Marvin Sapp is a Gospel music legend. But not until he released 2007’s bona-fide blockbuster, Thirsty, did the preacher-singer understand the power—and popularity—of marrying traditional Gospel tones with hip R&B licks. Using similar elements to catapult his latest record, Here I Am (Verity) to the #2 spot on the Billboard Top 200—unprecedented in Gospel music history—the 2010 BET Award winner and senior pastor of Grand Rapid’s Full Life Center Church talks about staying focused on the message even amidst a ministry turned celebrity. CCM: you entered the music scene as a part of the legendary gospel group, Commissioned, which included other now-legends like Fred Hammond. How did your tenure with the group influence your solo career? Marvin: Commissioned matured me. I learned some valuable faith lessons. Even though we were well known and ministered around the world, we weren’t making a lot of money. So I learned how to be a good steward over a little and God taught me that the most important thing was to stay focused on ministry. That is why I’m so ministry focused now. CCM: a recent online bio said, “Marvin sapp is not a singer that happens to preach but a preacher called by god who is gifted to sing.” how do you keep the pastorate a priority with the demands of a high-profile music career? Marvin: I prioritize what’s most important. My main priority is my family, number two is my church and number three is my music career. That’s why we have a thriving church. I believe that if I take care of God’s people God will take care of me—and He has. CCM: if you had to choose singing or preaching, which would it be? Marvin: Preaching. While music inspires and uplifts, I love the science and art of preaching. It’s through preaching that men and women are drawn to Christ. Music allows me to deposit a seed but pastoring allows me to deposit it, cultivate it and watch it grow. CCM: with the mainstream exposure granted your ministry over the past three years, what message do you hope to express to the masses? Marvin: When the secular world wants to hear Gospel, that’s what they want to hear. I’m going to keep it Jesus and not change my musical style. I just want to lift up the name of Jesus because the Bible says if you lift Him up you will draw all men unto Him. — Andrew Greer marvin sapp urban highlights The act: Trip Lee The site: The sound: Rap/Hip-Hop The Buzz: Check out the official video for Trip Lee’s new single, “The Invasion Hero” feat. Jai, plus a cameo by Jimmy needham, from his recent #1 record Between Two Worlds here. The act: Phil Tarver The site: The sound: Choir-backed Gospel The Buzz: Gold-selling Shekinah Glory’s worship leader recently released his latest CD, Place of Worship, recorded “live” before 3,000 worshippers. The act: Myron Butler The site: myronbutlerandlevi The sound: Contemporary Gospel The Buzz: Best-selling choir leader and Grammy Award-winning producer for hit Gospel acts like Smokie norful and Tamela Mann recently produced newcomer, Tonya Baker’s, first live recording before a packed audience in Ohio. Release date: TBD. CCM 51