Gospel star Jonathan McReynolds never wanted to be a singer. As a matter of fact, the self-proclaimed nerd is one to shun the spotlight, never wanting to bring too much attention to himself. Ironically, God gave Jonathan a gift that takes him all over the globe, sharing songs of inspiration in front of thousands of people. It’s safe to say McReynolds has become the millennial voice of gospel music. Not too “churchy,” but never compromising his faith, it’s easy to see why he’s becoming everyone’s favorite gospel singer. We had a chance to speak with the 25-year-old native of Chicago about the upcoming release of his sophomore album “Life Music: Stage 2,” and his side gig as a teacher at his alma mater.
JET: You have become the millennial voice of gospel, almost like this generation’s “Kirk Franklin.” How does it feel?
Jonathan McReynolds: I call it a blessing. It’s something I would never, ever think of myself. It’s been a blessing just writing about my experiences, my friend’s experiences, and our conversations really resonate with a lot of people in my generation. It’s a blessing to know that transparency and honesty, is what made the gospel so good in the first place. I’m glad that my music is doing the same thing.
JET: As a child, was it your dream to be a singer?
Jonathan McReynolds: No, not at all. I’m a nerd, an introvert, and never wanted to be in the front at all. I only started singing in front of people because girls liked it in high school, and it gave me more confidence.
JET: Did you grow up in the church?
Jonathan McReynolds: Yes. I’ve been in church my entire life. I was literally born in the back of my church. I was born a couple of hours after church ended.
JET: You recently graduated from Columbia College in Chicago & now teach music there. How do you manage to find time to teach in your busy schedule?
Jonathan McReynolds: It’s tough and a little tiring, but I really love teaching. It helps me flex my muscles as a teacher, smart guy, gospel music lover, and somebody who wants to make an impact. It has allowed me to do all of those things. I love it as much as I love singing, so I always try to make time.
JET: Your new album Life Music: Stage 2. What is the meaning behind the name?
Jonathan McReynolds: It speaks on the ups & downs of being a Christian, so it’s definitely still life music, but I think that I’m in my second stage of life. When I wrote the first album, I was in a different place and life has changed a lot, along with my expectations and pressure. Also, it’s literally a different stage with a different platform. I didn’t expect anyone to hear the first album. I’m also more mature in my sound.
JET: On Sept 18, 2015, you’re having an album release/birthday party here in Chicago. Tell us about this event.
Jonathan McReynolds: I’m really excited to have a lot incredible friends coming out, both in the audience, and on stage. I have India Arie, Israel Houghton, Chante Cann singing. They are all on the album, so they’ll be singing at this concert as well. We’re going to do most of the new album and just have fun.
JET: What’s your favorite song on the new album?
Jonathan McReynolds: They’re all my favorite. I think the song that ties the entire album together is “Maintain,” which is the one I did with Chante Cann. It’s a pretty song, the words and the prayer.
JET: Who’s your musical inspiration?
Jonathan McReynolds: I have a lot. Kim Burrell is the best vocalist of this generation. John Mayer and India Arie are incredible writers, who did it the way they wanted to do it. Sam Cooke. Stevie Wonder.
JET: Leave us with a word of inspiration.
Jonathan McReynolds: My mother told me this a long time ago in passing, “God doesn’t set you up to fail. He doesn’t get a kick out of your embarrassment, but provided a way for you to be ‘shown off,’ for his glory.” I’m just grateful that he’s been letting my light shine.
Want more Jonathan? Visit http://www.jonathanmcreynolds.com.