Gregory ‘Gregory D’ DeMyers reveals inspiration behind song ‘My Time’

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Just before Gregory DeMyers penned his single “My Time,” he had a question. You see, DeMyers, known as Gregory D,  is a self-described family man who loves the Lord. He writes music and sings whenever given the opportunity. He oversees the streaming of weekly services at his local church, Tabernacle of David Church in Lansing, MI. He even owns a production company and recording studio. Essentially, Gregory is a good steward of his time, talents, and resources, and he is faithful over the work of his ministry. Still, at one point the multi-talented singer-songwriter, who is also a multi-instrumentalist (keyboard, organ, drums, and bass), wondered when his time would actually come to reach the masses. 

Then Gregory heard from God.

“God spoke to me and said, ‘I am making room for you.’” Gregory, an ordained elder whose ministry started in gospel rap before evolving into praise and worship, subsequently wrote the praise and worship tune “My Time.” He sang the uptempo declaration prophetically over his life and ministry, encouraging himself to trust God’s schedule. Since then, he and his aggregation known as Gregory D and Company have debuted on multiple TV shows and landed on several Billboard charts. “When Marvin Sapp, an icon, was #31 on the charts, we were holding the #36 spot. That was a true wow for my career, especially as an independent artist.”

“As an artist, you want every project you release to do good,” Gregory reflects. “After years of putting out music, it came to a point in my life where I questioned if I was good enough to do this.  That’s when God assured me that my time is now. That’s the encouragement I want to give to others: You are good enough!  Don’t let failures stop you from pushing through.”

“My Time” was released as a collaborative effort between Gregory D Productions, LLC and Indie Blu Music. He plans to keep the music coming with the release of another single this year titled, “Created.” You can follow him on and all social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Tiktok, and Clubhouse @GregoryDmusic.

Joy Bogonko talks debut EP, shares best advice she’s ever gotten

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Joy Bogonko is an emerging voice for her generation. The young Minnesota raised up-and-coming musician, singer, and songwriter chatted with Gospel Music Fever about her self-titled EP and offered advice to her contemporaries. 

Libra: Joy, it’s such a pleasure to talk with you.  Please tell us how your music journey started and who your influences have been.
Joy: It’s a pleasure talking with you as well! I’ve always been into music from a young age. I grew up playing different instruments and loving how music brings people together. I was about 15 when I started my current journey of singing professionally. I’ve been influenced by my big sister the most for sure because she has always believed in me and my potential. Her unwavering support has honestly been a huge contribution to where and who I am today. Musically, I’ve always loved Adele, Israel Houghton, Rihanna, Jonathan McReynolds, and Lauryn Hill, because of how they embrace their unique voices. 
Libra: Talk to us about your current EP.
Joy: My current EP is generally a positive theme about strength, weakness, and conquering what life throws at you. Something a bit more personal to me is understanding that no matter what anyone’s going through, we are not alone and our feelings are valid. 
Libra: This is your debut EP.  There’s a lot in store for you.  What are some of your music goals?
Joy: I hope to connect with more people, collaborate with other artists, and get better at my passion.
Libra: What do you believe is the biggest issue your generation faces, and what is your advice to empower them?
Joy: The biggest issue my generation faces is not being heard. I believe in young people so much and as a young person myself, it can feel really hard to speak out on what I believe in. I think the best advice I can give is always remember that any contribution counts, no matter how big or small. We are a force to be reckoned with and I think the rest of the world is starting to catch up. 
Libra: Speaking of advice, what’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Joy: The best advice I’ve ever been given is that there is no competition. When I think of myself as the person I’m competing with, it drives me to excel while also giving myself the compassion and grace I deserve. 
Libra: These next questions are totally random. Here we go!  iPhone or Android?
Joy: iPhone.

Libra: Texting or talking?
Joy: Talking.

Libra: Last song you downloaded?
Joy: “Black Is Beautiful” by Mayyadda.

Libra: At what venue would you most like to perform?
Joy: I would love to perform at Radio City Music Hall!

Libra: What’s your dream music collaboration?
Joy: My dream collaboration would be with Tori Kelly or H.E.R. 

Libra: What do you want to make sure GMF readers know?
Joy: I want to make sure that readers know that they are valuable and that they matter. And don’t let anyone ever tell you otherwise!

Joy’s current single is “He’s Not Done Yet.”  You can listen to it here and visit her socials here

David Billingsley’s ‘village’ inspires debut piano album, ‘Hymns From Grandma’s Living Room’

By Libra Boyd 
Actor and southern gospel singer Andy Griffith said, “Hymns connect us with the past and with each other in the present.”  While it’s true that some people believe hymns are old-fashioned and others think they are timeless, David Billingsley treasures them as essential to a solid foundation rooted in tradition, legacy, and heritage.  This is why he aims for his new album, Hymns From Grandma’s Living Room, to offer hope, strength, and peace – especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
David has gained attention in the music community as a keyboardist, composer, bandleader, songwriter, producer, entrepreneur, and educator.  Considered by many to be a child prodigy, he started playing the piano, organ, drums, and tambourine at the tender age of six and debuted as a professional musician at the age of eleven.  During college, he played professionally in the Twin Cities and abroad when he joined forces with the Sounds of Blackness, Darnell Davis & The Remnant, Robert Robinson, James Grear & Company, and others.  Since 2017, he has played keyboards and sung background vocals for R&B artist
Stokley & The Vü.
Last June in Minneapolis, however, David unplugged.
“I decided to unplug and do hymns because that’s how I was raised,” says David.  “I wanted to go back and pay homage to my Village, my upbringing, and my wonderful childhood memories of my loving and sweet grandmother singing those beautiful songs.  Sometimes we’d sing, praise, pray, and cry.  An hour would pass and we realized that God had come and sat with us and visited us.  Heaven on Earth.  Now.  That’s what happened on a weekly basis in my grandmother’s house.” 
The multi-talented musician stepped away from nearly all the instruments he learned prodigiously and turned to the Steinway B grand piano to record Hymns From Grandma’s Living Room.  The title gives a nod to where he cultivated his homemade talents.  Fourteen sacred odes of praise fill the debut solo piano album, including “It Is Well With My Soul,” “I Surrender All,” and “Holy, Holy, Holy.”
“There are so many songs that can provide healing, strength, and comfort in times of a pandemic. And so many songs are filling those voids in people’s lives.  The thing that sets hymns apart though is how sacred and biblically sound they are. You can’t help but build on a solid foundation when you sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God. That’s what the Bible tells us to do.”
David’s interpretations are both soulfully dynamic and nostalgically homespun.  His grandmother Doris’s affirmation sets the project’s intimate tone from the opening track.  As he renders his arrangement of “It Is Well With My Soul,” her sentiments are expressed in a heartfelt letter read by her daughter, also named Doris: “Your playing the hymns, praise songs, and melodies has brightened, revived, restored, and given me hope and strength to carry on until God calls me home.”
God called Grandmother Doris home in 2006, but she is very present in David’s mind and music.  “I can hear Grandma’s voice and feel her spirit through these hymns.  What a great time we used to have.  We were being freed and doing music ministry without even knowing it.  That’s been the basis of my life, music, and artistry…A few weeks ago I realized that in that letter she was giving me the blueprint to my sound and purpose.”
While fulfilling his purpose, David has found himself balancing ministry ambitions with urgent family matters.  Health challenges have afflicted members of his immediate family.  In the midst of celebrating the release of new music, he is candid: life is hard for him right now.  Still, his message to self and others is to persevere.
“I guess I’m just trying to say never give up on your goals and dreams.  Let nothing stop you until your life mission and song has been realized and comes to fruition.  Life has been far from easy for me as of late in every way, but I still choose to continue pressing forward even when it’s uncertain.  So I’d just encourage everyone to follow their heart’s desires and watch God meet you when you start to put in the work.  I love God, my family, friends, and fans.  Without my Village, I’m nothing.  With them and God, I can do all things.”
Hymns From Grandma’s Living Room is available today on all digital outlets.  For physical autographed CDs, visit

Lucinda Moore on the critical moment that inspired single 'Still Alive'

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever 

Since her childhood days in Bridgeport, CT, singing in her church and with local choirs, Lucinda Moore’s music ministry has blossomed into a career that has included a fiveyear tenure as background vocalist for the legendary Tramaine Hawkins, a trio of solo recordings, and a Stellar Award for Traditional Female Artist of the Year.

Lucinda’s current single is titled, “Still Alive (I Survived).”  (Click here to read GMF’s review.)  The song as well as her testimony and words of encouragement are nothing short of inspirational.  

Libra:  Lucinda, our conversations go back a lot of years–to the days of AOL Instant Messenger!  How dope has God been for you?

Lucinda:  Doper than dope! God has been the dopest of Dope-tivity!!!!!

Libra:  Your current single is “Still Alive (I Survived),” and a song like that isn’t sung without a testimony.  What’s yours?

Lucinda:  Well back in 2015, the spine doctor found a cyst the size of a watermelon on my spine.  He told me that if I did not have surgery right away that I will be paralyzed in the next week.  I did the surgery!  During recovery from the surgery, the doctor came into my hospital room and told my mom that my heart stopped on the table.  I overheard it and when I came to, I began to write the lyrics.  Cedric Thompson and I co-wrote together.  He produced, rearranged, added to it, and what you hear, magic happened!

Libra:  How did you and Cedric come together as writing partners for this song?

Lucinda:  Cedric and I have known each other for years!  I first got to know his wife, LeJuene Thompson, when I was about 14 years old.  Then, she married Cedric!  Just from being in the gospel industry, I’ve gotten to know the both of them.  Preparing for my new single, several people had suggested for me to get Cedric Thompson to produce the CD!  I am so glad I listened!

Libra:  Lucinda, what is your word to people in the church who are in survival mode and barely hanging on?  There are hurting people in pews, pulpits, and choir lofts every week who are contemplating whether their lives are really worth living.   

Lucinda:  My word to those who are [on] the verge of giving up is, I was where you are.  I thought about ending it all.  I felt like God [had] forgotten about [me].  I’ve been through hurt, brokenness, divorce, unloved, lied on, rejected.  I’ve been through physical, mental, and sexual abuse!  But there is one thing that I did to be healed 100 percent from all the trauma and you must do the same:  Forgive yourself, for blaming yourself, so you can love yourself!  Once you begin to love yourself, nothing and nobody can ever hurt you again!!!  Then you can give the testimony of “I’m Still Alive, I Survived!”

Libra:  It’s important for readers to know that you’ve been in the gospel industry nearly 30 years.  I’m sure you’ve seen and experienced a lot while active in ministry, and you’ve also seen the industry itself evolve.  What do you feel is currently much needed but not often present in today’s gospel music?

Lucinda:  Well, I think I was the last of the Mohicans – one of them – to experience how the gospel industry was when there were more than three major labels and it wasn’t easy to get into the industry.  Now you have streaming, digital outlets, and do-it-yourself recordings that are hitting the charts!  What is much needed in this Gospel industry is remembering where we came from and not forgetting the tradition of music like the hymnals, the choirs on Sunday mornings etc.  

Also, things are not handed out to recording artists that easy!  In order to be a NATIONAL recording artist, you have to keep that drive and work hard for it!  You can’t give up because somebody told you, “NO!”  Keep going!

Libra:  If you weren’t doing gospel music yourself, what would you be doing?

Lucinda:  I would have either been a detective or would have been a forensic scientist!  From a young child, I have always been intrigued by what I watched on TV.  I’ve always been into TV shows like America’s Most Wanted, CSI, and other shows that pertain to law enforcement, solving, and piecing together investigations!  Straight out of high school, I ended up singing for Tramaine Hawkins for years [and] then started my own career.  I have no regrets!

Libra:  What else would you like to share with us?

Lucinda:  To everybody who is reading this, please go stream or purchase “Still Alive (I Survived)”!  My babies need some sneakers and barrettes for Christmas and Easter!!

Lucinda (@Lucindamoore1) is on Snapchat, Twitter, Periscope, Instagram, and Facebook.  Her website is

Worship Leader Krystal A. Livingston: Living God’s Songs In The Key Of Life

By Andrea R. Williams
Some people are just blessed with an ability to take you into the Throne Room of God.  One of those gifted worship leaders is Krystal A. Livingston.  A gospel artist, songwriter, and exceptional vocalist, Krystal A. Livingston is walking in her purpose.  Her talents have placed her front and center and even found her singing behind or opening up for mainstream and sacred artists such as Josh Groban, Kenny Loggins, and Donnie McClurkin.  Although she’s honored for the national platforms she’s been given to minister, her sole reason for singing is to share the gospel through song.
Although Krystal had been singing all her life, she got her first taste as a recording artist when she dropped her debut, My Journey, His Glory. Cleverly, the project was a two-part set.  The first part of the project, My Journey, lays bare her life and addresses issues like low self-esteem or feeling stuck in one’s life.  Understanding the value of transparency and how her story can uplift others, she chose songs which would allow her to share her personal experiences.  The second half of the release, His Glory, includes songs of adoration, praise, and worship to the Lord.  My Journey, His Glory saw the release of an unforgettable single, “Shoelaces,” a track encouraging listeners to look up for their identity in Christ instead of looking down in despair at their troubles.  In addition to the singles from the project, she has also dropped a song, “Great Things,” a classic praise anthem penned by Tessie Hill.
Her most recent creative work is a track called Winner.”  Winner (Hupernikao) is an inspirational power ballad which finds the psalmist showcasing her alto vocals while encouraging the believer.  Another track penned by the vocalist herself, Krystal delivers a rousing performance flaunting her multi-octave range.  The song is also a testimony for the singer, reflecting on a time when it didn’t seem like she was winning at all. 
A few years ago, I had two positions that abruptly ended, Krystal recounts. “At the time, I did not understand what was happening; things were going so well and then, all of the sudden, the rug was pulled out from under me -TWICE.  Later, I realized that I was getting comfortable and God had to make me uncomfortable to push me into my purpose.”  These “unfortunate incidents” were right after she had mentioned to friends her aspiration of full-time music ministry.  The Lord told her to dust off the songs He had given her and to move forward.
And move forward, she has.  Born and raised in the Bronx, New York and a longtime resident of Connecticut, Krystal recently made the move to Atlanta where she plans to put her music ministry in first gear.  No stranger to the educational aspect of music, she taught a Gospel Music Master Class at Yale University.  A graduate of University of New Haven (UNH) in Connecticut, she founded and directed the UNH Gospel Choir and became the university’s first adjunct professor teaching Gospel Music Performance. Prior to her move to Atlanta, she was Executive Director of Worship & The Fine Arts and Director of Praise & Worship at her home church, New Life
Christian Fellowship in Ledyard, CT.
Krystal has caught the attention of many, inside and outside the music field.  The songstress was recognized with a proclamation from New London, CT, and was honored by the National Council of Negro Women.  She has netted awards and nominations for her music as well, including a Connecticut Music Award nomination for gospel music in 2015 and a Holla Back Gospel Music Award for Best Female Artist in 2017.  Also an actress, she portrayed jazz great Nina Simone in a one-woman show, An Evening with Nina Simone.”  In 2018 alone, she made numerous television appearances including Rejoice In The Word with Bishop George Bloomer on the Word Network, Celebrate on TCT-TV, Babbie’s House and Atlanta Live on WATC-TV, Nite Line on WGGS-TV and Club 36 on WBPI-TV.  Lord knows, there is much more to come from this rising songstress and dedicated worshipper.
Andrea R. Williams is a gospel music insider, artist, musician, producer, and owner of the PR firm, Tehillah Enterprises. A former GRAMMY Awards Project Manager, she is author of the book, Live The Life You Sing About: How To Live With Integrity In The Gospel & Christian Music Industry. 

Five Questions With Modern Day Cure: ‘Jesus is the answer’

Modern Day CureBy Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Worship band Modern Day Cure has enjoyed warm reception since the release of their current single “Confident.”  With Aaron and Tamar Chipp at the helm, the Nashville-based group has shared their ministry across several states and venues since 2012, sharing the stage with the Newsboys, Sanctus Real, and other artists. 

Libra:  Tell us about the moniker Modern Day Cure.

MDC:  We get our name from Hebrews 14:8 which says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” To us, this makes Him the modern day cure.  Jesus is the answer the world needs today and He will always be.

Libra: How do you describe the band’s sound?

MDC:  Our sound can be described as contemporary worship with pop/rock elements.  We’re exploring new sounds and feel like we’re finding ourselves in this new season as a band.

Libra:  Modern Day Cure is a young bandjust getting startedso to speak.  What do you want the band to be when it “grows up”?

MDC:  God’s given us a big vision, but we know it’s in His control and time frame.  We try to stay faithful with what He’s given us in the moment.  We like to say we’ll go as far as He takes us.

Libra:  Besides your own music, what’s currently playing in your personal music playlist?

MDC:  We love The Belonging Co (our home church), Elevation Worship, and Bethel Music.

Libra:  What else would you like to share?

MDC:  We’re in the process of recording a new EP to be released this fall…and would love to partner and serve churches, events and festivals. For more info visit

Daja Rice on new book ‘Daddy’s Girl’ and the journey from heartbreak to redemption with father

Below is the abridged transcript of my interview with Daja Rice, which first aired June 4, on “The Gospel Music Fever Show” with Libra Boyd. #GMFRadio
By Libra Boyd
Photo | Montez Hilliard
Daja Rice is a singer, professional theater performing artist, playwright, and author of the book, Daddy’s Girl. She’s originally from Spring Valley, NY and presently resides in GA with her husband, Jonathan. Aside from serving in ministry with her husband, she has spent much of her career performing on stage and enhancing the education of youth through the performing arts.
Libra:  Daja, how are you?
Daja:  I’m great!  How are you?
Libra:  I’m doing well, I’m excited [for you to talk] to us about your brand new book, Daddy’s Girl. I really want to get into that, but before we do, I would love for you tell our audience about your ministry. You are in ministry with your husband Jonathan and currently, you are based in Georgia. You and Jonathan both sing. Tell me a little bit about that, because you’ve come on Facebook Live, and maybe done some singing [on there], and you’ve done some worship events.
Daja:  Yes, we have a duo called The Rices and we sing [gospel music] together. Singing is something that we enjoy doing together, but we don’t just limit our marriage ministry to that. We also enjoy having candid and transparent conversations with people about marriage and the lessons that we learn. As a matter of fact, this past Friday (June 1), we celebrated our first year anniversary–
Libra:  Congratulations!
Daja:  … as a married couple. Thank you, thank you, thank you! So excited that we made it.
Libra:  Absolutely.
Daja:  Because millions didn’t.  We’re one of the couples who did. So, to commemorate that, on Thursday, we had a conversation on Facebook Live, called “365 Things I Know About Marriage”. And the reason why we called it that–we didn’t actually talk about 365 things–but we called it that because a lot of times people don’t think that newlyweds know anything about marriage, and that is so untrue. You literally learn something new every single day. Hence the name, “365 Things I Know About Marriage,” because we learn something new every day. And so if you wanna shoot over to Facebook,, you’ll find that video there.
Photo | Tierre Peterson

Libra:  Awesome. And you have a brand new book called Daddy’s Girl. Tell us about it.

Daja:  Daddy’s Girl is an autobiographical story about my process from heartbreak to redemption with my natural father, which inspires women to not only literally acknowledge and embrace the power of the father/daughter relationship, but it also shares personal experiences, like I said, with an effective strategy to promote healing and redemption period. Not only with your natural father, but with anyone or even with yourself. And so I’m really excited about it, because it’s always a beautiful thing when God turns your test into a testimony, and so I’m hoping that this will be a blessing to people.
Libra:  [I like how readers have] the opportunity to reflect [through] the writing prompts [that] are connected to each of the nine chapters of the book.  You said in the book that your assignment is to “help people choose forgiveness, even if you don’t get an apology.” Your assignment is to “help people to choose love, even if your heart is broken.”  How did you find this place? How did you come to understand this as your assignment?
Daja:  I just believe that [just as I] overcome by the words of my testimony, so will other people and so I believe that because God gave me this beautiful story, I have a mandate on myself to share it with other people and let them be blessed by it. And so that’s how I came into knowing that as my assignment. But before it becomes an assignment, it’s just a reality. Sin is a hard reality to face when you do have to do things like forgiving people who don’t say sorry, or love when your heart is broken. Those are hard things to do. And so what I wanted to do through this book was share my experiences with other people [and] tell them how I took responsibility for my healing and redemption.
Libra:  You talk about the point at which you were with your then-boyfriend, now husband. You recalled the point that you were with him at the fair and you had a breakdown. But it was a breakdown that ended up being the breaking point that provided the segue for your breakthrough. Tell us more about that.
Daja:  It was a powerful moment because I realized just how emotionally unstable I was, and that’s a hard reality to face too–because it provokes you. You have to do something. And you can’t just sit back and blame other people for how you feel; you have to take responsibility for it. So I listened. In context. My husband–or my boyfriend at the time–and I were at the fair. We’d had a really great time, it was an awesome day, and then we get in the car and I just burst into tears [over] what we thought was nothing. But it wasn’t “nothing.” It’s never “nothing.” So [I went] on this rant about how unhappy I was.  He let me let it all out, and then he [said] to me–and I don’t even think he knew how powerful this was at the time, “You want me to be your father and I can’t be. I can’t be your father.”
Because I had a void there for my natural father, I was expecting Jonathan to fill areas that he was not meant to fill. And when you do that, it’s a very dangerous thing because then you start to place unrealistic expectations on your counterpart. And everybody comes into our life for a reason, and so I compared people to rubber bands in Daddy’s Girl. I said, “You know, rubber bands will do just like people. They’ll do what they’re supposed to do, but if you try to stretch them too much, eventually they’ll pop.” And that’s what I started to see with Jonathan. It was just, you know it was one of those “pop” moments, like, “Girl, I love you, but I can’t be all of this for you. I can only be what God has called me to be for you, and that is a boyfriend right now. And one day it might become a husband, but it will never be a father. That’s not what God called me to be for you.”
And so once I faced that reality, I also faced the reality that some of the pain and some of the hurt that I was experiencing, I was actually bringing on myself.
Photo | Tierre Peterson

Libra:  Was Jonathan aware of the nature of the relationship between you and your father at that time?

Daja:  Yes, but Jonathan (pictured right), even though he was aware of the nature of our relationship, only got my side–because my father lived almost a thousand miles away from me. And so my father and Jonathan had met, but they didn’t have a lot of interaction with each other, and Jonathan didn’t have the opportunity to make his own judgment.
It took me a little time [to come to terms with the reality that Jonathan presented me that day at the fair], but he was right. And I didn’t realize that until maybe a couple weeks later. So when I finally realized that he was right, I didn’t even tell him that he was right. I just went to work. I sat with it, I reflected on it, and then I did something with it.
Libra:  And what strikes me is that you handled all this with care. You mentioned in the book that you received your father’s blessings to write Daddy’s Girl, which I think is critically important because your father is still a part of your life. He was at your wedding. How is your relationship with your father now, and what has been his response to the completed book?
Daja:  My relationship with my father is real. It’s a real father/daughter relationship. We talk often. He gives me his fatherly advice. He disagrees with some of the things I do. I disagree with some of the things he does. We love each other through it. It’s a real father/daughter relationship. None of that idealistic stuff that I used to hold him to, and so our relationship is redeemed in that way. And what he thinks about this book is that people will be blessed by it, just like I do. And so he’s just super supportive.
Libra:  Well that’s really encouraging. That has to mean a lot to you.  How can folks purchase Daddy’s Girl?
Daja:  You can go to and shop there.  I am [also] going to start a virtual book club on Facebook. So if you want to be notified about that when it starts, just subscribe to our mailing list on the website [I just mentioned], and you’ll be notified when that starts as well.

60 Seconds with Rapper Mike Teezy

By Jane M. White
GMF Special Contributor
Mike Teezy is a rapper, singer/songwriter, musician, and dancer whose music – inspired by everyone from Kirk Franklin and Michael Jackson to Kendrick Lamar and Busta Rhymes – is creating a buzz throughout the gospel and urban inspirational community.  I recently caught up with him for a literal minute at the 2018 Rejoice Awards, just before he was announced as the winner in the Urban artist category.
Mike, how did you get started?

I started off with poetry.  I was always behind the scenes playing the drums and stuff like that.  Poetry was my outlet to relieve stress or whatever I was going through at the moment, and then I thought, why not put it to a beat?  So that’s pretty much what God started doing with me.

What is your latest album called?

I actually just dropped my new EP, Szn (pronounced “season”).  I dropped that on my birthday, April 7th.

And how can people purchase it?

It’s on Spotify, Amazon, Apple music – everything!

Where are you based?

I’m in Winston-Salem, NC at Faith Christian Outreach Center, where my father [Michael Tyree] is the pastor.

How can people contact Mike Teezy?

My website is

Russell Witcher talks about ‘Coming Out’ memoir, healing balm of sacred music

Russell Witcher
By Libra Boyd
Russell Witcher knows something about resilience.  It is one lesson he generously shares in his recently released book, Coming Out of the Ashes. 
The accomplished organist and pianist has spent most of his life making music, dedicating his time and talents to God and serving churches in North Carolina and Virginia. Currently, he serves two North Carolina churches, Union Grove Baptist Church in Hurdle Mills as minister of music and First Baptist Church in Raleigh as lead musician and worship leader. Russell is also an ordained minister, recording artist, and more recently, author of Coming Out of the Ashes.
The 140-page memoir details a dark time in life during which Russell balanced a secular job with music duties at a church he previously served. During this time, colleagues at his place of employment brought allegations against him which Russell says were ultimately proven false. Still, the humiliation, investigation, arrest, court appearance, and negative media attention plunged him into isolation and an overwhelming sense of helplessness.
Seven years later, Russell has found healing in the writing and telling of his story. He has also found healing through music. The trial deepened not only his faith, Russell explains, but his worship.

I have a deeper appreciation for hymns like ‘Amazing Grace,’ ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus,’ and ‘Great is Thy Faithfulness,’ because [God’s] grace sustained me and was truly made perfect in my weakness. He was also my friend when it seemed like everyone had deserted me and turned their backs. During this period, I definitely ministered from a place of pain. At times I would become so ‘full’ that I was left speechless for the moment…tears streaming down my face with stretched out arms in worship to God but surrendered in total dependence on Him for the strength that I needed to get through this ordeal, as well as the understanding of what He was teaching me through the trial.  And He has truly been faithful and unfailing in His love and care for me.

“Prayer Will Change Things” from Russell’s very own 2008 CD, Sacred Notes from a Minister of Music, also grew more relatable.  The song recounts the well known New Testament story of Paul and Silas in jail and the midnight prison shake-up.  Russell now has his own testimony.  He recalls,

When I was thrown in jail (in the pit, as I said in my book), I lived that experience. I was there until midnight when [my wife’s cousin], who is a bailsman, came to my aid. Not only was it a familiar Bible story, but it was a reality for me.  It was prayer that pulled me through.  

Russell shares his story to inspire people who are confronted with despairing situations that they too can make it through their difficult season.  Coming Out of the Ashes was a featured title at Book Expo America 2017 and is available at Amazon.

‘Wilson Idol’ winner Alexander Blount: ‘I am ready to see where He takes me on this journey’

Alexander Blount

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

With gospel vocalist Shawn McLemore at the helm of the judges’ panel and a $1,000 prize and other perks at stake, Alexander Blount emerged as the 2016 grand prize winner of the “Wilson Idol” Talent Show, held Saturday, September 24, at Fike High School in Wilson, NC.  The annual competition was presented by Summerville Promotion and Production Company and Tall One Outreach Ministries and emceed by GMF’s Libra Boyd and Rev. Justin Barbour. 

‘Wilson Idol’ is an event that showcases the singing, instrumental, and spoken-word talents of Wilson area youths and adults.  The talent show opens doors for many participants and exposes them to the greater Wilson community and beyond. 

Libra caught up with the East Carolina University sophomore and newly named “Wilson Idol” to talk more about his musical journey and ambitions. 

Libra:  Congrats on your win!  Please tell us about your musical background and interests.

Thank you! I started singing at church and school when I was young, like most children. I know I wasn’t more than three or four when I started singing. I have always loved music and the positive effects that it had on people, but I never looked at the bigger picture of what Christ had for me. I definitely didn’t start taking my singing seriously until 11th grade. My chorus teacher, Mr. Jeremy Tucker, really started showing me the possibilities of what I could do with music, and I’m glad that I listened. I attend East Carolina University’s School of Music, and I’m majoring in music education and vocal performance. As far as my interests go, I really like what every genre has to offer. Music is a universal language that musicians and listeners all speak, but if I had to choose [a genre] I’d [choose] gospel and jazz music.

Libra:  Who are your musical influences?

Lauryn Hill, Marvin Winans, Jermaine Dolly, James Hall, Cory Henry, Pastor Andrew Barbour, Greg Cox, and Stephen Pender. They all have brought something totally different to the world of music, whether it [be] their own rendition of a song or something [completely original]. I really like how they were comfortable to be themselves. They did things their way instead doing what everyone else was doing, and the music that they have created is absolutely great.

Libra:  The judges selected you from 15 contestants as the grand prize winner of “Wilson Idol” for your performance of VaShawn Mitchell’s “Turning Around for Me.”  How did you select that song and what was your prep process like?

I actually heard one of my friends at church sing it, and I really loved the message behind it. Things will turn around as soon as you put your faith in Christ and stop worrying. I would practice at least four days out of the week to make sure I had everything down. Eventually, I [got] my parents to come hear me. Then once I got with the ‘Wilson Idol’ band (Rod Lewis, Jamal Lewis, Jesse Johnson, and Zyyayre Johnson), we all clicked and I was like, ‘Yeah, we have something special here.’

Libra:  So you expected to win?

Honestly?  No ma’am.  There were a lot of great vocalists in the competition. But I’m grateful that I won!

Libra:  What are your music ambitions?

I plan on releasing a single within the next few months and eventually an EP…then an album and eventually [I want to] collaborate with different artists. I’ve been talking to Jamal Lewis and Stephen Pender about it. Jamal is a great producer and over the course of my ‘Wilson Idol’ experience I got to know him; he’s a great guy.  Stephen is a family friend, and he’s like my big brother; and in my opinion he’s one of the best organists on the East Coast. Along with them, my parents and peers are backing me so I can’t wait to get to the next level of my career.

Libra:  With more exposure and larger platforms, it becomes important to remain grounded in and covered by your local assembly.  Would you like to shout out your church?

I would absolutely love to! Everyone in Willing Workers Apostolic Holiness Church (Lucama, NC)–young and old–have watched me grow and perfect my craft daily. They all are my family and I truly love them!

Blount adds,

I [also] really appreciate the opportunity that Dr. Mildred Summerville gave me. I thank my parents and grandparents, my siblings, my girlfriend, and everyone that is connected with me for believing in me. Most importantly, I thank God for the gifts and talents that He has instilled in me and I am ready to see where He takes me on this journey of life. 

In addition to the $1,000 cash prize, Blount’s win comes with a trophy, a chance to perform for gospel great Pastor Shirley Caesar, a part in the stage production of Dr. Mildred Summerville’s award-winning gospel play, “Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child,” and an opportunity to record with artist Dr. James Robertson.

GMF congratulates Blount as well as the runners-up in the youth and adult divisions.