He has a debut single that’s burning up the radio airwaves, gospel music industry moguls like Marvin Sapp praise his musical talents and he’s toured with Kirk Franklin — arguably one of the greatest contemporary gospel icons in modern history. This incredibly talented gospel artist is Jason Nelson’s CD titled “Shifting the Atmosphere” drops May 22; it’s a must-have for lovers of gospel music.
“Shifting the Atmosphere” is Jason’s major label debut on Verity Records, the largest gospel music label in the U.S. Before this new CD release, Jason recorded several albums: Place of Worship (2008), Brand New Day (2006) and I Shall Live (2005).
Nelson, 38, was recently in Philadelphia at F.Y.E. music store (May 18) for a CD signing of his new release. Before his store signing, the Tribune caught up with Nelson for an exclusive one-on-one interview in the lobby of the very posh Hotel Palomar – Philadelphia on 16th Street. Commenting about the success of his single and the release of this new CD, Nelson shared, “It’s very humbling to know that God’s Hand is really on this song and that people are really embracing it … it’s helping people express themselves from a spiritual and worship perspective, so, that’s why it’s working.”
The New York Times hailed Nelson’s “Shifting the Atmosphere” as a “… religious quiet-storm ballad, with percussion chimes and rustles and traces of wah-wah guitar, about the effect of a powerful unseen force. For (Jason) the unseen force is prayer; for you it may be something else.”
“I think (“Shifting the Atmosphere”) is resonating because people are trying to find ways to express how they really feel about God … and this song really speaks to that,” shared Nelson. Nelson believes that his song, “Shifting the Atmosphere,” is one of those songs that can be recited to help usher people through their most difficult life moments.
Nelson recalls the epiphany he had to write this song, in 2010, “I was literally on a train, on my way to New York, and the words just dropped in my spirit … I stopped what I was doing, I picked up my phone, I didn’t have a pad with me at the time, I picked up my phone and I typed (the lyrics) into my phone … not knowing how significant those words were going to be … I’m very grateful.”
There’s no shortage of positive feedback from the gospel community regarding Nelson’s musical talents and performing skills: “Jason Nelson is an example of the new generation of incredible talent being birthed in gospel music. The voice, the character, the lifestyle speaks hope to those who are searching for authenticity,” shared Kirk Franklin.
“We’ve been fans since Jason’s first album. It was obvious then, as it is now, that he’s God’s man. This song is just another reminder. What a blessing,” shared the Grammy award-winning gospel duo of Mary Mary.
Before going solo, for several years, Nelson had sung and performed with Gospel great Donald Lawrence, and Donald had this to share about his protégé: “Jason Nelson is a former Donald Lawrence & Company member and is by far one of my favorite male singers. The ability, warmth and tone of his voice just (does) it for me! Get ready for Jason Nelson, a timeless gift and (an) amazing talent.”
Marvin Sapp offered this about his friend Nelson, “Jason Nelson is probably the most gifted and prolific singers of our time. I believe that everyone should have this CD as part of their collection. It will really minister to you in a powerful way.”
“These people don’t have to be nice, but for them to take the time to articulate how my ministry has impacted them, it’s amazing. Marvin (Sapp) is a really good friend of mine, we get compared a lot,” said Nelson. Nelson wrote “Thirsty” the title song of one of Sapp’s biggest chart topping CDs, in addition to other hit songs.
Nelson maintains a level head about receiving such praise from gospel music’s super elite, “It’s humbling, very humbling. Not only are they peers … they are people I look up to and some of them I have really good relationships with … you never know how artists view your music … and to know that they really appreciate what I do, it’s exciting and humbling at the same time,” said Nelson. Nelson is no stranger to the gospel community; he’s played bass guitar for some legendary gospel artists like Yolanda Adams, Karen Clark Sheard and BeBe Winans, to name a few.
Many artists have favorite songs that have greatly influenced them, for Nelson, there are many. But recently, he’s drawn inspiration from one song by the Gospel group Forever Jones that’s been a great encouragement to his spirit, “They have a song called, ‘Just The Way’ — it’s a song from God to us, it’s something about the way the lyrics play out … it’s something about how the lyrics speak to me and how that song is performed.”
Nelson and his wife Tonya are parents of a 12-year-old daughter and a 6-year-old son. “My family is my first ministry,” declares Nelson. In addition to having a potential chart-topping CD, Nelson, a native of Maryland, is the senior pastor of the Tabernacle of Greater Bethlehem Temple Church in Baltimore.
When the multi Grammy Award winning gospel group, The Clark Sisters, performed at the Dell Entertainment Center on Aug. 2, The Tribune went backstage for an exclusive interview with Karen Clark-Sheard, the youngest sibling of the group.
“Philly is like our second home, we’re always excited about coming here, because Philly give us so much love,” said Clark-Sheard.
Clark-Sheard said when she and her sisters take the stage, the fans in Philly, “Ignite the fire and give us so much support and love. Most of all we’re here to see a life changing experience take place through what God has given us,” [the ability to exalt Jesus through the gift of singing.]
The Clark Sisters include Jacky Clark Chisholm, Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark-Terrell, Dorinda Clark-Cole, and Clark Sheard. The four women are the daughters of the late great gospel musician and choral director Dr. Mattie Moss-Clark. Moss-Clark, twice divorced, raised her children in their hometown of Detroit. Moss-Clark is credited for creating the three-part harmony performance — the separation of vocal parts into soprano, alto and tenor — a technique that has become quite chic among many gospel choirs and groups today.
“It’s just very, very exciting to be here. I don’t know if I’m more excited about having the opportunity to minister, or if I’m going to run into [The Clark Sisters] back here,” said Rev. Alyn Waller, senior pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church, one of the local headlining gospel performers for the Philly concert.
The Clark Sisters are famous for their unique vocals, incorporating a sophisticated soulful blend of harmonies and riffs, each contributing a distinctive harmonious sound. Twinkie is commonly considered the leader of the Clark Sisters. She has served as the group’s chief songwriter, music and vocal arranger, and producer.
One of the many gospel music artists that Clark-Sheard admits that she listens to is Maurette Brown, a New York native and singer of the gospel hit “It Ain’t Over.”
“Maurette is so anointed,” said Clark-Sheard. “Actually, I’ve been following Maurette Brown before she became really big. She’s an anointed writer, so, I give her much respect.”
Among the many artists she enjoys listening to, Clark-Sheard loves Mary Mary, Donald Lawrence, and her cousin James Moss (aka, J. Moss), a famous gospel singer-songwriter, composer, arranger, and producer.
“My cousin J. Moss, he’s exciting,” she said. “He’s my blood. We know each other and so we come together and gel together. He writes and produces my records — it’s like a ball of excitement.”
Clark-Sheard is the mother of two extremely talented children, Kierra “Kikki” Sheard (25), who is also a famous gospel artist, and John Drew Sheard II (23), a young musician and music producer. Kiki has four albums. Clark-Sheard is married to Bishop John Drew Sheard of Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ, in Detroit.
In 2001, Clark-Sheard had a near death experience resulting from a blood vessel that burst during her hernia surgery; she fell into a coma that lasted for several weeks. Her doctors only gave her a 2 percent chance of survival. This tribulation gave birth to her hit album “Second Chance.”
Conquering the music world with multiple Grammys, as a solo artist and as a member of The Clark Sisters, Clark-Sheard said that more is in store for the expansion of her artistic expression, “God, He is just an amazing God … maybe you’ll see me in movies,” she said.
Clark-Sheard added that she would use that for ministry. A film crew was taping Clark-Sheard behind stage for a possible TV pilot.
Clark-Sheard confirmed a Hollywood rumor that a bio-pic about Aretha Franklin’s life is being planned.
“Well, it’s in the making, I don’t think I’ll be playing her role, but I was asked by Aretha to be a part of a role she played in a gospel group before she went secular,” she said.
Franklin, who also lives in Detroit, and the Clark Sisters are close. The sisters are annually invited to perform at Franklin’s father’s church for a Christmas holiday fellowship.