A Youth Benefit Concert called on Maurice Griffin, BET’s “Sunday Best” vocal finalist; Melvin Eugene Cotton, III, a.k.a. G.E.N.E.; and Jeremy Wallace and Peerless Songs of Worship for jammin’ recently contemporary gospel and hip-hop rap and exalting the name of Jesus.
It evidenced the artists’ popularity and why they were called to the praise scene of the First Church of Palm Coast. Pastor Gillard S. Glover had given Director Nathaniel Shropshire, III, the initiative to start a youth choir and to take it to a different level.
Griffin, G.E.N.E., Wallace and Peerless Songs of Worship were joined by the Adult Choir and the Youth Choir for an appreciable turnout and cheering from children concertgoers, who captured a spectacular show. Griffin was a finalist during season two of the gospel competition TV show.
Shropshire said it was an opportunity to merge together the Youth Choir and the Adult Choir – and that the Lord had predestined him to be there and plant seeds of excellence in each and every one of the young people. Shropshire was the commentator for the concert, presented on behalf of the Youth Choir.
The Youth Choir, nonetheless, performed Martha Munizzi’s “Excellent (All the Earth is Yours)” and Kirk Franklin’s “Smile.” The Adult Choir, with Octavia Evans in the lead, sang Jonathan Butler’s “I Need You Lord,” and young Alexis Williams vocalized Tamela Mann’s “Take Me to the King.” The orchestration was performed by Ernest Williams and Jared Evans on piano and organ, Carlos Felder on drums, and the setting conducive to additional backup.
“Ladies and gentlemen, without further adieu, please put your hands together for the gospel-rap style of G.E.N.E.,” Shropshire said.
G.E.N.E. is known as “God‘s Evangelist Neutralizing the Enemy.” He is a “P.K.” – a preacher’s kid – hailing originally from Montgomery, Ala., and now living in Orlando.
He’s “got talent,” producing events and managing artists, and having a heart attesting that young people should not perish. He wants them in a saving relationship with Christ “knowing that it is cool to be saved and living for the Lord.” G.E.N.E., himself, was saved at the age of 11. And, he’s a newlywed!
“As Christian believers, we are called to strive daily and reflect the life of Jesus Christ,” said G.E.N.E.
“And so, we are going to do that here in this dark world. We are going to love, live, laugh, and pray hard, and we are all going to be worshipers. Amen?”
In rhythm and rhyme in hip-hop style, G.E.N.E. brought his griot rap to “I’m So Official” and “I’m All In.”
Songs and testimonies
With clapping and foot stompin’, Jeremy Wallace and Peerless Songs of Worship sang the gospel genre to the lyrics of, “First Fruit” and “We Come to Worship.”
“You may not drive a car that you want to drive,” Wallace witnessed, “but you are not walking. You don’t eat the food that you wish you could eat, but you are not starving. No matter what the situation is, look at your neighbor and say, ‘I trust Him.’”
Wallace and Peerless Songs of Worship are music majors at Edward Waters College. He started the group at home in Pahokee and continues it with students on campus. They are professionals with know-how and experience in recording music and working in the studio.
Because the genre of gospel includes testimonies, BET’s “Sunday Best” vocal finalist Maurice Griffin stepped in to sing Israel Houghton’s “Resurrection Power (Oh, Clap Your Hands).” Griffin is celebrating 10 years as an independent artist, and, just a week earlier, he celebrated his 29th birthday.
He has a diverse, pristine vocal style, and has elevated his music ministry to a global audience.
Delivering his CD, “Believer The EP Project, Hear Us,” the contemporary gospel singer was the headliner of the show.
He is a native Chicagoan, who once made Jacksonville his home, and is now living in Houston.
Griffin vividly reflects that it was 19 years ago that he started his ministry. But, the year before, he was homeless for six months.
“I thought I was dead, freezing in the cold in the City of Chicago,” he said. “But to come from the coldness and brought out of the darkness into the marvelous light – Whoa-ooh-oh, Glorify, Glorify His Name. Resurrected Power…,” Griffin bellowed while singing and frequently getting his praise on.
“Some people just don’t understand where God brought you from,” he said. “They only see what they see. So I am grateful to dedicate myself to God. I said, ‘God, if you give me a second chance, I’ll serve you to the day I die.’’’
Showing himself to be a powerhouse vocalist and a passionate worshiper, Griffin, in addition, sang, “Hear Us,” “Somebody Prayed for Me,” and Al Green’s “Depending on You.” He has sung with New Direction, Canton Jones, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Bobby Jones and VaShawn Mitchell, among other artists.
As always, remember our prayers for the sick, afflicted and bereaved.
Birthday wishes to my niece, Kelli Coaxum, in Manhattan, June 12; Ray C. Henderson, June 14; my 95-year-old dad, Rufus S. Coaxum, in the Bronx, including the Rev. Pat Coley-Ford, June 15; Danielle Delaney and Lamar Wilkerson, June 16.