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JJ Hairston
"You Deserve It"



By Christopher Heron - Blackgospel.com

   It's hard to believe that JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise released its blockbuster single, "You Deserve It," in the summer of 2016. Now, six months later, the track has morphed into the most popular song in Gospel music, enjoying repeat, radio airplay and heavy rotation among worship leaders, from coast to coast. The hit has been resting at or near #1 on Billboard's Gospel Music charts for the last few months.

  It's been a slow but steady incline for JJ & his faithful choir from Connecticut...from avid, young, Christians to purpose-driven and devoted adults.

 JJ has embodied and embraced his role and transformation...from wild-eyed director of YP to full-time worshipper at City Of Praise Family Ministries...from ambitious artist to head exec at JamesTown Music. It's been a fantastic journey that's flourishing in some unexpected ways. Now, with the release of the labels debut album, "You Deserve It," on March 10, BlackGospel.com enjoyed an exclusive, eye-opening exchange with JJ that touched on his smash hit, his hobbies and his hope for the new album.

JJ, what gospel album were you blowing up in the car or at home in 2016?

  A: My favorite record of 2016 was "The Hill" by Travis Greene. I messed up the CD, so I plugged it in the car. I love that record. So many great songs, Travis is a good friend of mine, but even if we weren't friends, I really enjoyed that record.

I notice you're a very dapper brother. Is there a specific designer or online store or a place you love to shop to get the goods?

  JJ: Well, Chris, you want me to give away my secret? I can't give that away. Honestly, most of the stuff I get is from a stylist who takes care of me, but there is one store that I have in particular that's my secret spot. They treat me pretty good. I'm going to keep it a secret.

Give me one activity that you love to do when you have time for yourself
and the family?

  A: This is funny because I always say I watch movies. But I think people think like, "Okay, so what? That's no big deal." I'm really a big movie guy. All the Marvel releases I've seen. One thing that I do that my wife can't stand is I watch the same movie, over and over again. So movies like "Rush Hour, 1, 2, and 3." I've seen multiple times. So I'm really a movie guy.

Have you seen "Moonlight," "Fences,"
and "Hidden Figures?"

  A: Absolutely.

Alright. You're a movie guy.

  A: My favorite was "Hidden Figures." "Fences" was good, "Moonlight" was good, but I just thought "Hidden Figures" was a great movie.

Let's talk about music. Congratulations on the blockbuster success surrounding the single, "You Deserve It." Did you know right away that you had a special song?

  A: It's funny. You never know. When I first heard the song, I was in Kansas City and there was a worship leader, the pastor who actually sang on the song with me, Bishop Cortez Vaughn. It wasn't a complete song then, it was just a chant, and when I first heard it, I knew it was special.
  When we finally recorded it, I never knew it would do what it's doing now. There's no way to measure expectation, so I couldn't measure what I thought would happen. I knew it resonated with me. I have a good sense of what will resonate with other people, but I still had no idea it would bless so many people the way it has.

I initially thought the featured soloist
was Jason Nelson.

  A: That's what's funny. It's Bishop Cortez Vaughn. It sounds like Jason Nelson. Bishop Cortez Vaughn is a singer out of Kansas City, Missouri. Very few outside of Missouri have ever heard of him, but he's an awesome worship leader. He has this mix between Jason Nelson and Fred Hammond. Great style, so I knew I how I wanted to have him on the song with me.

What's a pleasant surprise is your Latino version of the song, "You Deserve It."
What's the inspiration for that?

  A: The Spanish/Latino market has been so integral to worship, but it seems like the Gospel community hasn't embraced them the way we should. The only one that really does is Israel Houghton, and, because of that, he's really gained their support. I knew this song was simple enough and was something that would resonate not only within our community but the Spanish community, as well. I know there's a strong contingent in Africa who've already embraced the song. So I feel like it's one of those songs that could translate to different nationalities. I really want to make it happen.

See JJ Hairston's live video of
"You Deserve It" -
Click Here

Your current album is your first release, under JamesTown Music. It's a huge move launching a music label. Was this a business decision? Was this an issue for control of your
music ministry?

  A: Well, yeah. Youthful Praise has been singing and making music since 1999. They say the definition of insanity is to continue to do the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result. We wanted to continue to make music, but we wanted it to grow and Entertainment One has been very gracious to us. They've taken us to a certain place, where it was like, "What's the next step?" And for me, the next step was actually owning our own music, our own masters, having the freedom to do what we want and when we want.
  So they gave us a strong distribution system, and they've also partnered with us and helped support us in things we didn't know. It's been a really positive experience so far. "You Deserve It" is our first single and to have your first single on your new label hit #1 was huge for us, so we're going to continue to grow by the grace of God.

What's the biggest challenge
as the CEO of your own label?

  A: Well, I think there are so many things that you take for granted when you're an artist, liking paying the bills, building relationships. There's a lot you take for granted; you think things just happen. And now that I'm on the other side of the process, I see how much has to be paid, every change to the graphic designs, everything that you want to do, every place you want to go.
  Everything has to be paid for; everything is an expense. So those are things that I wasn't aware of before, and now it makes me appreciate what major labels do to bring us as artists to where we are.
  But what's also great is now I can appreciate every victory a little differently. Now, every small hurdle that you overcome is a larger hurdle when you're doing it on your own. I'm really loving the process, and I'm going to continue doing what we do.

You're now serving at City of Praise Family Ministries. How has that responsibility as Director of Music & Arts
developed your artistry?

  A: What's amazing about City of Praise is it's a church full of love, and anyone can come. It's a large church, but it still feels intimate. There are people who I have the opportunity to lead worship for that I'll never meet, and that has helped me to grow me as an artist.
 How to lead worship, even though you may not have a personal interaction with someone who's part of the congregation...while you're leading worship, you still want it to connect when you're on stage. So it's helped me to grow in my presentation, as I lead worship.
 You don't want it to feel like you're just singing songs, doing a quick set and leaving the stage. I want it to be an experience for all of us, not just for me, not for those who are just in the audience, but for all of us together. And I think City of Praise has helped me to grow in that way.

People are going to enjoy the new album.
Is there a particular song that really
speaks to you personally?

  A: Yeah. There's a song that's on the deluxe version on iTunes called, "Great And Mighty God." That song, we did before with Deon Kipping on the "I See Victory (Deluxe Version," but it was kind of weird because it was released after the CD only online, so a lot of people didn't hear it.
  So we re-did it, and on the night of the recording, there was no expectation with this song. We just did it, and then there's this flow of worship that just happened in the house, something that none of us were expecting. When I listen back to it, I can still feel that same feeling I felt that night. That song to me, is one of the most impactful songs on the album.

My final question is about the title.
Why was "You Deserve It" the appropriate title for your new release?

  A: Initially we were going to say something about the fact that Youthful Praise celebrates 15-years as a ministry. We were going to talk about the journey but then after we thought about it, we understood all glory really belongs to God. I tell the choir all the time, "there are so many choirs, the only difference between us and them is the platform that God has given us."
  I believe He continues to honor us with that platform because He knows that we use it to give Him glory and He's the one that deserves it. So I felt this project is really just summing up the fact that He deserves the glory for everything He's done through us and for us over the last 15 years.
  We're dedicating this project to worshipping God, not to celebrating ourselves or any milestones or hits, we're just giving God glory for everything He's done through us and for us, and that's why we named the CD, "You Deserve It."

~ from blackgospel.com ~

 

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J.J. HAIRSTON & YOUTHFUL PRAISE
"You Deserve It"
 
(from You Deserve It)
Deluxe Edition


Amazon Discount Price
as of 8/23/2017

MP3 Album - $9.49



Stellar Gospel Music Award winning recording artist, J.J. Hairston of J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise, has added another chapter to his book of success with the launch of his own recording label, JamesTown Music with the release of the hit single, "You Deserve It." from the CD of the same name.."I'm excited about the launch of JamesTown Music and the vision God has given me not just for the sound of Youthful Praise but for other artists as well," says Hairston. Guest artists include Maranda Curtis and Travis Greene.

J.J. HAIRSTON & YOUTHFUL PRAISE
(I See Victory)


Retail Price: $13.98
CBD Price: $9.99
You Save $3.99
(Save 29%)

Choir leader JJ Hairston and the Youthful Praise team return with I See Victory, the group's seventh live release. Captured at Bloomfield, CT's First Cathedral, this thirteen track set includes "Bless Me" (ft. Donnie McClurkin), "I Feel You Moving" (ft. Jason Nelson), "Awe Of You" (ft. Karen Clark Sheard), and more. 2016 Stellar Award Winner Contemporary Choir
of the Year

J.J. HAIRSTON & YOUTHFUL PRAISE
(After This)

Retail Price: $13.98
CBD Price: $11.99
You Save $1.99
(Save 14%)

Following the massive Resting On His Promise, J.J. Hairston & the Youthful Praise choir return with an energetic live recording of worshipful contemporary gospel. After This features guest appearances from fellow gospel luminaries Tye Tribbett, LaShun Pace, John P. Kee and others across twelve powerful tracks.

J.J. HAIRSTON & YOUTHFUL PRAISE
(Resting On His Praise)

Retail Price: $16.98
CBD Price: $12.49
You Save $4.49
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From the Cathedral of Praise in Bridgeport, CT comes this 2009 release from Pastor James "JJ" Hairston and Youthful Praise. Resting On His Promise is another passionate set of contemporary choral gospel hits and standards, including "Still Mighty," "Great Expectations," "High Praise," and others.

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