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 right direction. 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 VaShawn urban highlights the act: David & Tamela Mann the Site: davidandtamelamann 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 radio show. 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: 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.” CCM 49