Few acts can cross-pollinate genres with ease and success as Angelo and Veronica. In a culture of segregation where black Gospel radio and the rest of CCM have tacit lines drawn between their artists and songs, Angelo and Veronica were one of the first artists to have hits in both camps. Not only was the husband and wife team successful in crossing racial boundaries, they were able to impact beyond the bounds of religious music. Back in the 90s, when Diane Warren was having her name credited to copious #1 hits such as Celine Dion's "Because You Loved Me" and LeAnn Rimes' "How Do I Live," she even requested that the duo cut one of her compositions.
"The Truth" is the couple's first album together since their 2009's "Still in Love." Though Veronica has had been releasing her own solo albums and a new biography since 2009, this is their much anticipated new album together in eight years.
Q: Congratulations on the release of your new album "The Truth." Why do you call it the truth?
We have been on a search for truth for over 25 years of being married and in ministry. But in the last few years especially, God has guided us into His truth. Some of these were hard truths but nevertheless, it still made us free. The way this album came about is that we walked away from the music industry. Yes, we quit music! That was around the time we started Higher Place church two years ago. God was prompting us to lay down music and surrender all to Him. So one of these hard truths was learning to forsake all. Jesus said you must be willing to forsake all to be His disciple (Luke 14:33). So we said goodbye to what we had held so dear. But when we did that, then came a flood of songs and ideas! Asking God what to do, He said, "do them". So we did, just to the glory of God. One of those first songs was "The Truth" based on John 8:31-32. This music that was just intended for our church eventually turned into an album. Long story short, the single "Higher Place" (2017) has made the Billboard Gospel & Adult R&B charts for most added without a promoter, label or distribution company.
Q: On this album you have re-recorded a number of your older hits. Why did you feel a need to revisit them?
There are certain songs we have always wanted to re-record. We were not in full control when we were with record labels. So it was important to make the songs we wrote our own again.
Q: How have you updated the re-recordings?
We re-recorded two older songs on this new album, "God Knows" and "Higher Place". Both these songs we wrote were very important to us and needed them to work better for us live. "God Knows" was slowed down and put in a lower key while "Higher Place" was speed up and placed in a higher key. Little things like that make a difference in a live situation.
Q: But you have also written new songs for this project. Does songwriting come easy for you?
Yes, songwriting has always come pretty easy for us. People might not know but the first deal we were ever offered was a songwriting deal. We were recognized as songwriters before we were recognized as singers! The ironic thing was we did not recognize ourselves as songwriters. We ended up signing a deal not only as songwriters but as artists and soon after won our first Dove Award for Contemporary Black Gospel Song of Year "God Knows", again for songwriting!
Q: Can you tell us a story or two of how God was working in your life through a couple of the songs on this new record?
I can tell you quite a few stories. The song, "Testify" was actually slated for my solo album, Made It Out Alive. At the last second, for some reason we pulled it from the album before it's release. I'm so glad we did. We re-recorded the song and made it into a duet. The song "Famous" is about fully surrendering all your dreams and plans to God, instead of desiring to be famous in this world but desiring to be famous in His eyes. The song "Bold" is an extension of my testimony of overcoming a spirit of fear and God turning a shy person into being bold for Him. The song, "Rise" is a call for the church to rise up spiritually recognizing that our fight is not against flesh and blood! "My God is Better Than Your god" is a bold declaration and very politically incorrect message that Jesus our God is the one true God! "Don't Worship Your Worship" alludes to the false worship movement that is occurring in the church today. Worship that is void of His Word and Holy Spirit is not true worship.
Q: Besides music you have started a church! How did the Lord called you to be church planters?
Through much fear and trembling! Not something we take lightly! We know we will be held accountable one day before God. So that is what we always keep in mind. Honestly, we literally ran away from the call to start a church. We moved to another state, which was a huge mistake. When that ended up not working out, we were then stranded for an entire year. So this caused us to do quite a bit of soul searching. That's when we began to pray as a family together every night. In that prayer time, one evening God revealed to me that Angelo was my Pastor and our children were our church members and this was our church! So that is how Higher Place Church came to be...
Q: How is the church doing now?
Higher Place Church is doing great and it has changed our lives. We have never been happier. People tell us that we preach a lot of things that other churches don't. We have church in our home near Nashville, TN but also give our messages online. People can join our Loving You to The Truth broadcast live on Periscope on Sunday 3pm @HigherPlacech or catch them on YouTube.
Q: Being in the music business since the 90s, how has Christian music changed? What are the challenges facing Christian music today?
We believe it's in an absolute state of emergency. But I know most don't recognize that. It has become something that God never intended nor is He apart of. It was bad in the 90's but has accelerated beyond what we could ever imagine. That's because the industry follows the world's trends. Many don't know that much of the Christian/Gospel industry is secular run and corporate owned. So the secular industries ultimately control the Christian music artistry. And thus the true message of the Gospel is distorted or silenced. This is why we have severed all our industry ties, so we can once again minister the Gospel fully and freely. Because when we stand before Him, God's not gonna care how many records we sold or how many awards we received. Only that we did His will.
Q: What are some of "the truths" about God and Christian music you have learnt along this journey?
I share a little bit about this in my book, How I Made It Out Alive (my testimony of overcoming fear and depression). People need to know that just because the label on the music may say "Christian", "Gospel" or "Worship" does not mean it is! This was our assumption about the Christian music industry 25 years ago. And we learned the hard way! Jesus said there are wolves in sheep clothing and you will know them by their fruits. In other words, you will know them, not necessarily by their words but by the lives they live. The Bible is very clear that one who does not practice righteousness or love their brother is not a child of God (1 Jn 3:10)! Also, it is important to note that as many new age philosophies have creep into the church this is also reflected in the Christian music today. So test every spirit to see if it is from God! Your Christian walk depends on it!!