Made Of Shade

Marvin Sapp Shares Holiday Joy

Gospel singer Marvin Sapp knows how to get a crowd on its feet with his celebratory gospel music. Sapp connects with his fans and congregation on an innovative musical sphere, bringing the gospel innovator three steps ahead of his competitors.

Sapp joined the gospel group Commissioned in 1990 and established a universal fan base. His career as a solo artist took off in 1996, spawning a number of hits including “Never Would Have Made It.”

The singer has also received prestigious honors, such as two BET Awards for Best Gospel Artist, a Dove Award, and a 2011 Artist of the Year Stellar Award.

His ingredients for constructing melodies and harmonies that stir music lovers is the formula he used to put together a delightful new Christmas album titled Christmas Card. The song selections are a perfect motif for the holidays. A few special guests include singer Joe and gospel group Commissioned.

As we marinate in holiday bliss, the gospel legend and eight-time Grammy nominee joins Made of Shade for a special holiday edition. We talk life, music and groupies…

Quassan: Let’s see…what do I say to a man that has motivated me on plenty of days when I just needed to hear some soul-stirring positive music. First off, thank you for “Never Would Have Made It” and “He Saw The Best In Me,” as well as the other classics. Do you even realize the magnitude of how your work has positively influenced so many folks? 

Marvin Sapp: When we started on this musical journey, our goal was to put out music that elevates the minds and spirits of our listeners. We gave the listeners great music and, as a result, a movement exploded. Individuals were greatly impacted. At times, you might need someone to encourage you to see in yourself what you may not be able to reflect upon. I’m just honored that God used me to impact people who need to be encouraged.

Quassan: Absolutely! I listened to some of the cuts on your forthcoming Christmas album and I was rocking out to “Feels Real Good!” I can’t stop listening!  You and singer Joe also got together for the cut “Home For Christmas.” What was that like?

Marvin: Yeah we did! [Laughs] It was an awesome treat! I picked up the phone and asked Joe to join me on “Home For Christmas”. After myself, Mike Winans Jr. and Chip Dixson wrote the song, I could only see myself recording the song with Joe. I consider Joe one of the most prolific singers of our day, he’s also an accomplished musician and vocalist.

Quassan: Black folks have always told stories and we have a legacy of stories that carries from generation to generation. The song is one form of story. What’s your remedy for putting together masterpieces of story in the form of song?

Marvin: I make sure the audience will understand the whole message of the song.  Whenever I approach a record, I make sure we put together songs I believe the people are going to be attracted to as listeners! We start with a high point, pull them in and offer a transitional song.

Quassan: Christmas is so much more than the superficiality of what’s often displayed by folks in society. Do you think folks have strayed away from the true meaning of Christmas?

Marvin: I think society gets so caught up in the gift giving aspect of Christmas; they lose sight of the real meaning of Christmas. Even though the music is funky on Christmas Card, my goal is to get people back to the true meaning of Christmas. The true meaning of Christmas should surpass any gifts you desire to give to anyone.

Quassan: What is Christmas morning like for your children, Marvin II, Mikaila, and Madison?  

Marvin: We’ve spent Christmas in Florida for the last 10 years. Before the passing of my wife, Christmas included gifts and things of that nature. We did plenty of spoiling. Now, we get up early, go to breakfast, and then go to Disney World for a great time.

Quassan: Fred Hammond invited you to join Commissioned in 1991 after Keith Staten was no longer part of the group. Commissioned is also on your new Christmas album. What do you remember most about working with Commissioned back in the day?   

Marvin: I remember our camaraderie. Those guys taught me how to be a responsible man and father. We traveled all over the world, but no one had any baby mamas. We had groupies like any other group, but our level of integrity was so great.  I still maintain that level of self-respect in my life today.

Learning how to perfect harmonies together is another cool thing I remember.

So when I got ready to do the record, it was a great honor having Fred Hammond, Carl Reid, Mitchell Jones, Marcus Cole and Keith Staten join me.  Hopefully, we can collaborate again.

Quassan: I think the musical energy you and Commissioned bring to the recording of What Child Is This and Honor The King is truly reflective of that past camaraderie. You guys still have that music torch. On another note, why do so many artists get entangled in groupie drama?

Marvin: The anointing can be attractive. When you have a sudden form of power as it pertains to popularity and notoriety, all of the above will attract people to you.

Artists and preachers have a responsibility to think about the decisions we make as it relates to power, popularity and notoriety. You need to understand the responsibility that you have as a Christian and try to maintain that responsibility. All of us have a struggle we deal with daily, but I think we should work on the struggle and try to heal. To whom much is given, much is required. I work hard to maintain my level of integrity.

Quassan: Thank you for joining MADE OF SHADE via JET and happy holidays!

Marvin: Thanks for inviting me, happy holidays to you as well!

Quassan Castro is a news and entertainment journalist. Connect with Quassan on Twitter at @Quassan.