The Gospel According To Torrence | Gospel music news, views and interviews Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:51:06 +0000 en hourly 1 Yes, No, Maybe 2014 Fri, 19 Dec 2014 23:41:22 +0000 Torrence nope

Yeah… I couldn’t do it. Sorry. What do you mean you couldn’t do it Torrence? Let me explain. As most of you know, for the last few years at the end of each calendar year I would recap gospel music released within that year and give it a Yes, No or Maybe designation so in case you were Christmas shopping or maybe just didn’t know whether you missed a release that year and needed that extra push to pick it up or worse that confirmation that it was just as bad as you thought it was. Last year I almost didn’t do it but so many people asked me where my list was that I gave in and did it even though I had a hard time with it. This year? It’s come up again and this time, as much as I love y’all I really can’t and here’s why?

2014 overall was “No” musically for me. I know I’ve developed a reputation for being outspoken, truthful and even a big “edgy” and none of that has changed but as I started to compile my list I got a bit sad and depressed at what I was writing and listening to. I’m not one of those industry people lamenting the sales slump and how little people are buying records, etc. It’s a problem across the board and not just in gospel music and the music industry at large is suffering in that way. Gospel music is the slice of a larger pie so of course it looks worse when you take a subset of a thing and look at its numbers individually. I’m not saying we shouldn’t work on addressing the issue, it IS still a problem and if gospel as a business is to sustain itself we do in fact need to work on gaining more financial and commercial success for the music.

But that’s not what had me sad. I was more upset because so much of the music was just… blah. The only worse than bad music is just OK music. When something is bad you can actually justify it. So and so can’t sing. So and so can’t write. So and so can’t play the piano worth a dime. But when so and so has the goods and just didn’t deliver? That’s the real tragedy.  And in the words of the great Walter Hawkins, tragedies are commonplace… still… in 2014. Was every record bad? No. Did every song suck? No. There were actually some bright musical moments this year, mainly from independent artists and local choirs who despite the industry implying to them they don’t want them, put out projects anyway and they were pretty great. But I gotta say, most artists just didn’t bring it. So before I bore you (and myself) with a long of list of No’s, Maybe’s a yes here and there, I decided to let it go this year. Chalk it up to something in the water. I’m moving on but not out.

I haven’t lost hope though. We have it in us to be great again and as 2015 rolls around I’m really hoping we get it together. So for what it’s worth, here’s some advice on how to make this next year better.

1. Make music YOU would REALLY like in real life. (I refuse to believe that many artists even like some of the foolery they put out.) And after you’ve decided that you really do like it, for real real and not for play play.

2. Play it for somebody else and see what they think. And not another musician who only gets your eccentricities and tells you you’re the dopest all the time.  If it passes both tests, you’ve probably got a great record/CD/song/album/EP/LP/BLT/MBA/Big mac/Or whatever you’re putting out.

3. Don’t be ashamed of who you are. It’s easy to turn on the radio or look at the charts and think “I’ve gotta sound like that.” If you’re churchy, be churchy. If you squall, squall then. If you like to comb Jesus’ hair with a mink feather in deep worship then do that. Just make sure it’s real and if you!  Don’t be tricked by someone else’s success, style or situation. One size does not fit all. Leave the formulas to math class and newborns. The charade only lasts for a while. Do what God told you to do. You’ll sleep better at night.

4. Record when you know it’s right. I know there’s a lot that goes into scheduling a release but hear me. We can tell when you rushed it. We also can tell when you were over it  and/or your label and you just threw something together to fulfill your contractual duties. But guess what you and we are left with? Your old “angry at the label” CD!

5. Lastly, lay off some of these effects! I know gospel can have a bunch of different styles and sounds but I do think it all should at least sound “human.” .  In 2014 autotune, melodyne and pitchwheels made music sound extremely robotic.  That note you can’t reach? That blend your bgv’s can’t match. That run that fell off? Re-evaluate it before you look to the engineer to make it work for you. If you couldn’t feel it, neither can we.

Well, that’s that and thanks for everything. I’m actually looking forward to next year’s music… Let’s do it!


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Exclusive New Music: “You Make Me Feel (Holiday)” – J. Moss & Faith Evans Thu, 30 Oct 2014 20:45:35 +0000 Torrence J. Moss Faith Evans

Today is a good day! A “holiday” even… (See what I did there?) I got my hands on some awesome new music that I just had to share. J. Moss is setting us up for the release of his new album Grown Folks Gospel which drops on Tuesday,  November 25. I’ve always been of the opinion that J. Moss’ music always had a bit of a “make you almost wanna bust into a 90’s R&B  Jodeci bodyroll but you kinda can’t because he’s singing about Jesus and you hope it won’t send you to Hell” twinge to it and I guess he decided to just embrace it on this project. Ha!

So even though I was already looking forward to what he’d bring on this record I got extra hyped once I found out that he had a song with whom you all know is my all time favorite – the oracle and voice of heaven and the angles herself – Faith Evans. The song is called “You Make Me Feel (Holiday.)” If this track is any indication I think I like where J. is going. Take a listen and in the comments let’s me know what you think!


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Torrence’s Talk With Zie’l Tue, 16 Sep 2014 22:07:48 +0000 Torrence pronounced-zy-el

Recently I sat down with gospel girl group Zie’l to talk about their new CD Pronounced Zy-El, working with Tonex and a lot more. It’s pretty funny, you have to watch!

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New Music: VaShawn Mitchell’s “God My God” EP Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:55:51 +0000 Torrence VaShawnMitchell_GodMyGod_Single_FINAL (2)

We could all use a little more music right? Well instead of making you wait until the full length CD Unstoppable drops this fall, VaShawn Mitchell decided to give fans a preview of what’s to come by releasing the EP, God My God. It includes the single by the same name as well as three brand new tracks “Amaze Me,” “This To You” and “Your Name…The Moment.” God My God can be purchased online anywhere you like to buy your musical digitally. Now I will say, if you’re smart you’ll get it on iTunes because if I know iTunes I’m sure they’ll put your EP purchase towards the full CD and you’ll save a few dollars, but what do I know? Ha!

Take a listen to God My God below!

  • PLAY – “Amaze Me” – VaShawn Mitchell
  • PLAY – “This To You” – Vashawn Mitchell
  • PLAY – “God My God” – VaShawn Mitchell
  • PLAY – “Your Name…The Moment” – VaShawn Mitchell
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    RIP: Professor Melvin Crispell Fri, 30 May 2014 03:06:33 +0000 Torrence Professor Melvin Crispell

    On Thursday, May 29, 2014 gospel music and truthfully music at large, lost one of the most prolific musicians and composers of our time. Professor Melvin Crispell has died.

    In music circles, jazz and gospel especially, to be dubbed a “Professor” is a title of the highest honor because it doesn’t just mean you’re good or even great. There will always be good and great musicians, songwriters, etc. But  there’s something about being deemed so great that other greats want to learn from you. Think about it. There are a finite amount of keys and pedals on an organ or piano. And after years of existence, one would suppose that with this limited resource at some point it would be almost impossible to create a unique or specific sound that had not already been heard or created. People have been playing and composing music for centuries before Melvin Crispell was ever born. Surely, they’d played or discovered every note, chord, and progression there was to find. But every now and then, someone comes and breaks the limits off of an instruments limitation. They miraculously discover infinite possibilities inside of a finite construct. I feel like I’m using big words and sounding rather lofty because I’m struggling to properly communicate the grandeur of his gifting. Very few people could take an instrument or a musical art form that had existed for so long and  managed to elevate and shape a unique sound that influences its style and musicianship to this day.

    One would think that after accomplishing such a feat that there would be no room for humility. But this was the foundation of Melvin’s genius and what made “Professor” such an appropriate title. Musicians and composers  borrowed from the sound he created and with a level of grace not seen in people of his stature, he taught them how. Melvin and I weren’t extremely close but because of our close musical circles I was blessed to be around and close to his work many times. As a choir music lover (expert, lol) I knew his entire catalog and there was something so fascinating about watching HIM play HIS songs. And the most honorable part of getting to watch him work was watching him teach. He didn’t keep it to himself. He was always sharing with his contemporaries and aspiring musicians alike.

    But I want to be clear, his talent didn’t stop at just musicianship. Yes, he could make a B3 sing and create  almost orchestral accompaniment from one instrument but he was a true composer, writing and stylizing songs that challenged our ears and minds but were still inherently singable. I’m an official “choir head” and as a minister of music, choir director, workshop facilitator etc., I never realized how many of his songs I “kept in my back pocket” to teach until today. Songs that if asked on a dime I was ready to pull out and sing. This one hurts folks. I was tempted to type that you had to know him to know what a gift he was to us and to our music but who he was is in the music and if you just listen, you will understand.

    Below are some of my favorite Melvin Crispell compositions that you may or may not know he was responsible for. If you weren’t familiar, get familiar. And if you are familiar, reminisce with me as we celebrate Professor Melvin Crispell. Also remember to keep his wife and son in your prayers along with the countless artists, choirs and musicians who counted him as a friend and mentor. Whoever’s playing for the choir in heaven today, slide over for just a second for “Potbelly” and learn something.


  • PLAY – “He Took My Place” – James Hall & Worship and Praise
  • PLAY – “Caught Up” – James Hall & Worship and Praise
  • PLAY – “Gain The World/I’m Not The Same” – James Hall & Worship and Praise
  • PLAY – “The Storm” – James Hall & Worship And Praise
  • PLAY – “What He’s Done For Me” – James Hall & Worship and Praise
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    RIP: Dr. Maya Angelou Wed, 28 May 2014 18:12:02 +0000 Torrence

    I don’t like to take pictures. Maybe that’s the wrong word. I’m afraid of taking pictures. Ok, maybe that’s the wrong word too. I’m somewhat uncomfortable with taking pictures with people or asking them to… Maybe that’s it. It’s hard to find the words for the reason that I’m somewhat picture averse, but there’s a point here. Because I can’t explain it to you, you’ll probably never understand. (Now, don’t get me wrong, if you ask to take a photo I’ll never say no or be shady or anything like that. Lol) Words are important and as much as I hate when they’re overused, I acknowledge and realize how necessary and powerful they are and can be.  On Wednesday, May 28, 2014  Dr. Maya Angelou who taught me… us…  the strength and profound impact of words died at 86 years old.

    I can remember when I met her. It was in 2007. She was a special guest on that season of Bobby Jones Gospel. All of us who were working on the show knew that she was coming and that we’d have to make some special accommodations for her arrival and her time there but we didn’t “get it” until she got there. Some famous people are all hype. They have a talent or gift that has put them on the world stage and they’re made into a “superstar” and with that comes a certain amount of fascination and admiration that is otherworldly. We believe in their uniqueness and their grandeur and the idea that they are made of something different… Above us in some way because they are so special. And if you’re ever in the position to meet most famous people, you know that a lot of that mysticism or fantasy quickly fades away. This in no way diminishes or takes away from their greatness but there’s a moment when natural and shall I say “basic” humanity becomes apparent. The veil is lifted and you realize (sometimes painfully) that they’re not all that you had expected or been made to believe they were. In the words of many of my LA friends you realize “they regular.”

    Dr. Angelou though, was different. The hype was REAL. She was far from regular. When you met her or came into her presence you realized that the thing you thought you’d feel or see was legitimate and tangible in her presence. As a poet and writer it’s easy to conclude that she had a way with words and was thoughtful in how she used them. But as a women in her everyday speech, to see that same care and thoughtfulness was striking. There’s a cadence, tone and intensity that she speaks with that you think is only presented on large stages and platforms. So to be greeted by her or have her answer your questions with the same level of grace and thoughtfulness was mind blowing and jarring in the most beautiful way. She didn’t put it on or turn it on, it was who she was.

    So when she arrived on set and moved through the halls and spoke to the staff and cast at different moments and somehow, despite her declining health managed to leave the impression that we were all individually meaningful and powerful just by speaking to us; I realized just how important words were. And with that, the potency your voice can add to words. We’ve read her works to ourselves and out loud but something happens when you hear it with the right voice. Literally as we moved about the rest of the day preparing for the show everyone had the same story. “Let me tell you what Dr. Angelou SAID TO ME.” Some of it was profound, some of it was just plain ole funny as her wit was top notch, and some of it was just as simple as “Excuse Me” or “I don’t mind” when asked to take a photograph.

    I took a lot of photographs that day all for people who for good reason would be remiss to not have a reminder of the day or the moment they got to be in her presence. As I held the various personal cameras and cell phones with their varying degrees of complexity (seriously though, the flash button should be front and center); I watched her encourage people and even admonish them not to kneel or bow next to her as she had to be seated for most of the pictures because of the stress and pace of TV production. I know some artists who will make you kneel down to their level when taking a photo so as not to appear “short” but Dr. Angelou had a level of pride and grace that no wheelchair could distract or discount.

    I didn’t take a photo with her that day. Because I don’t like to, or maybe because I’m afraid to, or maybe because…. Yeah, I’m still learning how to “use my words.” Thank you Dr. Maya Angelou for teaching us.


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    New Music: The Walls Group “Satisfied” Wed, 23 Apr 2014 22:02:33 +0000 Torrence THE WALLS GROUP PUBLICITY 2

    What’s up folks?

    It’s so fun to watch a gospel group’s progress like The Walls Group. This family group comprised of Darrel (age 23), Rhea (age 18), Paco (age 17), and Ahjah (age 16) started taking the internet by storm with their candid YouTube cover videos showcasing killer harmonies, a family blend and vocal tricks that were way beyond their years. Since signing to Kirk Franklin’s Fo Yo Soul Recordings, The Walls Group have released the single “Perfect People” and appeared on Bobby Jones Gospel and Sunday Best among other large platforms. Now they’re putting the finishing touches on their debut album and have released a new single “Satisfied.” Take a listen and tell me what you think?

  • PLAY – “Satisfied” – The Walls Group
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    Erica Campbell Debuts “Help” CD Cover Fri, 07 Feb 2014 22:50:05 +0000 Torrence EC_HELPCOVER_full

    Move over white dress and make room for that face! Erica Campbell recently released the cover art for her debut solo CD Help. It was shot by the uber popular Derek Blanks. With no clothing as a distraction in cover artwork past, the always beautiful Ms. Campbell decided to give us something simple and to the point. You can pre-order Help starting on Monday, February 10 and before actual CD release which is March 25.

    Check out the tracklisting:

    1. The Question

    2. You Are

    3. A Little More Jesus

    4. Help

    5. I’m A Fan

    6. The Atkins House

    7. Eddie

    8. Looking Like

    9. POG

    10. More Than A Lover

    11. Nobody Else

    12. All I Need Is You

    13. Changes

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    Bruno Is From Mars, Deep Saints Are from Venus? Mon, 03 Feb 2014 22:12:28 +0000 Torrence brunomars

    Or maybe Pluto, Jupiter? I don’t know. What, you thought I was really gonna go there again? How about not. It looks like it’s becoming a weekly issue where the “social saints” decide that anything on TV that isn’t gospel is sin and anybody watching it regardless of their relationship with God is a sinner. Nope, not gonna do it, but for all those who need a refresher, let’s go back HERE. Why? Because my position remains the same. So if you or someone you know had a deep spiritual issue with watching Bruno Mars’ Super Bowl halftime show? Read this!

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    Turn Off Your TV and Call Your Pastor Wed, 29 Jan 2014 00:36:16 +0000 Torrence Firstly, I want to shout out and congratulate the winners in the gospel Grammy categories.


    Break Every Chain [Live]

    Tasha Cobbs


    If He Did It Before… Same God [Live]

    Tye Tribbett, songwriter (Tye Tribbett)tyetribbettgrammy


    Greater Than [Live]

    Tye Tribbett

    Ok, now that that’s out of the way let’s get to “the issue.” Disclaimer: I didn’t watch the entire telecast of the 56th Annual Grammy Awards because I had a service to sing at and attend and got in a little bit past the midway point. I went back and looked at a few moments for context via my DVR but eh, the Grammy’s haven’t been that good in many years so I wasn’t all that pressed to do it anyway. However, I noticed something very odd during this year’s show. More so than in year’s past I noticed the “social media saints” going IN about every and anything they saw on the show almost to the point of being offended and I wondered “How did this happen?”

    Here’s a quick recap of some of what got some of your/their doilies in a bunch:

    1. There’s still a remnant of you/us who think anybody successful in any creative medium outside of gospel is a witch, warlock, secret society member or alien spy from some far off planet where the devil lives. These conspiracy theories we place artists in have got to be exhausting and I know your arms must be tired for reaching so far into the paranoid unknown to pull out some perceived Illuminati symbolism in every hand motion, belt buckle and eye shadow you see on TV. Just stop it.

    2. Next there was “Oh Lord Katy Perry done gone too far backlash.” I watched a bit of it and was so turned off that guess what I did next? I turned it off. (Actually, I fast forwarded to the next performance I wanted to see but the sentiment is the same.) Let me tell you how liberating that was. But seriously, despite Katy Perry’s recent history in secular music, lyrical content and just her past performances; the idea that lil Katy Hudson would never do such a thing and is such a disappointment because “she knows better” is a bit misguided. Newsflash, Katy Hudson is gone folks. She left here a while ago when she developed a thing for cherry chapstick. Not saying she’ll never return but to turn on the Grammy’s in 2014 and expect her to get up there and sing “How Great is Our God?” Not gonna happen. Let’s just be honest with ourselves.

    3. Then there was the “wedding.” I’ll leave that there.

    4. Then there was the “Social Media Mother’s Board” again who felt it necessary to criticize and chastise all of the other Christians who were watching it.

    Here’s the thing folks… This was the Grammy Awards, not the Stellar Awards. Not the Dove Awards. They aired on CBS affiliates across the country, not on TBN or The Word Network! Now let me be very clear, I’m a full-fledged Bible believing Christian. I’m proud of it, I’ll tell anybody I run into that I loves me some Jesus Christ and if they don’t know him, I’m happy to introduce you to him because he is awwwwwwwwesome. But just like a vegan shouldn’t walk into a BBQ restaurant looking for their next meal, I think we’ve got to be realistic in our expectations with what we DECIDE to subject ourselves to. I don’t go into Bloomingdale’s looking for Gap jeans, they don’t sell those there. Now if you’re personally convicted by what you see watching the Grammy’s or the music it celebrates, you probably should do like I did during the Katy Perry peformance and go watch something else. Remote controllers are anointed for just this purpose. The same goes for all y’all who want to jump on the Scandal, Love and Hip Hop, etc. bash bandwagon. If it offends your spirit, guard your spirit.kerrywashington

    If God called you to a specific level of sanctification that causes you to not watch or listen to any type of mainstream or secular programming, that’s cool. I won’t judge it, knock it or poke it with a chopstick. But make sure you don’t taint your witness by trying to force it on someone else. Now we can agree that there are some biblical non negotiables. For instance, it’s safe to say that randomly and unnecessarily shooting someone in the head always was and will always be wrong for everyone. I’m not sure if the same can be said for doing the electric slide at your cousin Flonasia’s wedding reception. Lighten up already.

    And for those things that are cut and dry or easy to identify as going against Christian and biblical principles, simply live and preach what you know is right and pray for those who don’t. But what shouldn’t happen is a legislation of your personal brand of holiness. The concept that America is a Christian nation isn’t entirely true. Is Christianity the predominant course of faith in our country, sure but it doesn’t dictate laws and legislation and I’m kind of glad it doesn’t. Why? Because I can go to two different churches on the same block and as doctrine would have it, there’s likelihood that they’d preach and believe different things. So who wins? If we took the belief of the church on the left and made it law, then the church on the right can’t practice what it believes? What if YOU go to the church on the right? There are countries in this world where religion rules government and quite frankly many of them aren’t Christian. And guess what? You, me and whoever else professes to be a follower of Christ would be persecuted. Now wouldn’t that suck? So keep that in mind the next time you try to legislate your beliefs. It could bite you.

    Lastly; Barack Obama, Queen Latifah, Macklemore, Ryan Lewis and no other entertainer or politician are your Pastor. Stop looking to them to lead and guide you spiritually. It’s not their job and you shouldn’t want them to.

    And for all you who need a scripture reference before you consider anything said to you, see below.

    Philippians 2:12 (KJV) – Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your OWN salvation with fear and trembling.

    We can talk about this some more if you want. Hit up the comments below!

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