by Jenise La Vonne
Indie Gospel Artist, uamusiconline.com
Host, The Gospel Underground Podcast (available on iTunes and SoundCloud)
Over the past 10 years the music industry has transformed dramatically. With all the advancements in technology we are now at a place in time where we can virtually write a song, record it, mix it, master it, and acquire digital and radio distribution all from the comfort of our own homes. Additionally, with the assistance of social media, a good photo shoot, and eye catching graphics we can market our projects with minimal resources. For emerging artists, the options for growth are limitless.
Once upon a time the big break was after you’ve honed your craft and produced a compelling demo, was to be signed to a major record deal. Fast forward to 2017 the likelihood of being signed simply off your talent is slim to none. Now major record labels require for artists to “prove” themselves by producing music that with stats showing their ability to sell and appeal to large audiences. As a result, the need to sign a deal in exchange of your musical rights for advancements, marketing, and distribution has lost its appeal to numerous artists.
In 2014 the New York Post reported that indie artists are the new number 1 in the entire music industry, and since then that wave has continued to move throughout every genre of music. Gospel music leads the pack in being one of the fastest producers of indie artists from major label artists ending their contracts and moving forward on their own labels like JJ Hairston, and Vickie Winans, to new artists such as Jasmine Williams, and The McKains.
The Independent Gospel music scene is a force to be reckoned with as it continues to grow and make its place in the music industry at large. Beyond sales and the desire for popularity, the indie gospel music scene births artists with the strong conviction of ministry over career and the strengthening and upbuilding of the body of Christ. Resembling the organization of a developing nation, the indie gospel music scene has equipped itself with all it needs to be effective and sell, from distribution (Independent Gospel Artist Radio Alliance-IGARA), to artist development and community (The Gospel Underground Podcast -uamusiconline.com), producing music capable of standing against any artist of any genre. Indie gospel music gives life back to local music departments while simultaneously ministering to the world through its freedom from contractual obligations and freedom to be guided by God as He directs in music for this time. At a time where music has reached its most influential height through the works of social media, is there any wonder that indie is the new major?
For the latest in independent gospel music check out The Gospel Underground Podcast on iTunes and SoundCloud.
Here’s a list of Indie Artist on the Rise!
Jasmine Williams The Princess of Praise
Jasmine Marie Williams is an Alabama native with powerhouse vocals and powerhouse praise. Jasmine has been nominated for several awards including 4 nominations for the 2016 Radio Alliance Award and 2 wins for the 2015 Rhythm of Gospel Awards. Jasmine has opened up for many artists such as Jonathan McReynolds, Kierra Sheard, Dr. Dorinda Clark-Cole, John P. Kee, Dr. Bobby Jones, and many more. On August 26, 2016, Jasmine released her sophomore album “Experience The Journey” nationwide. The album features the lead single “Greater Is He”, Even Now, You’re Everything, No Other Name (Feat. Alesha Jackson), & Stand Alone (Feat. Candy West). Jasmine is a highly sought after singer and songwriter, gradually making her mark in the gospel music industry.
Urim7 The Cool Kids
URIM 7 is a unique Jamaican band that entered the music industry with a diverse blend of gospel, reggae, R&B, jazz, and contemporary music. The band is a dynamic team of singers and musicians who are also graduates of the Edna Manley School of Music, University of the West Indies (UWI) and University of Technology (UTECH) who have dedicated their lives to producing and promoting the gospel through music. URIM means ‘lights’ and the number ‘7’ represent perfection.
URIM7 Band was declared in Washington, D. C. “Musical Ambassador of Caribbean American Heritage Month (CAHM) June 2015-2016, the First Gospel Band and the First Jamaican Band to be so named. Their debut album “The Assignment” was released in 2015 which features 15 exquisite tracks of gospel, reggae, pop, jazz and R&B, that is currently on daily rotation on local radio.
The McKains The Family Affair
The McKains is a band of siblings Violet, Nicole, Andrew, and Jeremy who have gained national and international recognition for their worship filled original music. The McKains have a catalog of music including four albums with “Unfailing Love” as their first EP. Their latest single, the wildly popular Only Jesus is the center of the latest viral sensation entitled the #OnlyJesusChallenge where fans all across the world share their version of the song via social media. Not to be limited to singing and songwriting, the McKains are a group of musicians playing instruments such as the piano, saxophone, clarinet, bass, flute, xylophone, drums, tuba, french horn, and the electric guitar. The McKains are a family to watch out for as they lead the next generation to the heart of God.
Jenise La Vonne The Activist
Jenise La Vonne is an anointed singer/songwriter based in Queens, New York. A 2X Rhythm of Gospel Award winner and 5X Radio Alliance Award Nominee, Jenise is not only an independent gospel artist but an advocate for the indie gospel community. She is the creator and host of the increasingly popular Gospel Underground Podcast; an online show dedicated to inspiring, informing, and celebrating indie gospel artists. In June of 2015, Jenise released her debut EP “The Call” after traveling nationally, and internationally ministering the gospel of Jesus Christ through song. Jenise has set her sights on 2018 for the release of her upcoming album, but until then she is eagerly working on building up the Indie Gospel Music community through radio and television.
Temika Moore The Voice
She’s been described as “a breath of fresh air,” “a voice that gives wings to the spirit,” and “a cross between India Arie and Nancy Wilson,” but you will come up with your own superlatives once you hear the musical magic of Inspirational Soul artist Temika Moore. “Inspirational Soul is organic,” Temika explains. “This music is built on the premise of vocal, instrumental, and lyrical freedom undergirded by spiritual truth.” Weaving together strains of acoustic, jazz, soul, R & B and gospel, Temika Moore creates an unforgettable tapestry of sound.
Temika’s talents have led her to share the stage with such artists as R&B/jazz artist Will Downing, jazz funk stalwart Roy Ayers, contemporary jazz keyboardist Marcus Johnson and the late saxophonist Stanley Turrentine. She has opened for Eric Benet, Chante Moore, Bilal, Kindred the Family Soul, KEM, Dwele, Sylena Johnson, Cassandra Wilson, Najee, Pieces of a Dream, and Jean Carne, among others. And her voice has provided background support for inspirational artists Jeff Majors, Dorothy Norwood and Deon Kipping. Her Latest release “The Closet: Intimate Conversations” offers a fresh look at what it means to build a relationship with God.
Marquita Anthony The Trendsetter
Like everyone who starts singing as a child, it wasn’t difficult to assume that Marquita would pursue a professional career as an artist. After years of singing as a lead vocalist with the UAB Gospel Choir, writing and arranging traditional gospel songs and helping to chart albums, most were shocked to hear her independent sound. No one was doing gospel the way she does it. And she does it well. With heart pounding beats and synths overlaid with smooth effortless backgrounds and surprising vocal arrangements, Marquita presents the gospel in an ear-catching, heart-piercing kind of way. Shaping the true words of Scripture, she uses personal experiences and her own testimonies to bring real issues to light. In a World where “what happens after Sunday stays there” Marquita challenges listeners to be accountable, be motivated, and be DRIVEN to go above and beyond the mediocre way of basic Christian life, into the waves, into purpose. With a no holds barred attitude she shares the painful and the prophetic, the hopelessness and the happiness, the bitter and the blessing. The layers in this album will keep you listening and digging deeper, and striving to do more before next Sunday.
Claude Deuce The OG
Claude Deuce is a renowned singer, songwriter, and producer born and raised in Augusta, GA. Claude began singing in church at the age of 2 years old and went on to play several instruments. He is a 2012 Stellar Award Nominee for his work with the children’s tv show, My Destiny Place. Claude has written and(or) produced songs/remixes for big AL, Deitrick Haddon, Tonex, Sean Simmonds, Danielle Harris, J4 Twenty-3, Noah Nicholson & Family Worship Center Celebration Choir, Shirley Murdock, Monica Lisa Stevenson & Milliyon and many more. In 2009, he released his first nationally distributed album entitled, Young Elder.
He joined the PJ Morton Band for the Walk Alone Tour and was apart of the Reclaim Tour in 2011! Claude released the Wanna Be Winans mixtape in April 2011 to rave reviews and thousands of downloads!! The Pastors’ Son was released in 2012 and in 2013 he collaborated with big AL to release the Super Friends album. His latest offering is The Praise & Worship Files EP, released June 17, 2014.
Kevina Love The Soul Singer
Kevina Love is a singer coming from a rich heritage of singers which includes her grandmother, Janie Crawford (of the Gospel Travelers), and her mother, Joyce Humbert (backing vocalist to Ms. Patti Labelle). Love is a surviver of life’s many storms, including the murder of her son Keyvon in 2013. Although this was a challenging time to maintain her faith, Kevina vowed to never let go of God’s hand and moved forward penning many heartfelt songs. When she worships God, Kevina is unafraid to allow Him to take over so that she can leave her heart and soul on the stage. Kevin Love has been nominated for and won several awards for her soul stirring music including a 2017 Steeple Award nomination for Best New Artist, and a 2016 Gospel Image Award win for People’s Choice Award.
Jamel Strong The Professor
Jamel Strong is an ordained minister, singer, and songwriter, who sang his first solo at the age of six and has not stopped singing since. As a teenager, Jamel sang on his first National Recording, which was released on the Tribute Records label and executively produced by Ben Tankard, and has sung on dozens of national recordings since. He has been the featured guest vocalist on numerous Billboard charting projects such as Dr. Leonard Scott’s Live in Birmingham(He Is Lord) and Dynamic Praise Choir of Oakwood University (God Restores). In 1999 he founded Strength Ministries Inc. From this non-denominational multifaceted ministry, Jamel Strong & Message was formed. As a Kingdom instructor, Jamel Strong conducts a Master Class Series 3 times a year (Spring, Summer, and Fall) that educates, equips and empowers vocalists that range from beginners to professionals in music ministry. This initiative has allowed him to personally touch hundreds of people lives, individually as well as collectively since the Fall of 2014. Jamel Strong continues to pen songs for noted National Recording artists as he travels the country spreading the gospel through word and song.
Corey Barksdale The Unexpected
Chicago-based singer/songwriter, Corey Barksdale uses illustrative lyrics, biblical teachings, and eclectic vocals to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ and messages of inspiration that are relevant in today’s society!
While still young, Corey has acquired nearly 20 years of experience in Music Ministry. Due to his unique abilities and leadership skills, he has been requested to serve as a Worship Leader and/or Vocal Clinician within the Music Ministry for various churches throughout Chicago, including invitations from Living Word Christian Center (Dr. Bill Winston, Pastor) Fellowship Chicago (Charles Jenkins, Pastor) and Victory Apostolic Church (Dr. Andrew Singleton Jr., Pastor).
Corey’s unique sound has afforded him appearances on National Television Shows and Networks including, WGN (Singsation Gospel Show), The Word Network (Rejoice in the Word), TBN, TLN and The Steve Harvey TV Talk Show. Barksdale’s life and music journey has been featured in The Chicago Defender, Dayton Daily News, Indigo Magazine, Chicago Tribune, and a noted mention in Sister 2 Sister Magazine.
In 2010, Corey was invited to co-write and record a duet song for college buddy, Grammy/Stellar Award Nominee, Jonathan McReynolds. The song was titled “Why” from his Life Music Project. In January of 2016 Corey released his first body of original work, a 5 song EP, titled “Hello My Name Is… Love”! As stated in the EP’s title, this small body of work addresses our love for God, self, and others in a way that is enjoyable for a diverse group of listeners.v