GRAMMY® Award-winning songwriter Pastor Charles Jenkins and Inspired People record label sign an exclusive worldwide distribution agreement with EMI Gospel/EMI Christian Music Group. Pastor Charles Jenkins Presents Fellowship Chicago Live’s debut project, The Best of Both Worlds will be in stores and available online everywhere on June 12.
Jenkins, the senior pastor of the legendary Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church, is a dynamic, inspirational and visionary religious and community leader. Since taking the helm at Fellowship as senior pastor almost twelve years ago, at age 24, succeeding Reverend Clay Evans, Jenkins has more than quadrupled weekend attendance at services (now over 8,000 members), and created a variety of life changing programs and services for children, youth, and adults within the church and in the community.
With the production and release of this CD as well as future releases, Jenkins continues a long musical tradition at Fellowship, which released 25 albums under the leadership of Jenkins’ predecessor, Reverend Clay Evans. “We are excited about our [Inspired People] new partnership with EMI,” says Pastor Jenkins. “The new deal will allow us to expand our global message, and spread the word of God through multiple media platforms. Inspired People’s mission is music with a movement for God and for good.”
“Once in a while a song comes along that is already familiar the first time you hear it,” says Larry Blackwell, Vice President and General Manager of EMI Gospel. “Pastor Charles Jenkins and Fellowship Chicago Live have delivered that type of song with ‘Awesome.’ It’s simple worship, an anthem for the church. EMI Gospel is excited to partner with Pastor Jenkins and Inspired People to take this offering and help write a new chapter in the legendary Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church’s musical ministry.”
As part of the distribution deal, Pastor Jenkins will lead the way for gospel music to enter into the digital age by utilizing download card technology offered through Digi-Cards Midwest/NuFace Entertainment.
Jenkins’ new praise and worship anthem, “Awesome” is #11 this week on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart. “Awesome” has a memorable melody and powerful message that is earning praise from radio programmers/announcers, church leaders and supporters all across the country. “It is a rarity that a new song skyrockets in its first research in the Top 10,” says Elroy Smith, Inspirational Format Director and Operations Manager of Praise 103.9 in Philadelphia. “‘Awesome’ and Pastor Charles Jenkins have fallen into this category at 103.9 Praise and it is #1 at “103.9-The Light-in Raleigh. This song is on the right track to become a classic inspirational song and that’s AWESOME.”
“Awesome” is available on iTunes and other key online music outlets. In addition, numerous retailers are receiving calls about purchasing product. “We have been bombarded with calls about the single and album,” says Darryl King of Sound of Market, in Philadelphia, one of the nation’s leading independent music retailers for over 2o years. “Charles Jenkins is a dynamic preacher, singer and worship leader who has taken the gospel world by storm with his intoxicating and sanctified worship song ‘Awesome.’ The requests for this song by individuals and churches have reached feverish levels among our Gospel customers. ‘Awesome’ is sure to become a staple of Sunday mornings and an instant church classic. The release of the up and coming CD has all the makings of being, AWESOME!”
Jenkins is the author of Thriving In Change. He was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, and grew up around church music at the 10th Street Church of God. His grandmother was a pianist who played for many churches in the area. His musical legacy also extended to his uncle, who was a member of Earth, Wind & Fire’s band. At five years old, Jenkins began classical piano lessons, which he continued for the next seven years. As a teenager, he began directing a mass youth choir and soon became the minister of music at Bethel AME Church. Jenkins also started writing songs as a teenager, but it would be years before he began to share his music with others or take his songwriting talent seriously. In 1997, Jenkins founded Joshua’s Troop, a Stellar-nominated youth choir, now led by gospel music giant, Percy Gray. Their first recording featured Jenkins’ upbeat urban rendition of the classic hymn, “Deep Love.”
His next foray into professional music writing turned out to be an award-winning venture. He penned the song “You’ve Been A Friend” for Israel Houghton, which he recorded on his album, Israel and the New Breed Alive in South Africa. That CD won a 2005 GRAMMY® Award for best traditional gospel CD, so everyone who worked on the CD, including Jenkins, received a GRAMMY®.
Although Jenkins had a clear talent for music, when he was a teenager, his heart was set on becoming a professional dancer. He wanted to perform with MC Hammer’s group. “I was good enough to do it, too” he recalls. But the call to ministry took him away from his dancing and musical pursuits. He became a licensed minister at 16 and was ordained two years later, at age 18.
Jenkins attended Moody Bible Institute, in Chicago, where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Christian Education. It was during that time that he became known to the leaders of the church he would eventually pastor. He later earned a Master of Arts in Religion from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Jenkins is married to Dr. Tara Rawls-Jenkins and has two daughters, Princess and Paris, and one son, Charles Jenkins, III.
The CD project, The Best of Both Worlds, has brought him back to the music. He now sees his music and songwriting as a gift worth sharing. Jenkins, who is deaf in one ear, says, “Whenever I write a song I hear everything—lyrics, melody, chord progressions, instrumentation—everything. It rushes down on me and I have to sing it over and over again to keep it in my head.”
Jenkins believes that music can be the basis of an urban Christian movement that attracts people in ways that many traditional mediums cannot. “There are opportunities to create amazing music and to create a meaningful movement around that music,” he says. “For us, this is not just a CD, it a movement for God and good that begins with this project.”