Blending Gospel, R&B and Rap: Atlanta-Based Teachers, Gospel Group E21 United Receive Airplay in Southeast …

Hello World,

Blending gospel, R&B and rap, gospel group E21 United aims to “reach listeners where they are and lift them to a higher plateau,” says vocalist Yolanda Everett, through songs that “teach listeners about God’s eternal love for us and the love we should express to others.” One of those songs, “Lord You’ve Been So Good,” makes for the first single release by E21United, and is receiving airplay in the metropolitan Atlanta area and other markets in the Southeast. See the video for the single below…

E21 United, with roots in Atlanta, includes Yolanda Everett, her brother Charles Everett, also a vocalist, who produces, mixes and raps, and Christian rap artist Lonnie Edwards. In addition to music, the trio has another professional connection in common: Each is a teacher working in metro Atlanta school systems.

The group’s blend — that of two male members and one female member — makes for part of the reason behind the E21 United name, which, first and foremost, comes from scripture: Ephesians 2:1. Additionally, the number two represents the pair of siblings, Yolanda and Charles, while the number one represents Lonnie — and, as the group explains — if you add the numbers you’ll end up with three, which represents the Trinity of Father, Son and the Holy Spirit.

The E21 United sound, explains Yolanda, “leaves listeners wondering in which category the music should be placed. It’s not quite the traditional gospel sound,” she adds, “because it infuses rap and R&B laced with thick R&B beats that make you bob your head up and down because the music sounds and feels so good.”

That sound can be heard Sundays from 7 a.m. to noon on WPGN Radio Atlanta’s “Good News Gospel” hosted by veteran radio personality Twanda Black. Other stations include WFKX 96 KIX in Jackson, Tennessee, WSGE 91.7 FM in Dallas, North Carolina, and WMGY 800 AM/99.3 FM and WJIC Network Internet Radio, both in Montgomery, Alabama. It also had consistent airplay time on Atlanta’s WALR KISS 104.1 FM.

Having a love for music for much of their lives, E21 United members started early in music. Yolanda and Charles Everett and their younger sister Melanie began singing in church. Yolanda and Melanie later would audition for BET’s “Teen Summit” show. Out of thousands who’d submitted music, the sisters made the cut and while they didn’t win the competition, they found that it opened doors for them to “work with some really talented musicians and producers.” Charles Everett was part of an R&B group in Montgomery, Alabama, and over the years has provided production work for a number of musical artists. Lonnie Edwards began recording gospel music in 1998, and is a co-founder of Goodside, a Christian rap ministry based in the metropolitan Atlanta area. As a member of Goodside, he released three studio albums and ministered at hundreds of engagements throughout the Southeast. In 2018, he began recording and releasing solo projects.

Check out “Keep On Moving,” a song in which the COVID-19 pandemic is addressed, below…

As the group reflects on their respective evolutions, they also are in tune with the evolution of gospel music and where it stands today. “Gospel music is relevant today just as the gospel is relevant today,” said Yolanda Everett. “Gospel music addresses the issues and needs of humanity in a unique way. It speaks to the hurting, the broken and the bruised. In the times in which we now live, we’re all in need of uplifting, encouraging and inspiring messages of hope. Gospel music provides that and so much more.”

Any thoughts?

Seven Scriptures to Provide Insight to the Coronavirus Crisis (ODE to 20/20 Vision)

 

Hello World,

By now you must know that any vision board someone created for 2020 has been totally wrecked. I haven’t had 20/20 vision since before I was in the third grade when I started wearing glasses, but I was among those who decreed and declared that 2020 would be my Year of Perfect Vision. When this Coronavirus Crisis started a month ago or so, I thought my resolution to have 20/20 vision was misguided. But a month later, I see the Good Shepherd is faithful and guiding me (and all y’all)  into perfect vision after all — even if it wasn’t what I thought I saw at the dawn of this New Year. As my hubby shared with me, I do believe individually we will have personal insights, and that there are some collective insights that all of us will share. Below are seven insights tied to Bible scripture that I’ve had that are personal and collective. Let me know if you see what I’m seeing or if you have a different view in the comments.

1. At a visceral level, I now know no one can boast of his or her self-sufficiency.  I knew this intellectually, but babay, experience is the best teacher. In the Bible, Jeremiah 9:23, it says, “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches.” Yes, some of our richest are sheltering in place in yachts, but they still have to shelter in place while the country is shut down. Some of our strongest have gotten sick and or died during this Coronavirus Crisis. The wisest in our society have been confounded by COVID-19. I’ve read that it was initially thought that those with underlying conditions (cancer, diabetes, etc.) are more susceptible to COVID-19, but now, there is some debate as to what is considered an underlying condition! So whoop, there it is…

2. All people are needed for society to function. A Facebook friend shared that the number of selfies have decreased over the last month or so…And for good reason, I think…Have you seen some of these celebrities? Who knew that Diddy had so much gray hair?! His stylist did, undoubtedly. With all of us sheltering in place and social distancing, people aren’t getting their hair did and dyed. In Romans 12: 4-5, it says, “For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function,  so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given to each of us. ” Hairstylists matter! Their gifts are essential. In my opinion, they should be counted as essential workers, but I won’t belabor that point on today.

3. If you don’t spend your money, I can’t make my money. As a lover of words, I have helped financially support many many authors over the years. But truthfully, if some musicians waited on me to buy concert tickets to support themselves, they would go broke. I buy concert tickets like twice a year if that. And since people are sheltering in place and basically only buying groceries and paying for water, gas, etc., many have stopped making money. Again, I realized this intellectually but to see it play out is an eye opener for real. That’s that 20/20 vision. As the Bible says in 1 Timothy 6:17, “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment.” In other words, in the plain spoken words of OutKast, “If you don’t move your feet then I don’t eat, so we like neck-to-neck.” And I have paid a pretty penny to see them in concert 🙂

4. Debt is the devil, and saving is sanctified. According to news reports, many people have been financially ruined in the course of a month. I can’t evaluate anyone’s financial portfolio individually but you have to wonder if debt and a lack of savings has contributed to such swift falls. In Romans 13:8, it says, “Let no debt remain outstanding.” And in 1 Corinthians 16:2, it says, “each one of you should set aside a sum of money in keeping with your income, saving it up.” Financial experts recommend saving 3-6 months of your living expenses. It’s not easy, but it can be done. Ask God to direct you to a financial planner or coach who can teach you how to do it. I did, and her teaching continues to bless me 10 years later!

5. When I help you, I help me. One thing that has really struck me about the mandate to flatten the curve is that we’re primarily doing so to not overwhelm the healthcare industry with COVID-19 patients. However, but when we help the healthcare industry in this way, we are also helping ourselves. The fewer people who are sick means the less likely it will spread. Further down in Romans 13, verses 9-10, it says, “Love your neighbor as yourself.  Love does no harm to a neighbor.” Y’all help me, help you. Stay at home until God through the scientists recommends otherwise…

6. Being around other people encourages like nothing else. Y’all, I’m an introvert, and after a few hours around a lot of people, I have to retreat by myself. I start to feel overwhelmed almost like I’m an overloaded system that is stuck and can longer work. But now that our society has been sheltering in place, I’ve been fantasizing about going to street festivals. I cannot wait until I’m close enough to a bunch of people that I smell their sweat. Yes, I miss folks’ funk! LOL. And that’s why so many of us are meeting together via Zoom and other software to connect. It says in Hebrews 1o:25 to not stop “meeting together.” As an introvert, I do value and need time away from people but I also need to connect with people as well. 20/20 vision is becoming clear for this introvert.

7. Elders should be elevated. As the daughter of older parents, I already believed this, but this Coronavirus Crisis has forced us to take a hard look at how society sees our elders. Our elders are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and so we must make sure that we care for their well-being. And this is biblical. In Psalm 71:9, it says, “Do not cast me away when I am old; Do not forsake me when my strength is gone.” One day, if we’re lucky and blessed, we will be an elder and as I said earlier, when I help an elder, I’m actually helping myself. If we do this thing right, elders will be elevated as they should be.

So that’s all I got for now, but here’s a song to encourage me and you…

And this song is Scriptural too…

“The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever.” 1 John 2:17

Any thoughts?

 

 

Bible Gateway Online Bible Study ‘The Path to the Cross’ Offers Virtual Travel to Israel for Easter!

Hello World,

Happy Easter! He Is Risen! We Are Saved! As a Bible Gateway blogger grid member, I was offered the opportunity to review The Path to the Cross Online Bible Study with Ray Vander Laan, a web-based video course filmed on location in Qumran, Machaerus, En Gedi, Jerusalem, and Gethsemane!

By witnessing each historical site, the five-video study helps shape a picture of Jesus and His world in the context of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. It examines Jesus’ temptation in the desert where He, like Israel, was tested and prepared for His mission to the world. It considers the events of the Last Supper against the backdrop of the exodus experience. And along with Israel’s history of sacrifice, it explores the atoning act of Jesus on the cross.

I must say as an American, I’m a comfortable Christian. I live in a temperature-controlled home in a reasonably safe suburb off of a street that has at least four churches. However, I choose to drive to my home church which is about a thirty-minute trip. I’m pointing out these parameters to demonstrate that living as a Christian in America doesn’t require that much sacrifice or discomfort. However, when you watch these videos filmed in the locations where Jesus and the disciples and the people of that time period lived, you see that those who followed Jesus Christ at that time had to sacrifice and were uncomfortable.

I need that reminder because although the Bible is very descriptive, the additional aid of seeing the Holy Land provides another perspective. (I so hope to travel there some day!) To be a Christian is and should be costly. It should require sacrifice. And serving God is not always comfortable.

Below is information about each video as well as a way to buy this study which works well individually, for small groups and for churches of varied sizes.

Sessions

Path to the Cross, Session 1, The Way of the Essenes

Duration: 28:11

In Session 1, The Way of the Essenes, you will learn what was most important to the Essenes and how they chose to live, as well as what you can take from their way of life to help you center yourself on God.

Path to the Cross, Session 2, The Way of John the Baptist

Duration: 29:09

In Session 2, The Way of John the Baptist, you will learn how God set apart John the Baptist to strengthen him in spirit to deliver His message and announce Jesus.

Path to the Cross, Session 3, Into the Desert to be Tested

Duration: 30:17

In Session 3, Into the Desert to be Tested, you will learn that just as God tested Jesus in the desert, Jesus tested His disciples, and He will test you.

Path to the Cross, Session 4, The Last Passover

Duration: 31:55

In Session 4, The Last Passover, you will discover the significance of the last supper, the details of the dinner, and what Jesus was revealing to His followers through it.

Path to the Cross, Session 5, The Fifth Cup: Our Way of Hope

Duration: 28:38

In Session 5, The Fifth Cup: Our Way of Hope, you will discover the bitter cup of God’s wrath that Jesus took on your behalf and the true sacrifice it was.

Using research of top scholars in the fields of archaeology, history, and biblical study, historian and bestselling author Ray Vander Laan has guided more than 10,000 people on in-depth study tours of the Holy Land. His teaching ministry is focused on understanding the Bible keeping in mind the historical and cultural context in which God placed it.

For more about about The Path to the Cross Online Bible Study with Ray Vander Laan, go to studygateway.com. 

Any thoughts?