. Most authors probably don’t have the opportunity to work with a photographer. How did that element impact the creative process?

Honestly we worked independently of one another. Jeff supplied the artist list based on the photos he had taken over the years and suggestions for song titles. I wrote the devotions based on the songs, and Jeff worked with the publisher to choose the best photos for the book.

6. What do you hope readers will get from “Faces of Praise?” 

I hope and pray they will be encouraged during the hard times. The last several years of my life have been challenging—lots of loss and disappointment. I always tell people it was the worst time in my life but it was the best time in my life. I needed God more than ever and He showed me He was still with me despite the ground crumbling beneath me. I believe in order for wounds to heal, they have to be exposed. That’s why the Bible says to “confess your sins. How can the Lord help you if you keep denying you have a problem? There was no shame in my game. I’m here to tell folks He will deliver you during your stormiest season. You get the lesson and the blessing and He gets the glory. It’s a win-win.

7. Is there anything else you would like to add?

This book was very cathartic for me because I wanted to address real issues that Christians face—illness, divorce, job loss, tragedy and so much more. I mention many of my own failures and disappointments. God never promised us a life free of pain or heartache, but He did promise to never leave us or forsake us. That’s the main takeaway—He’s with you!

Check out the promo for “Faces of Praise!: Photos and Gospel Inspirations to Encourage and Uplift?” with Carol M. Mackey & Jeff Grant below! “Faces of Praise” is available where all books are sold!

To join the “Faces of Praise” Facebook group, click on THIS link!

Any thoughts?


Comedian, TV & Radio Personality Rickey Smiley Set to Release Debut Book ‘Stand By Your Truth: And Then Run For Your Life!’

Hello World,

Visit a church, comedy club, college campus, or barber shop, and it’s not easy to find people who aren’t familiar with, or lifelong fans of, Rickey Smiley and his outrageous morning show radio crew. As the host of the huge nationally syndicated The Rickey Smiley Morning Show, which draws in at least 4 million listeners every day, he’s also the star of his hit TV show Rickey Smiley for Real – one of the only reality show series to address life as a single dad. Plus, he has 8 chart-topping comedy albums.

But Rickey’s always had something more offer — and it’s more revealing than anything he’s done so far. STAND BY YOUR TRUTH: And Then Run for Your Life! (Gallery Books; Hardcover; October 24, 2017) is part memoir, part testimonial, and part life guide – mixing Rickey’s down-home humor with values learned from three generations of elders, the Baptist church, and some of the most celebrated mentors in entertainment (aka Steve Harvey).

Written as much for parents as it is for their young adults, STAND BY YOUR TRUTH offers tough-love conviction, both in turns funny and earnest, on straight talk such as:

  • How it’s impossible to come back from mistakes without self-forgiveness
  • Why “The Deadbeat Dad” is a myth
  • How to break out of that comfort zone — because you are not a chicken
  • The often untold ups and downs raising kids (and teenagers) as a single father
  • Proof success can only happen when opportunity meets long preparation
  • Ways speaking up for yourself is nothing to be ashamed of, so “Handle Your Business”
  • Why, now more than ever, our lives depend on what we stand for — and then sticking by it

In a time when we are craving world-wise humor as much as insight, STAND BY YOUR TRUTH by the one and only Rickey Smiley is here to deliver on both.


Any thoughts?


Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s Album Release Party Recap for HEART.PASSION.PURSUIT…(PHOTOS+VIDEO)

Hello World,

Friday night, I ventured over to the Dec at The dReam Center Church of Atlanta to check out the album release party for Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s third album HEART. PASSION. PURSUIT. (Motown Gospel). First of all, the dReam Center has moved and grown! A few years ago, it used to be in North Atlanta in a kind of medium-sized industrial building and now it is in large traditional church building just past South DeKalb Mall. Secondly, although Tasha Cobbs Leonard is a multiple Stellar and Dove Award winner and, GRAMMY®-Award winning recording artist, I honestly didn’t expect the onslaught of folk that were trying to get up in the church. The parking lot was full, folk parked in the surrounding neighborhood and an overflow parking lot nearby the mall was getting action too. I ended up parking in the grass and almost got in a tiff with two older ladies who had their eye on the parking spot that I was trying to stake out! LOL. But after that, everything flowed pretty smoothly.

This is the stage/altar area of the dReam Center…Pretty traditional…

So just ahead of me I noticed Shekinah Anderson, who is the best friend of Tiny Harris and a reality star in her own right. Of course, I had to look around for Tiny or T.I., but I did not see them. I also noticed Egypt Sherrod, former radio personality and current realtor and host of HGTV’s “Property Virgins.”

So I’ve never seen a church with this type of sign affixed to the architecture…”Get In Where You Fit In.” Okay…not traditional…

Pastor William Murphy asked everyone to turn on their cell phone lights (so I don’t know how to do that LOL) because in his words, “It’s about to be a ‘lit’uation.” “Light it up and let the world know who Jesus is.”

That’s pretty, huh?

So Pastor Murphy told what I thought was a pretty powerful story about when he first stated the dReam center on Jan. 15, 2006. He said he thoroughly prepared for the sermon he delivered on that Sunday. Although there were roughly 350 people there, only one person joined the church. He said he tried to act like he wasn’t bothered by the fact that only one person joined. That person, however, was Tasha Cobbs. This was years before she recorded her first album, but look at the impact she has had in the name of God since then. It just goes to show that through one person you can impact the world, and you never know who will be that one person! I mean it was standing room only at that church for Tasha Cobbs Leonard, and I saw a few people who were turned away…

Pastor Murphy also shared how Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s album HEART. PASSION. PURSUIT. was recorded nearby where the Interstate 85 bridge in Atlanta collapsed in March and how he thought that was significant as the goal of the album is to build bridges between different races, cultures and ethnicities.

Then it was time for Tasha to saaang….

If you look closely, you can see her hubby Kenneth Leonard, just behind her to the right, looking like he’s supervising everything…Photo Credit: Tonya Reeves & Michael Walker/UMeek Images

I like this photo because everyone’s hands are lifted up, but she is getting down…

Tasha Cobbs Leonard and Kierra Sheard. Kierra is featured on the song “Your Spirit.” So I kept looking around for Nicki Minaj, who is featured on “I’m Getting Ready,” but I guess she wasn’t there…Photo Credit: Tonya Reeves & Michael Walker/UMeek Images

 So this teenager or preteenager (The older I get, the harder it is for me to tell…) came up during the middle of the concert and pressed some money in Tasha’s hands….Obviously, she was moved…Photo Credit: Tonya Reeves & Michael Walker/UMeek Images

And even her fellow singers were moved…

A Holy Ghost dance…

Attorney Phaedra Parks, formerly of the “Real Housewives of Atlanta” was there and feeling it…See Pastor Kim of the “Preachers of Atlanta” behind her…

At the end of the concert, Tasha Cobbs Leonard gave an altar call and spoke about the purpose of her album….

Also in attendance were Jimi Cravity, Breona Lawrence, Anna Golden, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Catherine Brewton, Bishop Travis Jennings, Pastor John Gray, Aventer Gray, Y’Anna Crawley, Todd Galberth, Bryan Pierce and more. So I hope you feel like you were there at Tasha Cobbs Leonard’s album release party…

The highly anticipated album, HEART. PASSION. PURSUIT. (Motown Gospel), from multiple Stellar and Dove Award winner and, GRAMMY®-Award winning recording artist Tasha Cobbs Leonard, is available now in stores, and online everywhere.For more information about Tasha Cobbs Leonard visit:
Any thoughts?