Youthful Praise and worship leader, James "JJ" Hairston was founded in 1992. The 21-35-member choir was birthed out of their home church, Cathedral of Praise in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where the group remains as one of the church's choirs. They have sung background for artists such as Destiny's Child, Pastor Shirley Caesar, and SWV, to name a few.
The group has stood out as one of the Top Ten and most popular gospel groups in the country duet to #1 hits such as "After This." The Soul Train Award nominated group has been quite visible over the last year since they performed a Christmas duet with Miss Piggy on Lady Gaga's primetime holiday TV special and also performed on "Good Morning America" this past spring.
Now the group welcomes gospel powerhouses such as Karen Clark Sheard of The Clark Sisters, Donnie McClurkin and Jason Nelson to their 7th live CD project "I See Victory" (Light Records/eOne Entertainment).The 17-track CD hits stores everywhere on October 28th.
We are so honored to catch up with James "JJ" Hairston for this Hallels' exclusive interview.
Hallels: Thank you so much for your time. Congratulations on the release of your forthcoming release "I See Victory." I believe "I See Victory" is more than just the title of the album, but it's also the theme of the entire record. What inspired you to this theme? And how do you understand this idea of "I See Victory"?
Hairston: The theme "I SEE Victory" came from a story in the Bible where the Children of Israel were outside the wall of Jericho, and God told them "SEE" that he had given them the land of Jericho. So in spite of the Great Wall in front of them they had to SEE that they had the victory. So many times we have a Great Wall or obstacle in front of us, but we have to SEE that we have victory over it.
Hallels: Can you tell us a little about your journey? How did you come to become the leader of Youthful Praise?
Hairston: When I was a teen ager Shawn Brown asked me to join the choir. I later started writing songs and co-directing the choir. When Shawn left to become a pastor I became the leader.
Hallels: "I See Victory" was recorded live. What was most memorable about the evening you did the recording?
Hairston: The most memorable moment was when Donnie McClurkin brought Karen Clark Sheard, Vashawn Mitchell, Jason Nelson, Deon Kipping and Others to the stage to sing our single "Bless Me" with him.
Hallels: You did work with some of the biggest names in Gospel music on this new record. Can you tell us who some of them are?
Hairston: Pastor Donnie McClurkin, Karen Clark Sheard, Jason Nelson, Vashawn Mitchell, Kierra Sheard, Deon Kipping and more.
Hallels: I believe "Bless Me" is currently climbing up the Gospel chart. For our readers who have not heard this song, can you tell us what it's about?
Hairston: The song reminds us that God never runs out of blessings. So there's no need to be envious of someone else's blessings because God has blessings in store for all of us.
Hallels: As a worship leader, what is the greatest blessing and challenge that comes with this calling?
Hairston: The greatest blessing is the opportunity to help people get into the presence of God and prepare their hearts to receive the Word. The most challenging thing is getting people to forget about all of their daily distractions or troubles and to concentrate on giving God praise.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to purchase "I See Victory" or find out more about you, where can they go?
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