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Gospel fans may not recognize vaShawn Mitchell’s name, but they have likely heard his work.
Having penned hits by Gospel music luminaries like Smokie Norful and vanessa Bell Armstrong
and blazed contemporary worship paths for Chicago and Atlanta’s finest church choirs, the former
independent artist explains to CCM why he is now ready to take the major-label plunge with
his eMi Gospel debut, Triumphant, and how a prison sentence re-focused his spiritual heart and
launched him into the big leagues.
The new record is entitled triumphant. What challenges have you triumphed over in your own life?
vaShawn: 14 years ago i repeatedly drove on a suspended license. The judge sentenced me to 14
days in the county jail. i was minister of music of one of the most thriving churches in Chicago and
locked up. But i believe it was God’s plan to take me through that experience so that my worship
could become real. i found myself going to church, singing and directing but not living what i sang
about. This began the pursuit for a deeper knowledge of Christ and worship. Since then i have
asked God, “Please don’t take me to jail again to get my attention!” [Laughs]
You combine Gospel music’s traditional choir elements with a modernized R&B groove. What
inspires the blend?
vaShawn: i was born and raised in the church so i love all praise and worship, from the traditional
sounds to the multicultural sounds. i believe it is my assignment to capture a sound that marries
the Gospel message with music that reaches people regardless of denomination and ethnic group.
With so much recognition as an independent artist, what prompted you to go the major label
route with this record?
vaShawn: “Be Fruitful,” a song on Triumphant, says: “it’s not only your time but your turn!” it is my
turn to take Gospel to the world in a major way and partnering with [eMi Gospel] is a step in the
Besides being an artist you are music minister at Atlanta’s Higher Living Christian Church. How do
you balance two seemingly polarizing professions?
vaShawn: i believe in being faithful to my local church body God will bless my career. My passion
for what i am called to do assists me in creating balance through prioritizing and communication
with my pastor.
— Andrew Greer
the act: David & Tamela Mann
the Site: http://www.myspace.com/
the Sound: Contemporary Gospel
the Buzz: A hit list of Gospel artists
including The Manns of Tyler Perry “Meet
the Browns” fame, plus fellow singers
Lucinda Moore and Beverly Crawford,
visited BeT’s D.C. headquarters last
month to tape Bryan Wilson’s infamous
the act: Walter Hawkins
the Site: http://www.
the Sound: Black Gospel
the Buzz: GMC recently aired a
posthumous tribute to Grammy-winning
Gospel legend, Walter Hawkins, who
died this summer. The all-star set list
included performances by Mary, Mary,
Yolanda Adams, Ledisi, Karen Clark
Sheard and Donnie McClurkin.
the act: Anthony evans
the Site: www.anthony-evans.com
the Sound: urban Praise and Worship
the Buzz: During a recent Dallas men’s
conference, evans introduced George
W. Bush’s keynote speech with his
version of “The National Anthem.” Also
in attendance, Super Bowl-winning
NFL coach, Tony Dungy, commented:
“i would put [evans’ rendition] right
up there with Whitney Houston’s and
Jennifer Hudson’s as one of the most
stirring i have heard.”