ROOT Magazine Issue 33

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Issue 33 31

Apr/May 2020






movie on their life, entitled: The First Ladies of Gospel, is sure to be a hit amongst gospel music fans and beyond and I must say, no one else is more deserving of a biopic than The Clark Sisters and I am so of Root Magazine. To make this more of a family affair, Kierra and she gets very candid about how Lifetime biopic, her favorite era of music, the pros and cons of having her own clothing line, her new music and more! As people of faith, we tend to ask God to In the instance of health, there are many

Editor's Note Greetings, Welcome to Issue 33 of Root Magazine. Over the years I’ve got the chance to interview a plethora of Gospel Artist but the clock sisters are just any type of Gospel Artist they are royalty, Gospel royalty if you will. I remember interviewing all of them on a BMI red carpet event and I was so nervous that I don’t even remember what I said. Throughout the years I’ve gotten a chance to interview all of the ladies individually and Dorinda has graced the cover of Root some years ago. But there is something about when Jacky, Dorinda, Twinkie and Karen are all together as one unit that make them larger than life. Speaking of life, the highly anticipated

church, who are overweight, overworked and unhappy. In a special feature entitled: The WEIGHT of Ministry, Pastor Hilton Rawls uncovers the twofold weight of ministry that is carried by so many men and women of the cloth. Healthy lifestyles in Christendom is far and few in between and we hope this article starts a much needed conversation about food and faith. Also in this issue, 20 of today’s emerging conversation with Isaac Carree, The Evolution of Kanye West is discussed and Lashawn Daniels is remembered. Thank you for supporting Root Magazine for 11 years! Love, Live Life! E-mail: Instagram & Twitter: @ROOTMAGAZINE Facebook: ROOT MAGAZINE

Editor-In-Chief: Hasan James Senior Art Director Fatima Burke Contributors Michael Gordon Shadé Newkirk Chloe Vanderpoole Meta Washington David Williams J.S. Williams Jr Editors Kayla Johnson Amari Smith Jya Turner Photography Steve Ackerman Allen Cooley Jackie Hicks Alexander Lejo Simon Muchnik Stephen Reid DeWayne Rogers Jeremiah Sabado Alan Silfen ShotbySed Management Shawn Gibbs for The Firm Artist Management Sales & Marketing Ricardo Cantrell Kenneth Boyd Printing Shweiki Media

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IN THIS ISSUE KIERRA SHEARD ...................................... 06 KANYE WEST ............................................. 11 TEXTING WITH ISAAC ......................... 12 FLIP SIDE:

THE BENEDICTION .................................. 26 THE CLARK SISTERS ............................... 25 TOP 20 EMERGING ARTISTS .............. 18 THE WEIGHT OF MINISTRY .............. 15

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Root: Like your current single states, there’s so much happening for you right now. What do you love most about being an artist? Kierra: What I love most about being an artist is being able to connect with people and provide a solution through art, which for me is through my gift of singing and ultimately being able to provide that with the gospel. I’ve seen what the gospel has done in my life and as I developed, it has allowed me to unlock scriptures and watch certain things manifest in my life, while providing young people who got to witness God’s hand on my life. Being able to give that as a solution through music is honestly what challenges me to dig deeper and holds me accountable. I don’t just take it as,“Oh, I’m doing my thing, I am Kierra Sheard”! Being an artist is actually very humbling. I’m not perfect, what I do in my private life. I want to make sure that everything across the board is the same. Therefore, there are many things I get out of being an artist, but I would say that touching the lives of people that I’ve never met and seeing how it actually affects them is just so beautiful to me. A great example is when I did a tour stop in Japan and they didn’t speak English, but someone gave me a wrote in the card: “I don’t know what it is about your music, but there’s a light, I have answers and I feel a light in your music”. Of course I knew what it was but because their nation practices Buddhism, she probably couldn’t explain it if she was not introduced to Christ. I get a kick out of those types of experiences! Root: It is crazy to think that you dropped your debut album over 15 years ago. Do you feel like you still have something to prove as an artist? Kierra: I do feel like I have something to prove because I’m not where I want to be yet as far as my artistry. This is now, of course according to God’s will, the breaking point for me. I think that a lot of people that grew up with me embraced me at a young age because we were all young and they were able to connect with me, but now we’re all older in our 20’s, 30’s and 40’s, so now its “Can you keep going?” and “Can we still ride out with you? I don’t think anything has been handed to me and I still have to work for everything that I have. Even with The

First Ladies of Gospel movie coming out, although I’m portraying my mom, I still had to audition for the part. The Bible says, “Don’t take anything lightly and everything that you do, do to the glory of the Lord.” Root: You are not considered as your typical gospel artist. Do you think that you have been put in a box? Kierra: I 100% feel like that I have been put in a box and it is unfortunate. Not long ago, I was watching Sunday Best and Kirk Franklin said to one of the contestants,“I’m very sorry for this box that we put on gospel music overall because unfortunately the gospel community has a hard time appreciating different levels of creativity. We think a holler or a squall determines your success in gospel music”. I think that there was so much truth to that because you have so many young people who are completely talented, and some of them may feel like they want to do gospel and sing about Jesus, but they may also want to sing about a relationship that they’ve had and how the Lord told them not to get into it, but this type of creativity is limited in gospel music. So I don’t think that the box is just on me, it has been a box on many of us because some people may think I can only do worship music. If I had a different engine behind the single Don’t Judge Me with Missy Elliot, the world would have accepted it more than what the gospel community did. However, there are many people in the gospel community who make sure that they are at a Beyoncé concert and those same people listen to artist like Summer Walker. So what worries me is if our teens and young adults have the gift but may not necessarily be able to holler or squall, they may feel like the gospel community won’t accept them. last project and I must say I am very excited about this next project. I love the whole roll out with the visuals and even the current single, “It Keeps Happening”. Why did you name this album simply, Kierra? Kierra: Honestly, I didn’t feel like thinking of a title (laughter). I have so many things going on. But to answer your question, the album is really me. I’m just gonna be me and even when people put me in a

give the people what they want. There’s a song on the album called The Things You Do and originally I was singing the word “Baby” on the song but we took it off because I’m talking about Jesus and the things you (Jesus) do. I’m saying things like “You make me feel like a secure woman and you’re not intimidated by the life that I live or the work that I do.” It’s against the grain and don’t get me wrong, I love church songs, but this record is me and it really embodies who I am. Root: I think your brother, J. Drew Sheard, is one of the most underrated producers in the game. Why do you continue to collaborate with him after all of these years? Kierra: My brother has been such a blessing to me and it’s funny you ask that because I’ve been very honest lately and I feel like over the years, so many people have just doubted us and didn’t want us to have certain things because of who our family is and they wanted to make sure that things weren’t easily given to us. But my brother and I stuck to it and worked hard and it’s just a blessing to see the listeners realize that we’ve been staying true to who we are and continued putting out heat. The other day somebody posted one of my favorite songs from one of my old records and I realized how young we really were. Sometimes it’s just the journey that you have to go through, but my brother is my heart and I underrated. This music that he’s getting ready to put out on The Clark Sisters is absolutely amazing! I am so proud of my brother. I’m proud of him sticking to his guns and doing his music, his way. He’s an all around incredible person and a dope soul. He has always believed in me and has been my biggest fan even when I doubted myself. My brother is a self taught musician and taught himself how to play every instrument and always tries to educate himself on the music business. He doesn’t expect any handouts and he works very hard, so he just inspires me. I can’t stop doing music with my brother because I feel like I put out my best music when he and I collaborate. Even when I’m singing, I perform at my best when my brother is on the drums and every time he tries to give up the drums, I encourage him not to. I just need my brother around when we are doing music. I’m not married yet, but he’s like my musical soul mate.

sure I’m being my true authentic self and ROOT | 7

Root: So he’s like the Batman to your Robin? Kierra: Yes he is! Root: The Clark Sisters biopic (The First Ladies of Gospel) that will be airing on Lifetime is one of the most anticipated movies of the year. Was there any pressure portraying your mom in the movie? Kierra: It was a lot of pressure because my mom is a vocal beast! We call so many people the “vocal bible” but my mom is really like a vocal bible to me. She’s a true soprano…one night I was sleeping and listening to my mom in my headphones because I really wanted to embody her and didn’t want to take it for granted that she was my mom. I automatically have her mannerisms and things of that nature so it would automatically be believable but I really wanted to embody everything about her. I wanted to sound like her. I wanted to give off her spirit. My mom is such a beautiful, strong and graceful woman. My friend Shamika calls her the “quiet storm” because she’s so soft but she comes in like “I’m here though”! When we were in the studio, Uncle Donald (Donald Lawrence) told me that he needed me to sing soprano and I told him I needed help and that I couldn’t hit those notes like my mom! I was literally getting light headed and everything and he allowed me to take breaks in between takes and he really encouraged me and made it a healthy challenge for me. So I went from singing in that register for the movie to singing higher on my actual performances. Root: Did you learn anything new movie? Kierra: I learned so much about my grandmother. Before she passed, I had a chance to spend time with her when her leg was amputated and I remember being super close to her and always wanting to be around her. I was very young, yet I always wanted to be around this petite old lady in a wheelchair. We would watch soap operas and eat tomatoes together, but there was a different side of her that so many people talked about as far as her strength and her being so particular with music and having a passion for living like something while you’re singing the gospel. The accountability that she gave The Clark Sisters was all around inspiring, and even 8 | ROOT

learning what she had gone through in her marriages and then to come home and almost kind of have to battle with her daughter, as well as battle with the men in the church, it brought tears to my eyes. Even in all of that, she didn’t let anything stop her and her name still lives on today. There’s a movie out about her while she’s gone, so when you talk about legacy, you talk about Mattie Moss Clark. I also learned a lot about my Aunt Twinkie’s story. OMG, she pressed on and it explains why she thinks the way she does now and why she’ll just go on hiatus for a period of time. I understand because she was on a road with my grandmother for so many years as a teenager well into her twenties. We are twenties but she was with her mom and constantly trying to channel something new, as far as a new song or a new note, and then she had to look after her sisters. At one point, she sold part of her catalog for a Cadillac and my grandmother went crazy. You will see how it all plays out in the movie. It’s so good! Root: I know you’ve done some acting in the past, but this was probably the most you’ve been on screen and it sounds like it was the most challenging. Could you see yourself being a full on actress? Do you have the acting bug? Kierra: I would love to do more acting. I think that there was a different level of spiritual warfare happening this time around for me though. I’m not afraid of gotta go through that again, then I don’t want to do this ever again.” However, my spirit man said if I have to go through it again, I’m ready for it if something positive comes through me acting. Overall it was fun and I would do it again. In fact, I would love to be a big plus size Root: That would actually be pretty dope and is a perfect segue to my next question regarding your Eleven60 clothing line. Talk to us about that, your partnership with Macy*s and where you see the brand in the next Kierra: I want Eleven60 to be big! There is so much that goes into merchandising and I need the budget to outsource a particular part of the brand. The line is available on Macy*s website and I would love for it to eventually be in Macy*s stores across the country. I would love

to connect with some manufacturers in Italy and Korea. We’ve partnered with some people in China, but it all has to do years, I see us doing really well, being making sales. Quite honestly, I need a retail marketer who really knows about fashion merchandising, not someone who knows how to market music. Hopefully within the next few years, I will have that component as part of the brand so that will just catapult Eleven60 to the next level. My dream is for my clothing linnet be like a plus sized Zara, edgy with a good feel and good price point. Root: What I love about you is that you embrace all types of music. What do you think the best era of music is? Kierra: Oh man, that’s a good question! I want to say the 90’s, but I was listening to Stevie Wonder the other day and he is just an amazing artist. Isn’t he considered 80’s? Root: Stevie was big in the 70’s and 80’s, but his music actually covers a few decades. Kierra: I would have to go with the 90’s because I’m sure if you gave me a catalog of 90’s music I would know all of the songs. We were actually talking about this the other day because I was thinking too myself, how old was I singing 112’s Peaches and Cream? I had no clue what they were talking about, yet I knew all the words. That whole SWV and Bad Boy era was relatable to me because these people were singing like me and what I knew but they were singing it their way. That’s actually what inspired me to want to have a different sound in gospel music. All of the church kids that I was around knew the 90’s music, so why not give them some music that they could ride out too that even their friends who don’t necessarily go to church can enjoy. Root: What are you afraid of? Kierra: I’m afraid of losing my family. My parents, my grandparents, my brother, if anything happened to any of those people, I don’t know what I would do. It almost makes me teary eyed just thinking about it. The other thing that I’m afraid of is marrying the wrong person.

The new single written and produced by Devory Pugh entitled “The System” is definitely a recap of songs written against social and economic injustice in our country back in the day. This song and its lyrics, groove and sound is powerful and relevant. We definitely need more songs like this to keep us socially and economically aware and empowered. This is a millennial hit… —Hezekiah Walker Ironically the latest single from Devory Pugh entitled “The System,” goes against the political system which is mainstream radio, however, it’s content is relevant, thought provoking and timely, as it pertains to the state of our country. This song is necessary! —Hasan James Radio Announcer and Editor-In-Chief of Root Magazine

Devory L. Pugh (feat. C. Anthony Bryant & J. Kelly) “The System” Available on all digital platforms!



The Evolution of Kanye West By David Quinones Let’s take this time to celebrate this music legend who undoubtedly has always given his devotion to Jesus Christ by demanding in prayer that Jesus Walks in brand Christian proclamation. In 2004, the song debuted on his first studio album, “The College Dropout”. The mind of a man who passionately challenged all fashion trends and styled a brand of shoe affectionately called “The Yeezy.” Even with all of that success, he still confessed that Jesus Is King! From music to fashion, Kanye Omari West has been a staple in the industry for over 20 years. The entrepreneur, rapper, singer, record producer, songwriter, fashion designer and now full fledged gospel artist, has produced hits for the likes of Beyoncé, Jay Z, John Legend, Common, Jamie Foxx, Rihanna, Alicia Keys, Janet Jackson and many others. Kanye has been a musical force to be reckoned with for almost two decades, but we don’t really want to get into who Kanye was in the old days that made you think about dropping out of college and the fast life with jewelry, clothes and hoes. Nah, in this season we are excited about his deliverance and who he has become in Jesus name. Kanye’s net worth is over a quarter billion dollars due to his

It reminds me of the story of a group of Scribes and Pharisees confronting Jesus while at the Mount of Olives about the woman who committed adultery, and was caught in the act. We know the story about the people so busy trying to get Jesus to look down on the woman who sinned that they forgot their own. They asked Jesus if the punishment for someone like her should be stoning as prescribed by the mosaic law in the times of Moses. Jesus was raw with it though, acting like he didn’t hear them. But the accusers kept pushing and Jesus stood up and stated,“He who is without sin is the one who should cast the first stone.” All of the people that were there departed, realizing that not one of them was without sin.

stake in music, fashion and real estate, yet he still has the mind to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord! Being a fan of Kanye West in the early years, I saw the transformation of Kanye go from hard core rapper/producer with a huge ego and persona to match to a full fledged spiritual and inspirational Ambassador for Christ. The ego is still there, but isn’t that what makes Kanye, Kanye? Besides none of us are perfect and there is something about everyone on God’s green earth that isn’t totally pleasing in his sight. However, the true and living God of salvation is who Christ is in Ye’s life now. Now this is not to say that he still doesn’t rub

The Jesus Is King project is a phenomenal collection of music that brings me back to my early walk with Christ. Its pure exhortation and praise to our Lord and Savior is current, yet still pays homage to gospel music that was once considered contemporary, but is now looked at as traditional. Go figure! One of my favorite song is the soulful Hands On, featuring Fred Hammond and albeit a snippet, the choir filled Every Hour featuring the Sunday Service Choir is enough to get your musical palate watering and yearning for more. Little did we know that two months later, we would get a special gift on a very appropriate Christmas Day, with the release of Jesus is Born, a full album full of nostalgic gospel gems, courtesy of the Sunday Service Choir and not a peep from Mr. West. Kanye is no doubt a man that has experienced many high and lows, both personally and professionally, but it’s clear that even through the trials, he has seemed to turn them into triumphs through a God that he has always

“...from hard core rapper/producer with a huge ego and persona to match to a full fledged spiritual and inspirational Ambassador for Christ.” people the wrong way, especially as it pertains to his political affiliations with one of the most controversial men in the world, President Donald Trump. Mr. West has been scrutinized for his connection to Trump and for proudly wearing that MAGA (Make America Great Again) hat, however, there are many African American pastors who support #45 and they still have full churches, so is there much of a difference? Kanye was affectionately explaining his voting choice when the majority of minorities all over America despised him for it.

acknowledged. He has even proclaimed that he will no longer do any music other than gospel music but even if he decides to go back to popular music, who are we to judge? How many times have we gone back on our word? A close source to Root Magazine said that Kanye spends upwards of $2 million a month to move the Sunday Service choir around, doing pop up services around the world, and anyone who does that must be serious about their walk with Christ. Right?

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I have known Issac Carree for 25 years now and although I am a huge fan of his, we are also good friends. Most people don’t talk on the phone anymore, they text and that is what Isaac and I did when I interviewed him about his new album and what he’s been doing since he released new music seven years ago! By Hasan James

Yes man it’s been seven years and it was a journey! I literally felt myself become a little disgruntled and a little uncomfortable with the place that I was in. I had to get my heartbeat right and get my passion back man. I was then able to utilize that time to spend with my family and travel the world and see some things outside of gospel. I’m so glad to be back doing music again man! Your latest single HER is pretty dope and so far to the left of anything else we hear, especially on gospel radio. Why did you come back after so long with a song like that as opposed to a regular gospel song? Yeah man as you know the album is entitled No Risk, No Reward, so even when I was recording the songs I already had in my mind I wanted to take a risk and do something different. In the seven years that I haven’t had music out, I was literally paying attention to the music that was being recorded in gospel and I saw gospel music really shifting more towards praise and worship and I think that’s dope, but I also felt there was a void out there. I also wanted to challenge myself, the listening audience and song the celebrated my wife and I wanted other men to make this song the anthem for their girl! 2019 was a seesaw year for you. You released a new song that people are receptive to, you got your own radio show on Kirk Franklin’s Praise on SIRIUS called Good Vibes, but you also lost your good friend Lashawn Daniels. ...

some highs but I had a whole lot of lows and it was rough. I dropped my single HER and I also got my radio show on SiriusXM, Good Vibes with Isaac Carree ,but not only did I lose Lashawn Daniels, one of my closest friends, I also lost my biological father. Then to make matters worse coming into 2020 losing Kobe Bryant just shook me! So, I’m in a place now where I’m very intentional about letting people know I love them and asking for forgiveness if I need to be forgiven and forgiving people that hurt me. Life is a vapor and I won’t live another day taking it for granted so yeah to answer your question 2019 was one of the hardest years of my life.

Lakers and Kobe fan. Absolutely bro! Man that one shook me it was so surreal I couldn’t believe it and I’m still having a hard time believing it and to make matters worse, his daughter and other people were killed as well. Just to think that his wife Vanessa had to pick out two caskets and carry that that pain of being a single mom of three daughters was something that really shook me. And it also opened up that wound of dealing with Lashawn all over again for me. So it has really been rough man.

was very intimidating. How has the process been for you? Honestly, radio for me has been fun! I did it before and I really enjoyed it, so when I got the opportunity to be on Kirk Franklin’s Praise with my own show and have the liberty and the freedom to make the show feel like me, I’ve had an amazing time doing it. We’re just getting started and we have a long way to go, but I’m excited! My approach to satellite radio is a little different then terrestrial radio. 12 | ROOT

Yes, the new album No Risk No Reward! I’m super excited after not having music out for seven years. The music is fresh, innovative, exciting, different, and hopefully refreshing. Seven years with no new music, I had to make sure it was special. You don’t take off that long and come back doing the same thing you were doing before you left, so I had to shake it up and I pray that people give it a chance. Any features, collaborators, producers? Come on man give us the juice! Lol Lol... OK so it was produced by Black Elvis and Red Kulture. Also I teamed back up with Gerald Haddon and Rodney East produced a track so that’s the producers. Features: Lisa Knowles & The Brown Singers, Da T.R.U.T.H., Gene Moore, Zacardi Cortez, Jason Nelson, & Eric Dawkins all on one song! CRAZINESS! We did Commissioned Ordinary Just Won’t Do! So needless to say it’s a crazy amazing body of work! Yes! I appreciate the exclusives! The music industry has changed so much since your days with

It’s my passion man! I’ve been gifted and called to do this and I actually still LOVE doing it! The business side of it can sometimes make it hard to want to continue but when you love something you

you’re having fun and I’ve been having so much fun! Even through my ups and my downs it’s all been fun man and I’ve seen a lot but I have no complaints.

Thx for your time bro! We go way back and I’m always ROOTING for you. No pun intended lol

Man thank you so much for this opportunity bro I love you man and I always support you and your magazine man. You’ve always supported me man and we are family and nothing will change that I love you so much man!

Photographer: Alex D. Rogers Thx bro

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The WEIGHT of Ministry By Hilton Rawls Jr. The church is still a beacon of hope and a trusted organization in the African American community. Even in times where there Americans still maintain a strong belief in God and some semblance of a religious lifestyle. Our community looks to its leaders for not just spiritual matters alone, but in a myriad of other areas. African Americans look to their leaders for counsel engagement and personal problems. It is assumed that because of the pastor’s respected position as a spiritual authority that they are also disciplined when it comes to matters of health. However, that is not the case. Clergy, as a result of the nature of their work, deal with even greater challenges associated with living healthy more than what the common population deals with. A recent study among African American pastors found that the inability of leaders to set boundaries and proper time management, leaves them open to the perception that they are available 24 hours a day; seven days a week has and this perception has adversely affected the way they take care of themselves. Given the health status of pastors, the connection between pastoral identity and their diets is a place of considerable interest. Being a pastor is a high demand and high pressure calling that on many occasions had negative effects; physically, mentally and emotionally on those in the profession. role model and motivator to those they have been given divine charge over. Many pastors have made an effort to follow a proper balanced diet, but because of demanding schedules and the 24/7 on call job, the ability to eat healthy meals get diminished and they are reduced to eating late at night or meals on the go. In the African American church community at large, the eating identify must be addressed. In that tradition, food is a love language. The “Mothers, Saints and Friends” on the “Kitchen Committee” all looked to communicate their love and affection for their leader with food. Folks from admiration for their beloved leader with food as gifts to take home after church. Homemade cakes, pies, cobblers, greens with smoked meat, fried chicken, potato salad and ham, all become an important way to connect with congregants. “Pastor, did you try my corn pudding?” “Pastor did you try my celebration dinner, the higher they pack the plate, the more they love their Pastor! The problem is, these traditional African American southern diets were known in the past as survival food. Our ancestors were not given access to balanced nutritious food during 15 | ROOT

slavery, so they took the scraps (organ meat and parts of slaughtered livestock that others dare not consume), along with vegetables they would grow themselves and turn into the delicacies and world renowned cuisines we enjoy today. There is an increasing concern for the healing status of clergy in light of climbing rates of obesity and chronic disease. African Americans in particular, typically have higher rates of heart disease and bad behavior patterns as compared to our white counterparts. It is logical to assume that the same is true about African American pastors, both men and women. serve: preacher, teacher, healer, administrator, worship leader, other things. It is virtually impossible to carry out all of these responsibilities successfully on an on call schedule without some “reasonable portion of health and strength,” as the elders would say. Many pastors suffer with weight/obesity, diabetes, arthritis and high cholesterol. The health behaviors of our pastors must change to the degree that they themselves demonstrate healthy behaviors that shift the overall health and weight of those who they lead and who hold them in high regard.

4 PASTOR MUST DO’S Must see their health care professional regularly and complete health related screenings. Must consume a daily dose of fruit and vegetables. Must engage in moderate to vigorous amounts of physical activity. Being busy is not to be equated with physical activity. walk Begin to gradually partake in diets that leave out fatty foods and begin incorporating food that is

Improving the health of our African American pastors and supporting them in making healthy choices is key. Leaders need to be strengthened in their ability to deal with their many church responsibilities and the need to care for themselves. Hilton Rawls Jr is the Pastor of Greater Grace Church in

The word Emerging is a verb and it means to become apparent, important, prominent or known. It has become apparent that the artists on this list are most important, and have some level of prominence. Some have been grinding in the background; writing songs, singing in groups, singing in competitions, while others simply waited for their time to shine. by Hasan James

RICH TOLBERT, JR. He is probably one of the most experienced artists on the list, having been nominated for a number of Stellar Awards with his former group Livré. He is also one of the most sought after singers and songwriters in Gospel music. As the pen behind JJ 01 Hairston’s Miracle Worker, he has also celebrated major success with the release of his current single Never Be Defeated, which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Gospel Digital Song Chart. EDWRIN SUTTON As the latest signee to Kerry Douglas’ Black Smoke Records, Bronx New York pastor turned artist, Edwrin Sutton, is set to make great waves in the new decade. His latest single, I Hear Rain, was written by Sutton and produced by Stellar nominated artist 02 Demetrius West, and is currently in the Top 30 on the Billboard Gospel charts. Although a millennial, Sutton still manages to maintain his old school upbringing; making for a perfect mixture of a classic and current sound. ANTHONY PONDER & MINISTRY’S DESIRE Anthony Ponder & Ministry’s Desire is a collective of talented, seasoned vocalists. Impeccable blends, strong delivery and unique tones complete the presentation of the Jersey City, NJ based group. The Billboard charting ensemble has not even scratched 03 the surface, yet they have made an indelible impression in the Northeast and Southern regions. Their current single, Favor, features legendary “Girl Director” Natalie Wilson, and made a moderate impact at radio in 2019. 2020 is going to be huge year for Anthony and Company, as they will be releasing new music with a major label. ADRIANN LEWIS FREEMAN Undoubtedly one of the most accomplished artist on this list, Adriann, along with her sister, Aundrea, are the founders of the gospel duo RiZen. RiZen has recorded three albums, all hitting the Billboard charts at numbers 28, 6, and 3, respectfully. They’re 04 also the recipients of two Stellar Awards, several Dove Awards Nominations, and other countless awards for their musical and anointed vocals. As a solo artist, Adriann currently has three singles in the Top 40: Joy Bells, Prayer Changes Things and You Been So Good.


DARIUS PAULK As one of gospel music’s premiere songwriters, Darius Paulk is an ASCAP Award winning songwriter who has written top charting Billboard hit songs for gospel artists such as: Donnie McClurkin, JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise, Zacardi Cortez, Tamela and VaShawn Mitchell on his biggest hit to date, Nobody Greater, which was recorded in 2010 and

become a solo artist, as his debut single Strong Name is steadily climbing up the Billboard charts, prompting his Malaco Records debut, Strong to fair in the Top 15 on Billboard’s Gospel album chart. PASTOR MIKE JR. Hailing from Birmingham, Alabama, Pastor Mike,Jr. has become somewhat of a big deal on the gospel music scene. Speaking of Big hit single on BlackSmoke Records) is currently in the Top 5 on Billboard’s Indicator chart; making it a 06 radio favorite. His album, Live Free, debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Gospel Album Chart last fall. Pastor Mike is also looking to win Big at this year’s Stellar Awards, as he has been MELVIN CRISPELL III His late father wrote chart topping songs like Wonderful is Your Name and Jesus is My Help for Hezekiah Walker and his late mother was the songbird of James Hall Worship & Praise. Needless to say, Melvin Crispell III has music running through 07 his veins. The Season 9 Sunday Best Winner is busy working on his debut album, as well as watch his latest single Without You not only climb up the charts, but also be included on streaming platform, Pandora’s, Christian and Gospel Artists to Watch in 2020 Playlist! TYLER LITTLE


Season 6 of BET’s Sunday Best. Behind the scenes, Little has been busy singing as well as acting in the hit stage play “REDEMPTION,” where he starred alongside Grammy® winner Le’Andria Johnson, Joe Black of “Empire” and anointed songstress, Chrystal Rucker. Not leaving the music behind, he has also

released the mid-tempo, We Come To Praise Him, which made it to the Top 10 on Billboard and was written by award-winning songwriter Travis Malloy. ROOT | 18


MELISSA BETHEA prominence on Hezekiah Walker’s Souled Out project on the song There’s No Way, and as one of Praise and Worship leader, Melissa prides herself as being the vessel that God uses to usher in the spirit, as she birthed Chabod Institute, an anointed learning environment for intense, hands-on training in the area of praise I Owe It All, is a testament to her life of a worshipper in heart, mind and spirit.


JASON MCGEE & THE CHOIR Known in the West Coast simply as “the choir for hire,” Jason McGee & The Choir calls Super Producer, Warryn Campbell’s My Block Inc home Aside from collaborating with artists like Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, John Legend among 10 others, they’ve since recorded their live debut album, in addition to releasing two hit singles, Promises (which has been named by Billboard as one of the top added Gospel songs to radio in 2018) and Never Let You Go. Their current single It’s Not Over is divergent from their previous offerings, but is a heartfelt ballad that encourages the listener to “keep going, keep believing and to keep living.” LAMONT SANDERS New Jersey native, Lamont Sanders, has a new radio single with a simple, yet powerful message for the masses! Lamont offers All That I Have (One God), which is currently # 4 - pushing for the #1 spot on the Billboard Indicator. His latest album entitled He’s A Keeper was released in February 2020 and includes writing and production from the best of the best like: Fred Jerkins, Adam Blackstone, Dana Sorey,


Haddon. DR. JAMES MABLE, JR. It’s hard to believe that over a decade ago, James Mable, Jr. had to literally learn how to walk again as a result of a near fatal car accident. But James not only learned how to walk again, he obtained his Doctorate degree and in January 2019, Dr. music industry legend, Greg “Uncle G” Lyons and Uncle G Records. In March of that same year, he wowed thousands of fans on social media as he auditioned for a coveted BGV position in conjunction with a contest that chose the best background vocalists across the country for Root Magazine’s 10th Anniversary celebration in Las Vegas. In July of 2019, Dr. I’m Free, which charted on

the Billboard Gospel Digital Sales Chart at #17 two weeks after it was released. JOSH COPELAND Sunday Best Season 9 runner-up, Josh Copeland, is what you would call a singer of singers! As one of the lead vocalist of DMV area ensemble, Charles 13 Butler and Trinity, Copeland is most known for his dynamic vocals on the song The Blood. Most recently, the Salisbury native, Husband and Father, paid homage to The Winans on his latest single, Uphold Me, which was made famous by the quartet in 1984. Copeland, however, was not at all intimidated by the vocal prowess of the great Marvin Winans, he instead made the song his own without compromising the eighties classic and earned a plethora of fans while doing it. VINCENT BOHANAN & SOV Even without a full length project, Brooklyn bred singer, songwriter and choir director, Vincent Bohanan, has already made a huge impact on 14 the gospel industry, and has a few Stellar Award nominations to prove it. His aggregation of singers, Sounds of Victory or (SOV) are energetic, flashy, charismatic and command the stage wherever they go. The single, We Win, is a will win!” Their Live recording session in Chicago was a SOLD OUT event that featured choir music reminiscent of the 80’s and 90’s, and will be ZAK WILLIAMS AND 1/A


a decade, however, the year 2019 proved to be a breakout year for the choir straight outta the “City of Brotherly Love.” An avid promoter of choir music and the choir sound, Zak is the creator of “Choir Storm Live” and “Sing Y’all,” concert series dedicated to keeping choir music alive. Last

Enon Music Group (EMG) and released the highly anticipated album,The Next Chapter. The result: two singles, Unpredictable God and He Reigns, in addition to a Stellar Award nomination in the Traditional Choir of the Year category. KEYLA RICHARDSON Keyla Richardson may be small in stature but her voice is inviolable, to say the least. The 22 year old


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to being a great mom and her passion for singing, she loves God and ministry, and seeks to change and empower lives throughout her community and

with Uncle G Records and at Root Magazine press time, her latest single,

So Good, peaked at #9 on the Billboard Gospel TITUS SHOWERS Titus Showers embarked on his solo career in 2019 and released his debut EP WHO? to 17 consumer and critical acclaim in May 2019. The project debuted at No.1 on Billboard Top Gospel Albums, No.1 on Nielsen Top Gospel Albums, No.4 on Billboard Top Independent Albums, No.18 on Billboard Emerging Artist chart, and No. 40 on Billboard all-genre Top Albums chart, making it the highest gospel album sales debut by any gospel act and the highest gospel album sales and charting debut by a musical act at the time of its release. The 7-track project boasts an all-star lineup of composers, producers, songwriters and featured guest artists. GRAMMY®-nominated producer and songwriter Lucius B. Hoskins (Shirley Caesar, Zacardi Cortez, Joshua Rogers) contributed on four of the EP’s seven tracks, It’s Gonna Be Alright, Make It, Amen and the Billboard Top 10 digital track and lead single In His Name. LENA BYRD MILES Lena Byrd Miles is one of the rising gospel singers


continue the rich and beautiful tradition, started by her mentors (the Hawkins family) of Gospel

of the most exciting and unique singers of our time, Miles caught the attention of multiple Grammy Award winning producer and President of My Block Inc., Warryn Campbell. Warryn, along with his wife, 5x Grammy Award winning singer-songwriter, and national radio personality, Erica This Is The Day and All I Need

the rising stars in Gospel music. THE GROUP FIRE The Group Fire has been compared to groups like: Commissioned, The Williams Brothers and The Jacksons and in the tradition of moving forward 19 many see them as the new vanguard for gospel. In 2018, Group Fire was nominated for a Stellar Award for Quartet of the Year for their project Join the Praise Party. This project catapulted them onto the main stage in gospel music. As a result, the fellas have worked closely with producer Steve Cooper and followed up with their Top 20 Billboard charting hit single, Again, from their forthcoming project entitled Heal the Land.


JERARD & JOVAUN Currently worship leaders at the multi-cultural Bethesda Church (Ft. Worth, TX), Jerard &

go-to background and session singers for over two decades, working with industry heavyweights like BeBe and CeCe Winans, Natalie Grant, Donnie McClurkin, Michael W. Smith and Yolanda Adams. The husband and wife duo steadily built an online presence with their stand-out performance videos of worship songs and hymns. Their cover of What A Beautiful Name become a viral sensation garnering over 1.7 million views, ultimately catching the attention of Motown Gospel and earning not one, but two Stellar Gospel Music Award Beautiful Name.

What a




Is My Living In Vain, Expect a Miracle, Endow Me and the prodigious crossoverGoldcertified hit, You Brought The Sunshine are just a few songs that changed the contemporary face of gospel music. It’s not hard to guess that five beautiful women from Detroit known as The Clark Sisters rocked our world with those songs and hundreds more over their 45 plus year career. The Clark Sisters have stood the test of time, thanks to their mother Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, who paved the way for her “girls” and taught them how to be the best at their craft.“My mom is responsible for giving me my start and teaching me how to play and write. When I was younger I was under a lot of pressure because I had to travel with Mama and make sure I learned all of the music and play all over the world. Mama always made sure we gave God our best and that we had a go skating and have boyfriends, while I had to rehearse and on the early years and their rise to stardom. No strangers to both the mainstream and gospel charts with hit after hit, it is safe to say that the iconic Clark Sisters are release of their 2019 single entitled Victory and a highly anticipated biopic, The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, J. Blige, who is a great friend of The Clark Sisters, and even appears on Jacky’s latest single.“Mary has been like a little sister to all of us down through the years and I was honored when she agreed to be apart of my single, Feel Good. Down through the years our music and personal relationship has helped her through many of life’s challenges, so to see her stronger and free has been a blessing to me,” says Jacky Clark-Chisholm, who suffered a major loss when her husband of 46 years, Glenn, passed away last fall. We asked Jacky how she was coping with the sudden loss of her husband.“We are taking our new reality day by day. This has been a very way. I have never lived on my own, I went from my mother’s house to my home with my husband and I never imaged living alone without my husband. I am so honored to have been married to the same amazing man for 46 years. He was a great husband, father and my best friend. I wish he was here to see everything that is happening for the Clark Sisters, as he has his transition has been new for me and there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him.” It has been 14 years since gospel music’s most adored quartet has released new music but fans always knew that they had more left in them.“We thought Live One Last Time was it for us, but we are all still in good health and we believe God has This season is also encouraging us that God has not forgotten about the 45 years of ministry we have given to the world,” says Karen Clark Sheard, the youngest of the sisters.

The Twinkie Effect Whether R&B, Pop or Gospel, The Clark Sisters have changed the way we listen and view female groups. Their unique sound and approach to harmony and ad libs, literally paved the Destiny’s Child and Xscape. In fact, their music is so popular that it has been sampled by the likes of Whitney Houston, Dawkins and Dawkins, Kierra Sheard, Snoop Dogg, army J. ambassadors of bringing gospel music to the mainstream.“It has been such an honor to have secular artist, especially

aided in people inquiring more about The Clark Sisters and The First Ladies of Gospel The Clark Sisters have been trailblazers of contemporary Gospel music and from 1973 until now, these ladies have reached levels of success many dream of. Beyoncé, Kelly Rowland, SWV, Kelly Price and a plethora of other female artists attribute their sound and style to The Clark Sisters. Let’s face it, in a male dominated Industry Jacky, Dorinda, Karen, and Twinkie have earned the title legendary. With legendary status comes defying moments, like the time when their song, You Brought The Sunshine, was in heavy rotation at New York’s famed Studio 54. The song was so popular that as legend would have it, the owner of the club offered the ladies a boat load of money to perform that one song at the club but their mom, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, forbid them to do so. moments even bigger than Studio 54.“I would have to say the

because people really started to know who The Clark Sisters were.” highly anticipated biopic and out gospel music icons - The as Twinkie, Sheléa Frazier as Dorinda, Raven Goodwin as Denise, Angela Birchett as Jacky and Kierra Sheard as her It is a story of victory and defeat. This has been an amazing journey and we want the world to be inspired by our story and know that they can make it with God. You will also get to see how we learned how to sing, harmonize and blend together as group,” said Sheard. When asked about how she felt about her daughter Kierra portraying her on screen, she screamed daughter playing me. It literally brought tears to my eyes. She called me so many times asking me questions about my life and how I sung different parts. It was such an honor to witness and she made me proud as always. I can’t wait for the world to see Kierra as an actress and how much her vocal ability has evolved.”

ROOT | 24

Dr. Mattie Moss Clark

The Clark Sisters Legacy

Seasoned veteran actress Aunjanue Ellis is no stranger to the

It’s hard to believe that The Clark Sisters are being honored

shows such as: Men of Honor, Ray, The Taking of Pelham 123, The Birth of a Nation, True Blood, The Practice and

show, but everything comes in God’s time. Even when asked about the movie being long overdue, the legends were still very humble about all of the success, both past and present.“It has been a long time coming, we have been working on this project for over 10 years and with the vision and persistence

When They See Us. Her portrayal of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark will make you do a double take. Her mannerisms, glasses and striking resemblance was enough to make Moss Clark’s real life children pause, as they saw a reincarnation of their mom by way of Aunjanue Ellis.“From the moment she walked in the room to meet us, we all started crying and it was like an spoke just like Mama. The fact that they really found someone that could really be our mom, left us all speechless. I have to say she did an amazing job and we can’t wait for you all to see more,” said Dorinda. With a movie and new project streaming worldwide, The Clark Sisters don’t show any signs of slowing down and if their mom was here, she would certainly be proud of her girls getting back together to do the one thing they love the most, and that’s sing.“We actually never stopped singing since our together and that’s what we’ve managed to do. So of course she would be elated to see that her prayers are still being answered,” Twinkie went on to say.

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has brought us to this point. We know everything has a time and season and we believe we are in God’s divine timing.”And when asked if we will still get that Clark Sisters sound on the new project, Jacky went on to say, “We think you will get a little of our classic sound and a little bit of a more fresher sound, especially with the help of our team of amazing producers and songwriters.” After April 11, 2020, millions of people will bear witness to the greatness that is The Clark Sisters. Hopefully the world will see what we, as gospel music enthusiast, have seen all along. story to be told and prayerfully encourage people to know that we face the same life challenges as everyone but through God, we overcame. I pray that as we live off the legacy of our mother, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, our children can live off of our legacy one day.”

THEBENEDICTION that he was a man head over heels in love with his wife and children and as much of a family man he was, he was also a great friend and was always there for me. No matter what

If you pull up Lashawn Daniels Wikipedia page, it will tell you all about the music he created, but nothing about the man. So… I’d like to talk about the Lashawn Daniels, the man. Shawn and I have known each other for years. We’re both church kids and PK’s. He was from New Jersey, “Brick City” as he called it, but he moved to Los Angeles in the early 2000’s. He was bi-coastal for a while and one night we were at a party at Rodney Jerkins house with my then manager, Monica Bacon, and I ran into Shawn and we talked and laughed most of the night. When I was getting ready to leave he said, “Gerald , I’m going to call you tomorrow” and in typical Shawn fashion, he didn’t call. I saw him again about a month later and this time I told him “Shawn, I’ve decided I’m going to keep you from going to hell so I’m going to call you tomorrow,” and his rebuttal was “Make sure you do.” Needless to say, I didn’t call him until about a month later, and from that day we were locked into each other’s lives and talked every day or every other day. Man… Shawn was a good man. No… he was a great man! We rarely talked music, instead we talked family, faith and future. Mom Daniels was his HEART! He had lost his dad some years before and often spoke about how he wished he could have just one more conversation with him. Shawn was very passionate about ministry and was still dedicated to building his parents ministry in any way that he could, In fact, when he passed, they were in the middle of changing, updating and remodeling some things.

his wife April was still living on the East Coast, so I didn’t get to meet her right away, but it was still clear by his actions and conversations

issue was, I knew that he had my back. He had the ability to make everyone in the room feel special. I remember one night, we were talking about some pretty serious stuff, as we so often did and Shawn said, “Gerald, you’re my best friend and I love you” and I said, “Man… me too.” We Shared the highs and lows of life, marriage, family and everything in between. We shared secrets, hurt, pain, disappointment and struggles and those are thing that I will take to the grave, just as he did. Lashawn Daniels was so loving and kind and I watched him love on people that had mistreated him. That’s just who he was. On the day that he passed, we were waiting to hear from he and April, because she was taking her Real Estate test that day and we were waiting to hear the good news. At around 8PM, my wife Tammi said, “We haven’t heard from Shawn and April,” so I texted in our group chat to see what the status was. About an hour later April FaceTimed us but we missed the call. Tammi then FaceTimed her back while I was standing in the bathroom and there was a look on her face that prompted Tammi to ask was she ok and her response was no. She said, “Shawn was in a car accident tonight and he didn’t make it.” As Tammi started yelling April’s name I just started screaming “God… No… Please don’t take him… I need him.” I sat on the floor for hours and just stared. was gone. This can’t be real! The days that followed were a blur, as we went to Charlotte, North Carolina and stayed in his house with his family preparing for his service; I couldn’t help but think he would come walking down the stairs, laughing and joking with me. I waited and waited, but that time never came. If I had known he was leaving I would’ve hung with him longer that Thursday before he passed. But here I was… in his home, sitting in his chair, totally numb talking about his funeral. Tammi would just start crying at odd

Gerald Haddon Remembers His Best Friend Lashawn “Big Shiz” Daniels

moments. Moments when she knew something had been said or done that would’ve made Shawn burst into laughter were now replaced with moments if tears. April was a soldier the entire time, still making it happen just as she did when he was alive. She never missed a beat and her strength was from another world. The day before his funeral, I went to the funeral home to spend time with him and April had even given me permission to view his body although the funeral director advised against it from his professional standpoint. I eventually decided not to view his body, instead I laid across his casket and sang old church songs, because that’s what we would always do when we were together. I sang the lyrics, “Jesus I’ll Never Forget what you’ve done for me. Jesus I’ll never forget how you set me free, Jesus I’ll never forget how you brought me out, Jesus I’ll never forget, no never,” and I swear I heard naught of earth unmoved can stand, Build your hopes on things eternal, hold to Gods unchanging hand.” Lashawn Daniels was a man of faith. A man that knew God, trusted God and lived for God. I know when he saw the car in front of him he yelled out “Jesus”! He called that name often and knew that he could trust that name. He carried the name of Jesus into every vocal and songwriting session he ever did and he made sure everyone knew his love for God and his family. So if anyone ever asks who Lashawn Daniels was, tell them he was a Man of God. I don’t know what my life looks like without him and at times it feels unreal. I still text him and pray that I’ll wake up from this dream and get a response. I know that I’ll see my brother again one day, but until then Ill keep the music playing and I’ll keep loving my wife children and family the way Shawn loved his. I take great comfort in he’s been wanting to have with his dad… and he’s walking those streets of gold. God gave me Shawn and I’m forever grateful for the impact we had on each other lives. I wasn’t ready to say goodbye… none of us were, but I accept God’s will and smile and will laugh and smile as I remember my brother and best friend Lashawn Daniels. ROOT | 26

Issue 33

Apr/May 2020