Thursday, April 4, 2013

Honoring DMV's Greatest Gospel Musicians (Past and Present) Part 2

The DMV area is so blessed wiith innovators and trendsetters in the area of Gospel Music. In the last blog, I explored the "creme de la creme" of Gospel Musicians in the Washington DC Metropolitan area. I'm back with part 2 because there are some others that I would like to recognize as well. As always I am sure this list is not complete but it's thorough. Let's get started!

1. William Hubbard
William Hubbard is the writer of one of the most popular Gospel /Praise and Worship songs of all time, "I Love You Lord Today", which was originally recorded by The Edwin Hawkins Music and Arts Seminar Mass Choir and has been and continues to be one of greatest Gospel Musicians the DMV has ever seen and heard. William came from a musical family as his mother was a musician in her own right. He is not only a great Gospel Musician and songwriter, but his expertise also reaches into the realm of musical theater. William Hubbard has never allowed the trendiness of Gospel Music to narrow his eclectic musical genius as he continues to write music that will stand the test of time. Hear his version of the 23rd Psalm:

2. Warren Jones (Far left in picture)
Musician, singer, songwriter Warren Jones is a a quiet storm in the DMV area. He is nationally known for his producing both Gospel and R&B artists. Warren also penned a very popular worship song recorded by The Potter's House Mass Choir entitled, "Majesty" some years ago. Warren has all of the "intangibles" as they say in sports.  He can do anything as it pertains to music. Despite his demanding career as a producer, he is still a church musician. One of the humbling facts about Warren is that he is not a mega church guy. He works with and ministers in places that most big named musicians wouldn't even consider, and he is to be commended for that.  Warren is also one of the founding members of a very popular Gospel band in the 90's called Gideon Band and a gifted drummer as well..

3. Mike Smith

I've had the pleasure of knowing and working with this monster musician for many years now. Mike Smith is a musical tactician and a Stellar nominated producer. Mike Smith knows how to play and produce music. He was my co-producer and a writer on my last project, and has worked with many DMV artists in helping to make their dreams come true.  A native of State College, Pennsylvania, Mike moved to the DC area not really knowing a lot about the inner workings of how to play Gospel Music, but he had a ear that developed him into the phenomenal musician he is today. He is now the Minister of Music of the Jones Tabernacle Baptist Church in Baltimore, MD, and well respected and noted by many as a great musician and songwriter.  

4. Nate Fields  

You cannot be a musician in the DMV area, and not know who Bassist Nate Fields is with his high pitched voice. Nate plays the bass with reckless precision as he has graced so many recordings in the DMV area with an unmistakable foundation. Nate is somewhat of a pioneer with his uncanny ability to ad lib while still holding down the foundation in a song. Nate is also the Minister of Music of Redeeming Love Christian Center in DC where his father is the Pastor. Here's a clip of Nate playing the bass along with Warren Jones(Piano) and Mike Smith (Organ).

5. Jay Williams (J.J.)

J.J is a pioneer and mentor to so many in the DC metropolitan area and abroad. He is one of the greatest drummers in America, and we have been blessed to hear him in the DC area for over 20 years now. Jay Williams is the lead drummer at Reid Temple A.M.E. Church in Lanham, MD, but his resume far exceeds the limitations of Gospel Music. He's helped so many artists in many other genres of music as well and continues to tour as needed. J.J. is not only a great musician, he is a great person. He is one of the best session drummers I have ever seen.  He's also a family man, and comes from a musical family. His father, the late Judge Williams Sr., was also well known in our area as the Minister of Music at the Isle of Patmos Baptist Church in DC.. See J.J. with Marcus Johnson

6. Daryl Hunt
One word.... Musical Genius
I have never worked with Daryl Hunt before, but I have seen and experienced his work. There is really no one like him in our area. He writes, arranges, and plays like tomorrow may not get here. Daryl is very educated and knowledgeable in not only Gospel Music, but he is a wizard in orchestration. He has written and/or arranged songs for R&B artists as well. He is a humble man with a vision to educate young people. Hear his rendition of Richard Smallwood's "Lord's Prayer"

7. Justin Savage
When you mention the name Justin Savage to anyone who plays Gospel music, their eyes begin to light up because the man is simply amazing. He is a trendsetter and a student of music. Justin has graced many national recordings, and is the Assistant Minister of Music at the Mt. Ennon Baptist Church in Clinton, MD.  The DC area first heard of Justin through his amazing performance and production of Jonathan Nelson's first project that he did in Baltimore, MD.  It was like a Sunday School lesson, Justin had changed the game. His style was refreshing and many in our area have adopted his way of approaching piano playing. Justin has mentored many musicians, and continues to play and produce for many across the USA.  Justin is a great singer as well. Check out his latest single.

8. Reger Smith (Ross Smith)

Ross Smith is one of the proteges of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church who branched out to do so much more in the Gospel Music scene in the DMV area. Ross is not only a bassist, but he is a musician's musician. Ross is currently on staff at the First Baptist Church Of Glenarden in Maryland and Capitol Hill SDA Church in DC.  I likened his playing to that of Mark Walker. He has a very clear and concise sound. I have never seen Ross unprepared for an event or service. He is now a staple in the Gospel Community as a reliable bassist and a person of integrity.;_ylt=A2KLqIMlA1tR6CUAbBP7w8QF;_ylu=X3oDMTBrc3VyamVwBHNlYwNzcgRzbGsDdmlkBHZ0aWQD?p=Ross+Smith%2C+bass&vid=4c272f2f7a813cbae8d778cf89a2024e&l=9%3A41&

9. Melvin Bryant

When you talk about virtuoso pianists, Melvin Bryant's name has to be on the top of the list. Melvin Bryant, the Assistant Minister of Music at the Alfred Street Baptist Church, in Alexandria, VA, is a well informed, well educated minstrel who can make anything talk on the black and white keys. He is also a recording artist having released an album of his own in 2003. Melvin is also a great teacher and friend to many in the DMV area. Melvin is an active participant and contributor in the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. He lends a hand when he can and is very humble about the gifts that God has blessed him with.

10. Stephen Key

Arranger, songwriter, singer, minister of music, and music transcriber Stephen Key leaves no stone unturned in the field of music. He is a well sought after musician for his accuracy in interpreting music as the artist would prefer it. He has played for many on the biggest stages the DMV area has to offer. He has his own group, Steve Key and Company.  Steve Key & Company has performed in several European music festivals including the1998 North Sea Jazz festival at The Hague in Holland, where the group performed before standing room only audiences.  The group remains committed to spreading the gospel in song whenever called upon. Stephen is also well sought after for his music transcription services. His turn around time is unbelievable in getting music back to his clients. He hails from a musical family, is well rooted in the DMV area, and is well deserved to be on this list.

Honorable Mentions- 
Mike McCoy- Great gospel musician and teacher.
Carlton Burgess- Great teacher and mentor to many in the DMV area
Jimmy Russell- Who taught and mentored so many in the DC area.
Terrell Graham- He is one of the longest tenured drummers at one church in the DC area . The 1st drummer I ever saw in the DC area using and MPC back in the early 90's.
Michael White- great singer, musician and songwriter
Paul Avery- musician with unlimited musical ideas
Jamal Moore- Who is now probably the most sought after session drummer in the DC area
Bob Terry- Guitarist
Alvin White- Guitarist
Damon Grey- Just a monster musician and a great musical support to many.