Fortune thankful for prayers following four-car wreck involving drunk driver

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

James Fortune says he is sore but blessed to be alive after a four-car accident involving a drunk driver.

Just last week, a photo was posted to Fortune’s Instagram account along with an urgent request for prayer.  According to the caption, he was en route to church when struck by the drunk driver.  In the photo, Fortune appeared to be on a gurney but was responsive.

The next day, he took to Instagram from his home to thank his supporters for their prayers, adding, “If the enemy’s trying to kill me this early in the year, he gave me a notification that God’s getting ready to do something great in 2017!”

“God Will Make A Way” – Shirley Caesar

“God Will Make A Way”
Shirley Caesar
From the upcoming CD, Good God (Available March 26, 2013)
Light Records (2012)
Available on iTunes

Written and produced by James Fortune, the Queen of Gospel knows how to solicit the talents of current cutting edge artists to keep her at the forefront of gospel music.

Pastor Shirley Caesar’s single “God Will Make A Way” encourages that through friendlessness, bad reports from doctors and the like, “the God I serve, He’ll be right there–I know He will!”

The James Fortune imprint is all over this slow and soulful single that gradually builds into a robust declaration that “God will make a way / I know that He will / I’ve seen it and He will!”

Vesta Williams, R&B singer, has passed away

Photo from website

GMF is sad to learn that R&B sensation Vesta Williams is no longer with us.  Perhaps best known for her 1980’s hits “Sweet, Sweet Love” and “Congratulations,” news reports say she was found yesterday in a Los Angeles hotel room.  The cause of death is not available at this time.  She was 48. (Update: Some news outlets are now reporting her correct age as 53.)

Vesta’s talent was respected by R&B and gospel aficionados alike.  James Fortune said on his Twitter, “R.I.P Vesta Williams. Let’ [sic] keep her family in our prayers.”  Richard Smallwood’s Twitter read, simply, “RIP Vesta Williams #shocked.”

While Vesta was a standout R&B vocalist, many remember her soulful performance of “Try Jesus” on the Mississippi Burning movie soundtrack.

GMF sends condolences to Vesta’s family and friends.  They are in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

McClurkin headlines McDonald’s Gospelfest, talks about competitiveness in gospel music

By Libra Boyd

Shaundria Williams contributed to this feature

This is the second of a two-part feature with pastor and singer Donnie McClurkin.
Donnie McClurkin
“If you take a drive through any community, you will see the golden arches,” speaks Donnie McClurkin of the most recognized fast food chain in the world, “and if you drive through any community, you will see the entity of McDonald’s…has been wise enough to discern that the real pulse of the community is the church.”
McDonald’s Gospelfest returns to the New York Tri-State area on Saturday, June 18, 2011 at the Prudential Center in Newark, NJ.  The auditions are complete and competitors are preparing to share the stage with some of the biggest names in Gospel including Kirk Franklin, Bishop Hezekiah Walker, James Fortune & FIYA, Bobby Jones, Bishop T.D. Jakes, and the one and only Donnie McClurkin.
The competition, originated in 1983, showcases talent in several categories ranging from soloists and choirs to dance, step, groups, instrumentalists and gospel rappers. 

McClurkin is headlining this particular talent competition, and he will soon be seen in the judge’s chair on another.  McClurkin, who has signed onto BET’s Sunday Best again this season, recently talked with GMF about the McDonald’s Gospelfest, competition in gospel music, and some of his favorite new artists.

GMF:  Please explain the appropriateness of competition in the body of Christ.
McClurkin:  I don’t see it as competition.  I see it as iron sharpening iron.  I don’t see it as us competing; I see it as me being able to draw from you or critique you.  If you’re doing something right, I want to learn from it; if you’re doing something wrong, I gotta critique it and I gotta tell ya, “Hey, hey, that’s not gonna work.”  Even with Sunday Best, we’re sitting there…a thousand people come past us in every city, and [we’re] sitting there going, “Next!  Oh my God, no–don’t ever sing again!  Please, don’t ever–”  It’s all in fun, but it’s also to make sure people stay in their lane and in their place. So from that level, there’s no competition.  
On the level of myself…Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, CeCe Winans, Kim Burrell…there’s no competition.  Donald Lawrence–no competition.  We sharpen each other, and we sit back and wait to see who’s coming out with what CD…and it inspires us to go in and do more.  So that keeps the fresh move in the gospel industry, musically.  It keeps us on our toes and it makes sure that we get the best of quality, because we don’t compete, we compel and we push one another to do better.
GMF:  Along the lines of iron sharpening iron, who are some of your favorite up and coming artists?
McClurkin:   There’s a girl named Preashea Hilliard; she’s got a great CD!  “Fresh Fire” is one of the greatest songs.  Then you’ve got Forever Jones–the whole family–mother, father and kids.  They’ve got a great song out called “He Wants It All.”  There are some great artists coming up that you have never even heard of like Brittney Wright, people like Maurice Griffin, and even Duward Davis, and the list goes on…LeAndria Johnson…they are the new guys coming up and it’s our job to make space for them….Kirk Franklin is pushing Isaac Caree, and I’m taking Andrea Mellini and pushing her.  So, all of us are taking artists and pushing them; Donald Lawrence took DeWayne Woods and Sheri Jones-Moffett.  We’re bringing up these new artists, putting them out in the foreground, so that we can disappear one day.
GMF:   The Gospelfest takes place Father’s Day weekend.  Talk to us about your father or father figure and the impact he has had on your ministry.
McClurkin:  Well, there are two. (Read McClurkin’s complete response Father’s Day weekend right here on GMF, where he’ll talk openly about his biological father.)
GMF:  Beyond the gentlemen that are featured in the Gospelfest, will there be community leaders that will be honored as men of valor?
McClurkin:  Possibly.  We always do something for people who’ve passed away like Walter Hawkins and Albertina Walker; so some people will be honored.
Tickets for McDonald’s Gospelfest can be purchased at the Prudential Center Box Office or through Ticketmaster by calling 800.745.3000, or at For further information, please call the McDonald’s Gospelfest Hotline at 866.898.7772.

“Holy is Our God” – James Fortune & FIYA featuring Tye Tribbett

“Holy is Our God”
James Fortune & FIYA ft. Tye Tribbett

James Fortune recently told his Twitter followers that “Holy is Our God” was one of his favorites from his last album Encore.  Just prior to that tweet, the four-time ASCAP award-winning songwriter tweeted the link to a version of the worship anthem that features him with gospel sensation and ultra hyper performer Tye Tribbett.
This version of “Holy is Our God” offers us, as usual, Fortune’s passionately emotional delivery.  Enter Tye Tribbett about two minutes in to take the song to higher heights, exclaiming over FIYA’s escalating refrains that his worship belongs to the Father.  You can take a listen at Tweet My Song.
The beginning of this week, Fortune was working on music with his group for a CD that’s scheduled to drop January 15, 2012.