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Lamplighter Awards 2017 - Luther Barnes

Source: Glenn Parson / Glenn Parson

​​ “I believe I could tell at least 100 stories about specific times the Lord kept and delivered me, whether it be from sickness, trouble, carelessness or dangers seen and unseen,” shares, Reverend Luther Barnes. For more than three hit-making and award-winning decades, the celebrated Rev. Barnes has delivered the essence of gospel music no matter what the current musical fashion may be. This precious gift stems from his uncanny ability to create traditionally-rooted music in contemporary, finely-wrought productions.  Barnes’ acclaimed 2020 release, LOOK TO THE HILLS with his Restoration Worship Center Choir and the title track and single “Look To The Hills,” made a timely arrival as its with messages of hope and inspiration. LOOK TO THE HILLS is Barnes’ second album released by Shanachie Entertainment/SRT Entertainment. The Reverend’s 2016, THE FAVOR OF GOD, released after a seven-year hiatus from the recording scene, immediately spawned the gorgeous anthem “God’s Grace,” one of the biggest gospel radio hits of the year in 2017.

Reverend Luther Barnes is hopeful that his new single “You Kept Me,” will inspire others to stay in gratitude and to give thanks for to God for is keeping power. “To those who are struggling,” offers the Reverend, “I would advise you to pray more while always being thankful for what you have. Remember, the mere fact that you are still here is evidence that you are a strong survivor.”

Born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 1954, the son of the late Bishop F. C. Barnes and the late Willie Mae Barnes, who instilled in him a desire to trust and obey God’s word, the Reverend Luther Barnes comes from a notable gospel background. His father wrote and scored a hit with the gospel standard “Rough Side Of The Mountain.” Raised in the church from a young age, Rev. Barnes felt called to music ministry and embarked on a hit-making career as lead singer, producer, songwriter and director of the “quartet” gospel group Luther Barnes & The Sunset Jubilaires. Bishop F. C. Barnes pastured the Red Budd Holy Church where Luther was appointed the music director of the choir. The Choir broke through with such hits as “I’m Still Holding On,” (which features a lead vocal from his cousin Deborah Barnes), “So Satisfied, “ Spirit, Fall Fresh,” “That Other Shore,” “Somehow Someway” and “No Matter How High I Get” (written by Bobby Womack). They also garnered a Grammy nomination in 2004 for IT’S YOUR TIME. In 2006, Barnes who earned a music education degree from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina, accepted a call into the preaching ministry, following the leadership of his father. He continued his music ministry, which took him all over the country, garnering a multitude of awards and honors including a Vision Award, Stellar Award, and a GWMA Excellence Award. He also received a Grammy nomination and a Gospel Heritage Award. Having produced over twenty-eight CDs, he found time to perform or record with such gospel greats as Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, John P. Kee, and The Mighty Clouds Of Joy. He established the Restoration Worship Center in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 2014 and serves as its Senior Pastor.

Even though Rev. Barnes is steeped in the gospel tradition and in many ways is continuing that tradition, he sees himself as an innovator. As he told journalist Bill Carpenter in Carpenter’s Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia: “At an early age, I would always listen to the difference between the sound of gospel music and the sound of popular music. The Temptations and all those artists sounded so much better. I said, ‘Goodness, why can’t gospel music come up and be just as right musically as the other forms of music? I thank God for people such as James Cleveland and Kirk Franklin who have helped us get our act together and upgrade our music.”  Always modest, the Rev. Barnes did not mention himself as one of those who is elevating gospel music but all evidence suggest that he belongs in this group.

Reverend Barnes concludes, “During the past year of this pandemic I have learned that God is able to keep me without many of the things I thought I had to have. My creativity has been stretched and I am yet happy in Jesus.”

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