John P. Kee Aims to Stop the Violence with Music
Last month, gospel music lovers enjoyed a night of power packed praise with the Crown Prince of gospel — John P. Kee! The legendary recording artist launched the Life & Favor free concert tour at Chicago’s Life Center COGIC with one message: “Stop the Violence.” The Grammy nominee and Stellar Award winner chose the city because of the unprecedented murder rate there over the past few years.
Kee went down memory lane with classics and billboard favorites including Jesus is Real, Standing in the Need of Prayer, We Walk By Faith, They That Wait and Life and Favor. However, the street preacher braved the crime-laden south side of Chicago to give songs of comfort to families and friends devastated by gun violence. “Our hearts go out to parents and their community. When we read that a city has recorded more than 500 homicides in a year, we, the Body of Christ, absolutely have to stand up and do something,” Kee said. The pastor of New Life Community Church in Charlotte, N.C. is committed to use his platform to make a difference, city by city.
JET: Why are you committed to help stop the violence in Chicago?
JPK: A few months ago when I read the story about Jonylah Watkins, a six month-old baby killed on the south side of Chicago. I’d heard some of the many stories about senseless shootings but this one stuck out more than the rest — it was a baby, I kept repeating. I found out she was not just a gorgeous little baby, her name, Jonylah, hit home. I have a baby girl named Joniya — she’s my heart. I could not imagine getting the news that she’d been murdered and become another growing statistic in the area of gun violence. This story, I could not shake. Our church prayed for the family. My heart was saddened to admit this is a major problem. Not just in Chicago but throughout our country.
JET: Describe the positive changes you’ve help to make in your hometown?
JPK: We just never gave up. In less than 10 years, we totally changed the fabric of our own community. We took a prostitution, drug and violent crime area of Charlotte, North Carolina known as Double Oaks (or D-Rock) and turned it into what is now known as The City Of Praise. Some of the model programs that also served to counsel youth, while offering moral, psychological and spiritual support included Adopt a Family, Night Court, YStand, X Drug Dealers Association, One Step Program and Guns for Cards. I was told that nobody would ever give up a gun for a gift card. I’m grateful to testify that to date, we’ve taken more guns off the street than our local police department. From the elderly to kids as young as 14, we’ve seen all types of guns surrendered in this project. I just believe that at least one of the many guns we’ve retrieved prevented a crime and brought a sense of peace.”
JET: Do you think your tour has been impactful?
JPK: “So far, the Life and Favor tour has been in Flint, Chicago, Davenport, Cincinnati, Louisville, Lexington and Atlanta. We did this by taking the message of hope and peace directly to the streets. We set out on an eight-day tour to use our celebrity to draw attention to the violence in our communities and offer our solution to the problem. I would have to encourage pastors and leaders not to be afraid and commit to doing something. We had an opportunity to speak to so many pastors and families that had experienced these issues personally. I strongly believe the church has to become more involved in the community. I salute [Chicago] Pastors (Corey) Brooks of New Beginnings and (Chris) Harris of Bright Star Community Outreach for daring to be different and addressing the matter head on. I’ve always had a genuine love for Chicago and plan to continue in the fight to let young men and women know there is an alternative to violence and death.
We’re dedicating my new project, “Teach Me How To Love,” to the memory of lil’ Jonylah Watkins.
About Effie Rolfe
Effie Rolfe is a media consultant, personality and speaker. For years, she was the “voice of inspiration” each Sunday morning and middays on Chicago radio. She also speaks at schools, churches and workshops. Effie writes for several publications and is the author of The K(N)ots Prayer. Visit her Website effierolfe.com; like her on mseffierolfe.com and follow her via @effiedrolfe.