For those who think that gospel music has gone too far...there’s a new wave of artists who are taking things a little bit farther.
It’s only fitting that we kick off this list with a PK (preacher's kid). Alexis Spight came into her own as the runner up in Season 5 of Sunday Best in 2012. Spight’s debut album, L.O.L (Living Out Loud), charted at no. 83 on the Billboard 200, and no. 1 on the Gospel Albums chart. If you’re looking for a refreshing, cross-generational sound, then check out the latest release, Dear Diary, from the girl with the bright red hair.
Holding it down for hip-hop is Christian rapper Andy Mineo. He’s a writer, musician, director and producer who likes to get “uncomfortable.” Andy’s debut album, Heroes for Sale, did not disappoint, fusing R&B, classical and hymns with a very personal tone. His latest offering, Uncomfortable, hits you right in the soul with his cultural awareness and uplifting tacks. Andy Mineo is one to watch out for.
Showing some international love, If you want something fresh from across the pond, let me put you on to Annastasia Baker. If she looks familiar, this British gospel singer was introduced to us in Season 5 of the U.K. version of The X Factor. Titled You Turn, her debut album highlights her BIG voice and Caribbean roots and touches on emotions of laughter, pain, perseverance and faith.
A sports injury pushed this artist from playbooks to songbooks. The message in his music, overcoming adversity, is an example of art reflecting life. As one of gospel’s most buzzed about new artists, Trinity delivered an impressive debut album, With All I Am, landing at no. 4 on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums and just released the third radio single “Simply Amazing.” We have high expectations for this Oklahoma native.
Going from a viral YouTube sensation to a rising gospel sweetheart, Bri is changing lives with the raw emotion and passion delivered with every note she sings. She came out the doors swinging, making Billboard history as the first singer to debut at no. 1 on Billboard’s digital gospel chart without the assistance of radio, TV or previous sale history. Bri’s debut album, Keys to My Heart, hit no. 1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart and delivers a powerful praise with songs that congregations around the world can easily sing along with. Don’t be left out, join team Brination.
Don’t sleep on Danetra Moore; she might not have won the coveted title of "Sunday Best,” but she has a voice that’ll make your soul rejoice. She drops her former background singer title, with the release of her album Light in the Dark and gets a major assist from featured artist and gospel legend Rance Allen. Danetra makes it very clear in this album that Jesus Christ is the source of all of her accomplishments. When in need of encouragement, pop this project on and get ready to get restored and blown away by the range in her voice.
Kirk fFanklin (left) and Geoffrey Golden on Sunday Best.
The champion of the seventh season of Sunday Best, hailing from Cleveland, Ohio is a big man with a bigger voice. With all the negative press around young black men, it’s refreshing to see this guy doing it the kingdom way. Under Kirk Franklin’s leadership, it’s no surprise that his album Kingdom Live is an intimate experience with God.
Adding classic soul flavor to gospel music, Todd Dulaney went from pro baseball player (NY Mets), to backup singer to solo artist. His most notable single so far “The Anthem” is timeless in its message, and is actually a cover of the song originally performed by Planet Shakers from Australia. A live album inspired by self-reflection, A Worshipper’s Heart has moments of corporate worship along with times when it’s as if were listening to a private conversation between Dulaney and God. This album debuted at no. 1 on the iTunes Christian & Gospel Albums chart.
Currently no. 2 on Billboard's Gospel Airplay chart with “You’re Bigger,” 19-year-old evangelist Jekalyn Carr is truly inspiring gospel fans across the country. Her album Greater Is Coming debuted at no. 3 on Billboard and we’re expecting more greatness coming from her in the future.
One of the most electrifying artists of our time comes straight outta the Chi. Jonathan McReynolds is a Grammy-nominated multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and college professor. His voice moves perfectly through the melody and his sound transitions comfortably from traditional gospel to contemporary. Jonathan wrote his first album, Life Music, while in college, and the success of his follow-up, Life Music: Stage Two, cements his position in the gospel world. With co-signs from music heavyweights like Stevie Wonder, Kirk Franklin and Nicki Minaj, there’s no reason for him to slow down anytime soon.
The Brooklyn-based quintet represents the next generation of contemporary gospel. Just this year they clinched the no. 1 Billboard gospel album spot with their debut project, Jericho: Tribe of Joshua. The album features collaborations with A$AP Ferg and Jason Nelson and has had instant radio success. This group has something for everyone, from powerful voices to heartfelt worshippers. For those who doubt the authenticity of young worship, Ajanee, Ariel, Malik, Kenneth and Richard are taking gospel to another level.
Sir The Baptist
Sir The Baptist is definitely making noise in Christian music. You can call his music “Church Pub Rap” or “contemporary ghetto gospel,” but what you can expect from his debut album, PK: Preacher’s Kid, is a little bit of everything. With Sir, you get blunt and almost rebellious gospel that’s pushing the genre well beyond traditional expectations. Take a listen to “Raise Hell” and catch him this summer at a festival near you.
Tasha Cobbs accepting her Grammy.
The worship leader at the Dream Center in Atlanta not only broke out onto the national stage, but also broke chains in the process. Tasha Cobbs’s hit single “Break Every Chain” was Billboard’s no. 1 song for 12 weeks and garnered a Grammy for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music Performance, and her album Grace landed on Billboard’s Top 10 Gospel Albums chart for a year. Her worship songs convey transparency, authenticity and vulnerability while her vocal prowess commands any room she enters. Her latest offering, One Place Live, reminds us of her charisma and power, and the track “Put a Praise On It” will have you shouting through the house.
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Travis Greene at BET's Celebration of Gospel.
Travis Greene is uplifting, inspirational and raw and incorporates genres from gospel to reggae into his music. Encouraged by his own brush with death as a child, he uses his passion to expose others to the love of Jesus Christ. The melodic track “Intentional” took the no. 1 spot on Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart and helped his sophomore project, The Hill, also debut on the gospel Billboard chart.
The Walls Group
Grammy-nominated and multi-Stellar award–winning sibling crew The Walls Group is on the fast track to music notoriety. The young Houston-based quartet are spearheading Kirk Franklin’s record label, and their debut Fast Forward empowers youth to be unashamed in their worship. Darrel, Rhea, Paco and Ahjah got a major assist from Brandy as a featured artist on their album, which hit no. 1 on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart. Packing out venues and churches alike with their high energy, pure and relatable personalities, get ready to see the sibs shake up the industry for years to come.
Zacardi Cortez on BET's Celebration of Gospel.
That old soul, spine-tingling voice that you hear on some of your favorite artists' songs belongs to Zacardi Cortez. As one of the most sought after vocalists, his debut album, Zacardi Cortez: The Introduction is churchy, contemporary and funky and features a plethora of his gospel colleagues like his mentor John P. Kee, Kierra Sheard, Fred Hammond and more. When Zacardi sings, everyone listens and if you haven’t yet, make sure you check out his latest album, Reloaded. Zarcardi Cortez is up next, so watch out.