If, as a child, you had told modern gospel artist Tim Bowman, Jr. that he would top the Billboard Gospel charts two decades later, he might actually have believed it possible. Not because the twenty-nine-year-old musician is puffed up on pride or overconfident of his craft, but rather the spiritually sensitive Detroit native was raised and trained on a steady diet of music and ministry thanks to the top-notch influences of his father, smooth jazz guitarist, Tim Bowman, and his aunt, gospel singing veteran, Vickie Winans. For Bowman, Jr., playing music, and even more specifically, gospel music, is simply second nature.
Enlisting his born-and-bred musical expertise, paired with the legendary record-making process of producer powerhouse Rodney Jerkins (Beyonce, Michael Jackson), to propel his sophomore set, Listen (Lifestyle Music Group), to the heady number one slot on Billboard Gospel’s chart week of release, Bowman, Jr. and crew have successfully secured his title as “gospel music’s fastest rising star.”
Sitting down for his first ever interview with CCM Magazine, the young music minister talks about his expanding platform, his expanding family and how, for him, success is defined in spiritual terms, not sales numbers.
CCM Magazine: Tim, you were surrounded by top-notch musicians your entire life. How did the growing up inside such an astute musical environment influence your decision to make music your livelihood?
Tim Bowman, Jr: I’ve been traveling and singing with my family since I was twelve years old. I’ve learned so much from them. Most importantly, they pushed, supported, and encouraged me to always keep honing my gift.
CCM: How have these family musicians mentored your life, musically and spiritually?
TB, Jr.: My father [Tim Bowman] was a huge musical influence in my life. The way I approach music, as a whole, was shaped by him. He exposed me to music that was foreign to me, like jazz, fusion, rock and country. I remember us sitting down and going over musical scales day in and day out.
My Aunt Vickie [Winans] really helped me take that gift and move it into ministry. She taught me the importance of having spiritually integrity on and off the stage. Touring with her, I got a chance to see how to do ministry the right way.
CCM: Listen was produced by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins, famous for his work with heavy-hitting R&B-pop artists like Mary J. Blige, Destiny’s Child and Michael Jackson. How did Jerkins’ experience give Listen the lift necessary to take your musicianship to a new level?
TB, Jr.: Wow. What can I say about the influence that Rodney has had on this project and me? Rodney is nothing short of a musical genius. He took me as an artist and showed me new things about my gift. He put his stamp on this project while allowing me to express myself authentically. He knew exactly what and what not to do. Everything is thought out with his natural and spiritual wisdom.
CCM: Listen earned you your first chart-topping album, and spawned your first #1 radio single, “I’m Good.” How does it feel to be surrounded by all these number ones?
TB, Jr.: It’s a dream come true! I do this to use and express my gift for the Kingdom, but it never hurts to be celebrated and recognized for your contribution to the industry.
We just set out to make life changing Kingdom music. If the music went to number one, great. But if it hadn’t, I would’ve been happy with making a spiritual impact.
CCM: A lyric from “I’m Good” … I have days when / It’s true y’all / I just can’t smile, I just wanna’ cry / It ain’t easy, sometimes it’s work just to be alive. Do you feel it is important to share your successes and your struggles with your audience?
TB, Jr.: Absolutely. My generation is huge on transparency and being real. People need to see that real life problems and situations occur for everybody. We just have to the make the decision to fight through and not dwell on it, because in the end we need to realize that we’re good. Christ made us that way!
CCM: You and your new bride have been thrust into the mainstream spotlight for your public profession of purity—encouraging couples to wait to have sex until marriage. The public’s response has been both supportive and critical. What is your message in regards to purity? And how have the two of you weathered the opposing responses?
TB, Jr.: Shout out to my beautiful wife, Brelyn. I love you!
Our message is simple. Walk out what the Bible says, more specifically in regards to purity—not just sexual—but in all areas. It just so happens that the spotlight was cast on our decision about sexual purity. So we’ve been traveling the country encouraging and empowering others on how to walk that life out.
The opposing responses don’t knock us off of our game. We don’t look at them as negative. We look at them as a chance to get the conversation started!
CCM: At the end of the day, why make music? Why share music? Why take to the stage one more time, lead worship one more time? At the core, what motivates your music?
TB, Jr.: I do all of this because it is my purpose and passion in life! Music and ministry is in me to the core. There is no dimming this fire that’s inside of me. I get excited and amped when God gives me a new and creative way to share His gospel. I have a heart for believers and non-believers, for God’s people. As long as I have breath in my body, I’ll be pushing to uplift and encourage the believers as well as win souls!