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& Youthful Praise's
#1 Hit "You
Deserve It" Captures Billboard
Music Award As
Gospel Song Of The Year
By Christopher Heron - Blackgospel.com
The wins keep
coming for gospel superstar J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise.
Hairston and his group received their first Billboard Music Award on
Sunday, May 20 for Top Gospel Song for the radio smash, "You
Deserve It," which spent 24 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Gospel
Digital Song sales chart. The song and the similarly titled album is
the first project on Hairston's new imprint, JamesTown Music.
The following week Hairston was also named a winner of the 2018 ASCAP
Rhythm & Soul Music Award for "You Deserve It," which was
among the top ASCAP songs on the 2017 year-end charts. The award
ceremony will be held on Thursday, June 21st at the Beverly Wilshire
Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Topping off all of this, Hairston has just been elected as Governor to
the Washington, D.C. Chapter Board of the Recording Academy. As the
Governor of the chapter, his primary responsibilities include
serving as an advisor to help chart the course for his Chapter's
music community along with other Governors.
"This is an exciting season for myself and Youthful Praise" says
Hairston. "I'm excited about where God continues to take us and the
ability to further His message and for that I'm truly grateful."
It's been a busy time for Hairston. He began the year with "You
Deserve It" earning him his first GRAMMY Award nomination. He
also won 6 Stellar Gospel Music Awards this year. Now, two years
after the CD's release, the track has just left Billboard's Gospel
Music charts as the followup single, "No Reason To Fear" has
entered the Top 10.
Currently, Hairston is co-headlining the 2018 McDonald's Inspiration
Gospel Tour that is scheduled to hit 13 cities nationwide. He also
has just launched a new syndicated radio show, Youthful Praise
with JJ Hairston, and he is preparing for the summer 2018
publication of his new book, "Amazing Love," with his wife,
Hairston plans to record his first Christmas EP LIVE on Monday, September
10th followed by a new album recording in January 2019.
hard to believe that JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise released
its blockbuster single, "You Deserve It," in the summer of
It's been a slow but steady incline for JJ & his faithful choir from
Connecticut...from avid, young, Christians to purpose-driven and
JJ has embodied and embraced his role and transformation...from wild-eyed
director of YP to full-time worshipper at City Of Praise Family
Ministries...from ambitious artist to head exec at JamesTown Music.
It's been a fantastic journey that's flourishing in some unexpected
ways. Now, with success of the labels debut album, "You
Deserve It," BlackGospel.com enjoyed an exclusive,
eye-opening exchange with JJ that touched on his smash hit, his
hobbies and his hope for the new album.
I notice you're a very dapper brother. Is there a specific
designer or online store or a place you love to shop to get the
Well, Chris, you want me to give away my secret? I
can't give that away. Honestly, most of the stuff I get is from a
stylist who takes care of me, but there is one store that I have in
particular that's my secret spot. They treat me pretty good. I'm
going to keep it a secret.
Give me one activity that you love to do when you have time for
and the family?
This is funny because I always say I watch movies.
But I think people think like, "Okay, so what? That's no big
deal." I'm really a big movie guy. All the Marvel releases I've
seen. One thing that I do that my wife can't stand is I watch the
same movie, over and over again. So movies like "Rush Hour, 1, 2,
and 3." I've seen multiple times. So I'm really a movie guy.
Have you seen "Moonlight," "Fences,"
and "Hidden Figures?"
Alright. You're a movie guy.
A: My favorite was "Hidden Figures." "Fences"
was good, "Moonlight" was good, but I just thought "Hidden
Figures" was a great movie.
Let's talk about music. Congratulations on the blockbuster
success surrounding the single, "You Deserve It." Did you know right
away that you had a special song?
A: It's funny. You never know. When I first heard the
song, I was in Kansas City and there was a worship leader, the
pastor who actually sang on the song with me, Bishop Cortez
Vaughn. It wasn't a complete song then, it was just a chant, and
when I first heard it, I knew it was special.
When we finally recorded it, I never knew it would do what it's doing
now. There's no way to measure expectation, so I couldn't measure
what I thought would happen. I knew it resonated with me. I have a
good sense of what will resonate with other people, but I still had
no idea it would bless so many people the way it has.
I initially thought the featured soloist
was Jason Nelson.
A: That's what's funny. It's Bishop Cortez Vaughn. It
sounds like Jason Nelson. Bishop Cortez Vaughn is a singer
out of Kansas City, Missouri. Very few outside of Missouri have ever
heard of him, but he's an awesome worship leader. He has this mix
between Jason Nelson and Fred Hammond. Great style, so I knew
I how I wanted to have him on the song with me.
What's a pleasant surprise is your Latino version of the song,
"You Deserve It."
What's the inspiration for that?
A: The Spanish/Latino market has been so integral to
worship, but it seems like the Gospel community hasn't embraced them
the way we should. The only one that really does is Israel
Houghton, and, because of that, he's really gained their
lyric video of
"No Reason To Fear"
live video of
"You Deserve It"
I knew this song
was simple enough and was something that would resonate not only
within our community but the Spanish community, as well. I know
there's a strong contingent in Africa who've already embraced the
song. So I feel like it's one of those songs that could translate to
different nationalities. I really want to make it happen.
Your current album is your first release, under JamesTown Music. It's
a huge move launching a music label. Was this a business decision?
Was this an issue for control of your
A: Well, yeah. Youthful Praise has been singing and
making music since 1999. They say the definition of insanity is to
continue to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a
different result. We wanted to continue to make music, but we wanted
it to grow and Entertainment One has been very gracious to us.
They've taken us to a certain place, where it was like, "What's the
next step?" And for me, the next step was actually owning our own
music, our own masters, having the freedom to do what we want and
when we want.
So they gave us a strong distribution system, and they've also partnered
with us and helped support us in things we didn't know. It's been a
really positive experience so far. "You Deserve It"
first single and to have your first single on your new label hit #1
was huge for us, so we're going to continue to grow by the grace of
What's the biggest challenge
as the CEO of your own label?
A: Well, I think there are so many things that you
take for granted when you're an artist, liking paying the bills,
building relationships. There's a lot you take for granted; you
think things just happen. And now that I'm on the other side of the
process, I see how much has to be paid, every change to the graphic
designs, everything that you want to do, every place you want to go.
Everything has to be paid for; everything is an expense. So those are
things that I wasn't aware of before, and now it makes me appreciate
what major labels do to bring us as artists to where we are.
But what's also great is now I can appreciate every victory a little
differently. Now, every small hurdle that you overcome is a larger
hurdle when you're doing it on your own. I'm really loving the
process, and I'm going to continue doing what we do.
You're now serving at City of Praise Family Ministries. How has
that responsibility as Director of Music & Arts
developed your artistry?
A: What's amazing about City of Praise is it's a
church full of love, and anyone can come. It's a large church, but
it still feels intimate. There are people who I have the opportunity
to lead worship for that I'll never meet, and that has helped me to
grow me as an artist.
How to lead worship, even though you may not have a personal interaction
with someone who's part of the congregation...while you're leading
worship, you still want it to connect when you're on stage. So it's
helped me to grow in my presentation, as I lead worship.
You don't want it to feel like you're just singing songs, doing a quick
set and leaving the stage. I want it to be an experience for all of
us, not just for me, not for those who are just in the audience, but
for all of us together. And I think City of Praise has helped me to
grow in that way.
People have enjoyed the album.
Is there a particular song that really
speaks to you personally?
A: Yeah. There's a song that's on the deluxe version on
iTunes called, "Great And Mighty God." That song, we did
before with Deon Kipping on the "I See Victory (Deluxe
Version," but it was kind of weird because it was released after
the CD only online, so a lot of people didn't hear it.
So we re-did it, and on the night of the recording, there was no
expectation with this song. We just did it, and then there's this
flow of worship that just happened in the house, something that none
of us were expecting. When I listen back to it, I can still feel
that same feeling I felt that night. That song to me, is one of the
most impactful songs on the album.
My final question is about the title.
Why was "You Deserve It" the appropriate title for your new release?
A: Initially we were going to say something about the
fact that Youthful Praise celebrates 15-years as a ministry. We were
going to talk about the journey but then after we thought about it,
we understood all glory really belongs to God. I tell the choir all
the time, "there are so many choirs, the only difference between us
and them is the platform that God has given us."
I believe He continues to honor us with that platform because He knows
that we use it to give Him glory and He's the one that deserves it.
So I felt this project is really just summing up the fact that He
deserves the glory for everything He's done through us and for us
over the last 15 years.
We're dedicating this project to worshipping God, not to celebrating
ourselves or any milestones or hits, we're just giving God glory for
everything He's done through us and for us, and that's why we named
the CD, "You Deserve It."
1991 out of Turner's Faith Temple in Bridgeport, CT, the group was
originally known as Teens of TFT and served as the choir for
the church pastored by Bishop J.C. White and Evangelist Gloria
White. The group is known for their Top Ten gospel radio hits such
as "After This," "Resting On His Promises," "Incredible God,
Incredible Praise," "Bless Me" "You're Mighty."
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JJ Hairston &
Youthful Praise Featuring
Rich Tolbert, Jr.
JJ Hairston &
"No Reason To Fear"
(from You Deserve It)
Stellar Gospel Music Award
winning recording artist,
J.J. Hairston of J.J.
Hairston & Youthful Praise,
has added another chapter to
his book of success with the
launch of his own recording
label, JamesTown Music with
the release of the hit
single, "You Deserve It."
from the CD of the same
name.."I'm excited about the
launch of JamesTown Music
and the vision God has given
me not just for the sound of
Youthful Praise but for
other artists as well," says
Hairston. Guest artists
include Maranda Curtis
and Travis Greene.
JJ Hairston &
(I See Victory)
Choir leader JJ Hairston
and the Youthful Praise team return with I See Victory, the
group's seventh live release. Captured at Bloomfield, CT's First Cathedral,
this thirteen track set includes "Bless Me" (ft. Donnie McClurkin),
"I Feel You Moving" (ft. Jason Nelson), "Awe Of You" (ft.
Karen Clark Sheard), and more. 2016 Stellar Award Winner Contemporary
of the Year
Following the massive
Resting On His Promise, J.J. Hairston & the Youthful Praise choir
return with an energetic live recording of worshipful contemporary gospel.
After This features guest appearances from fellow gospel luminaries Tye
Tribbett, LaShun Pace, John P. Kee and others across twelve powerful
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