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JJ Hairston & 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, Trina.

  Hairston plans to record his first Christmas EP LIVE on Monday, September 10th followed by a new album recording in January 2019.

   It's hard to believe that JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise released its blockbuster single, "You Deserve It," in the summer of 2016.

  It's been a slow but steady incline for JJ & his faithful choir from Connecticut...from avid, young, Christians to purpose-driven and devoted adults.

 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 goods?

  JJ: 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 yourself
and the family?

  A: 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?"

  A: Absolutely.

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 support.

See JJ Hairston's lyric video of
"No Reason To Fear" - Click Here

See JJ Hairston's live video of
"You Deserve It" - Click Here

  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
music ministry?

  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" was our 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 God.

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."

  Formed in 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."

~ from blackgospel.com ~


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JJ Hairston &
Youthful Praise Featuring
Rich Tolbert, Jr.

"Miracle Worker"


JJ Hairston &
Youthful Praise

"No Reason To Fear"
(from You Deserve It)
Deluxe Edition

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 &
Youthful Praise

(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 Choir
of the Year

JJ Hairston &
Youthful Praise

(After This)

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 tracks.

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