One of the Caribbean's leading praise and worship leaders and a seasoned recording artist, Sherwin Gardner, is set to conquer the globe with his vibrant new album, "Greater" (Flow Masters /Tyscot), which will release globally on May 26, 2017. The fifteen-track project was recorded live at the SJPC House of Restoration Ministries in St. John, Antigua. The set features riveting vocal cameos by urban gospel legend Deitrick Haddon and Todd Dulaney who scored a massive hit with his No. 1 tune, "The Anthem." in 2016.
The "Greater" album is anchored by Gardner's first American radio hit, "Because of You." The inspiring track recently debuted at No. 28 on the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart five weeks ago and has been moving up ever since. The devotional song was inspired by his mother's decision not to abort him when doctors informed her that he would be born with birth defects because of radiation she received during her pregnancy. "Thanks to God, I was born with no problems," says Gardner.
Q: Sherwin, thanks for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself, tell us a little about your background. How did you come to know Christ?
SG: I grew up in a Christian home. My mother is a pastor. Her father was the Bishop of the New Testament Churches in Trinidad & Tobago. My true introduction to Christ in terms of me making a personal decision would have been when I was ten years old. I was already singing because I had started singing at the age of five. At one concert, I went to sing. While I was singing as a little boy, I was actually singing, "His Eye is on the Sparrow." The spirit of the Lord began to move in the place and the atmosphere and I began to cry because I realized that even though, I had a nice voice; the transformation that was happening wasn't about me. It was really because of God. That's when I made a true commitment into ministry and a true commitment to Christ that I would follow Him and that I would just do music only for him. So, It was no longer about my parents or about anybody else having an influence on my decision. It was me personally saying this is what I want to do. I want to serve Christ. I want to sing gospel. I want to share the gospel to the entire world.
Q: How did the Lord lead you into music? I believe back in Trinidad, you already have had a stellar career in Gospel music, tell us about your career back home.
SG: Music is something that occurs naturally in my family. My uncle had a competition with all of my little cousins. It's a big family. My mom is from a family of fifteen. I'm from a family of seven. So, It was myself and my brothers. We were singing for biscuits (a type of cookie in the Caribbean), which is really funny. While we were singing, my uncle noticed my voice and said, "You have a beautiful voice." He took me to church to sing the next day and from that moment, I moved from just singing at church to singing at concerts throughout Trinidad. When I got to high school, I started singing Caribbean sounding music. I started doing reggae, soca and dancehall, which is our native music. It was a struggle at first because it wasn't widely accepted back then because it was only identified with Bob Marley, Sizzla Kalonji and a lot of these secular people.
It took time for us to get people to accept it. Eventually, when people began to see the ministry bearing good fruit and seeing more people get saved and more people wanting to hear the music, it became accepted. Since then, God has opened up many doors. I've helped a lot of artists. I've produced most of the top artists back home. My career just shot off and God just continued to open doors until I got signed to Lion of Zion Entertainment in 2001. That was my first international recognition because that got me traveling and singing to all the continents of the world.
Q: Is worship music different in Trinidad compared to what it is in the US? If so, how is it different?
SG: No, the Caribbean is pretty much the same. The only difference is that we still use a lot of Caribbean beats. But everything that the United States sings, we pretty much sing. Hillsongs is really big in worship here. A lot of black gospel artists like Todd Dulaney's "Victory Belongs to Jesus" or Travis Green's "Made A Way" are popular there. Once something is basically popping in the U.S., it's basically popping in the Caribbean. It's something similar.... We worship hard and long. Our churches worship a lot. Worship is a big part of our services. A lot of the young people look up to the singers in the United States. They try to follow or get their stuff sounding on that level.
Q: On the album you sing about the greatness of Jesus. Can you tell us an incident in your own life where you've experienced the greatness of Jesus?
SG: In November 2015 - right after my concert, I have a big show I did in Antigua and Barbuda, I was speaking to my mom about her testimony. She was really sick before I was born. She had to take something they called a barium meal. She drank this liquid and then, they took x-rays to see what kind of illness she had. She didn't know she was pregnant with me at the time. She was 20 weeks pregnant. When she found out she was having a baby, all the doctors and specialists told her she should abort the baby. But she chose life over death. That's why I sing about the greatness of Jesus because when I heard that it touched me. I had heard her testimony before but she never broke it down this much, so I started writing this song "Because of You." The song says I live, I walk, I breathe, I sing because of you, I owe everything to you. So, it's a personal testimony from my mom and myself because I understand that I would not have been alive if it hadn't been for the Lord. Just imagine, all of the doctors and specialists telling you to abort this child because it will be born crippled or deformed and a parent being able to say this child shall live and declare the name of Jesus Christ.
Q: You have a new album "Greater" coming out internationally. I believe it's a live worship record. Where did you record it? And describe for us the recording for the project?
SG: "Greater" is something I always wanted to do. Since 2004, I knew that worship was where I was going to end up. Each album through the years, I've done one or two worship songs. I wanted to get people in the Caribbean to get used to that particular song from me, so this transition was really different. It isn't as hard or difficult as I thought it would've been. After I was led to record "Because of You" and it got great response in the Caribbean, I said this is the right time, I'm going to do my worship album. I wanted "Because of You" to be the single to introduce my new musical direction, especially to the Caribbean people worship. It was doing amazing.
We did the live recording in April of 2016 at St. John's Pentecostal House of Restoration Ministries in Antigua & Barbuda where I am the worship and music director. I had Todd Dulaney to come in from the states. Pastor Bryant Scott from Tyscot Records was there. Willie Moore Jr. was there representing eOne. When it was all done, I took the project to Bryant Scott and Tyscot signed me. The album is really a mixture of Caribbean worship along with American worship. It's like a whole callaloo or something that's really mixed really, really nice. At the end of the album is a bonus soca song called "I'm a Winner." I love gospel, I love worship. I love to go- in, in terms of worship.
Q: What are some of the songs on the record you are super excited about? And why?
SG: In 2016, I was performing in Barbados at a show and the Lord just dropped into my spirit, "Hey, something is about to happen, a season of greater is coming to your life." So, I sat down and began to write that "Greater" is coming. I know a lot of people haven't heard it yet but it's truly a blessing not just to me but to others as well. People give up on you, people give up on me, people turn their backs. Sometimes you have a situation or an idea and people shut it down and it dies before you even try it...This album really gives you the opportunity to see that your turn-around, your greater is coming once you put your trust in Christ. Once you put your trust in Him, he can turn things around for you.
There's a song called "Trouble" that's kind of a mixture of praise and worship and Trinidad calypso. The song talks about the power and authority we have in God. When we call on that name its' not me or us, it's the enemy in trouble and he's got to move out of the way. One of the songs I have in my car on repeat is the reprise of "Greater" with Todd Dulaney. It really puts me in a good mood. I think he's really anointed and I'm very happy to have him on the album.
There's a track called "Praises Go Up" and that's with Deitrick Haddon. I'm excited about the entire album. It's one of those projects you can listen to from top to bottom and you wont have to skip a track because each track has its own special way of blessing you.
Q: You have also a few Gospel artists who are featured on the record. Who are some of them? And what was it like working with them?
SG: The first time I met Todd Dulaney was during this recording because we have the same manager, Apostle Veryl Howard. His personality and the way he deals with stuff, is very humble. It was really exciting to be working with him. I've always been friends with Deitrick Haddon. We've known each other for a longtime. It's always a pleasure working with him. He's a top of the line guy. He likes everything or a song to be done a certain way. He's very professional with how he handles it and it really helps me as a young artist to develop and to really want to learn more and do more. To have such great guys on the album is truly a blessing. When the album was done, I got with some of my musician friends like Jonathan Nelson, Jason Nelson and let them hear some of the stuff. They were blown away by where God is taking the ministry and stuff like that so this album is really close to my heart.