Atlanta Christian/gospel collective Maverick City Music and legendary inspirational artist Kirk Franklin’s “raw and vulnerable” boom-bap ministry arrive at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Thursday.
Hip-hop culture and the pulpit have created a beloved and storied tradition over the past three decades. But there’s never been a time when the hottest gospel act in the world is an Atlanta choir loved as much by Justin Bieber and Franklin as it is by 1,300 inmates at Miami’s Everglades Correctional Facility- Dade, Florida.
Maverick City’s 18th EP or album in three years is “Kingdom Book One”. It features artists who originally collaborated on a series of 17 songwriting camps held in 2018 consisting of 100 contemporary Christian artists and songwriters that resulted in 100 songs. The fruits of these gatherings have combined with the 16-time Grammy-winning artist Franklin and the prison inmates.
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“We call the venues we play kingdom because we’re not just black, brown, or white. We’re universal,” says Charleston-born singer, music director, and student Chandler Moore, 27, of Maverick City. in South Carolina. pastor. “Our message creates a community based on love for each other – it’s for everyone. (“Kingdom Book One”) has enabled us to love the least of them, those who are often overlooked.”
Notable tracks from Maverick City’s latest album include “Bless Me”, a gospel ballad with a hint of trap soul energy. For Franklin fans familiar with his quarter-century history of crossing singles like 1997’s “Stomp” from gospel to top 40 urban radio, it’s a familiar-sounding formula.
Moore says not using Franklin’s greatest artistic asset as “Kingdom Book One” would have been a “travesty”. The legendary entertainer is a “happiness bomb” whose style inspires dancing, screaming and fun, says Moore.
“Bless Me” joins tracks like “Jireh”, from Maverick City’s 2022 Grammy-winning Best Contemporary Christian Music Album “Old Church Basement” as being a song deceptively simple in its orchestration and lyrics. The work of the collective errs much more in the vein of simple call and response and conversational transmission of spiritual impulses than more complex manifestations of spirituality.
“Both Kirk and Maverick City, we create lyrics that reflect the life we live, not the lessons we’ve learned,” Moore says. “It’s a byproduct of our personalities. We’re comfortable being ourselves. Sometimes speaking in an articulate way doesn’t convey the exact emotion you’re feeling.”
The group was lucky enough to work with Franklin due to their explosion in popularity during the COVID-19 quarantine. Moore associates it with the idea that homebound and traditionally churchbound people sought out Maverick City when they “desperately searched for worship online” and discovered their music to create a soundtrack to meet that need.
Maverick City co-founder and Tribl Records CEO Jonathan Jay is proud of their work and the early evidence of the power of their music from Bieber and Shawn Mendez. In a 2021 Christian Post interview, he noted that “the work of the Holy Spirit and inspiration is universal. I think it’s something we learn. It’s an invitation that I think we all live.”
Jay and Tony Brown – the other co-founder of Maverick City – believe that the band’s message in the prison system impacts the lives of the band’s target fans. Many people can — as they have — relate to family members being incarcerated and coming out of incarceration, they say.
“It’s one thing to sing to make a difference, but it’s another to actually do it,” adds Moore, quoting Matthew 25:36, “I needed clothes and you dressed me, I I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.”
In addition to spending a week in a Florida prison to record their latest album, Maverick City Music also recently visited Rikers Island prison in New York.
“Brotherhood is everything,” Moore says when asked what drives Maverick City as a collective lately. “Jesus patterned his life (around brotherhood), and we worship God by the way we fellowship with one another.”
Namely, their series of nationwide live concerts and appearances showed the breadth and depth of their brotherhood’s reach.
In 2022 alone, they appeared on NPR’s Tiny Desk concert series, on stage at the BET Awards, and are currently performing in a nationwide series of capacity-packed arena shows.
“The greatest gospel artist of all time works with us, a collective that’s hot right now,” Moore said. “Our worlds of prophetic worship have come together and we are succeeding in reaching a more multi-generational audience.
“We’re at a season in our world right now where everything seems fake. Having some authenticity in the world is not us trying to look at a situation and put lipstick on a pig. At the Instead, we’re honest. People respect that.”