Ted Winn Explains Why Gospel Music Needs to Address Social Issues & More
Gospel artist Ted Winn recently released his brand new album "Stand in Awe." The set entered Billboard's Gospel album chart at No. 6. Winn, formerly half of the Gospel duo Ted & Sherry, earned his solo second Top Gospel Albums solo appearance, following 2009's Balance, which reached at No. 23. The new album features special guests Hezekiah Walker and Lisa Knowles and includes his beautiful title track "Stand in Awe."
In recent times, Ted Winn has really stepped forward and used his voice and music to raise consciousnes and to fight for Social Justice. He is doing it at a time where are is an increasing divide in the country and their is a void of Gopel artists using their platform to address critical issues.
Q: Ted, thank you for doing this interview with us. Let's start with yourself, how did you first feel God's call to sing for him?
I always loved music. Growing up I listened to it, I learned to play and I focused on being a better singer. As I started singing in church as a young child and seeing the response that it had on other people and the response it had on me, I felt a connection to expressing my gratitude, my concerns, my prayers and my assessment of humanity and mankind through music and through song. I feel like it is a gift that God gave me in order to express how I feel about music and to convey messages that other people can be impacted by.
Q: You have a passion for social justice. Why do you think it's missing in Gospel music these days?
I think that it is missing in large part because people have romanticized about where we are as a country and as a group of people, those of us that live in a marginalized space. I think for the micro accomplishments that have been made, there is still so much to be done. Because of the trappings of "success" - the cars and houses and people of color being able to do well for themselves- the narrative has changed. Whereas church and Gospel music going back to the civil rights movement has been a huge part of the social justice fight, that has kind of been eroded by how people have romanticized where we are.
Q: How can Gospel artists be more purposeful in tying social justice with the music that they release?
I think you do it through conscious music and by doing it through music that people are interested in and that impacts them and gains their attention. When people are listening to you do whatever artistic thing you are doing and they listen to the clarity of your lyrics, I think it makes them more attuned to what it is you have to say.
Q: In a press release I read, you mentioned that you see your role as more than just entertain, but also to educate. How do you do that through your music?
For me, it is about doing music that is really a quality production and music that speaks to people's hearts and that honors God. As a secondary piece - I want to speak to people and educate them in as many ways as I possibly can.
Q: Let's talk about your new album, "Stand in Awe." What are you most excited about this record?
Honestly, I am most excited about the content. I took my time to do this album, it is ten songs and I wrote eight of them. The production is better than my first solo album and I really love the music team I worked with. The producers Justin Gilbert, Anthony Parrish and Myron Butler, all did a great job. As a body of work, I am very excited about this project.
Q: You also have a few Gospel artists singing with you on the album, tell us who they are. And what was it like working with them?
The first artist I worked with on this album is Lisa Knowles, who is an amazing artist from Memphis. I heard her sing a few times and was always moved by her presentation. I reached out to her and asked her to do the song "Safety," with me which is a more traditional kind of song. It was a pleasant experience. She really delivered on the song and it was great working with her.
The second artist I collaborated with is Maranda Curtis. I heard her sing at the House of Hope in Atlanta, which is a church where I lead worship periodically. I was completely blown away by the magic of her on stage and the presence that she has as an art creator. She is just an amazing vocalist and I feel the passion in her presentation. We recorded the song 'Grateful' which incorporates a little piece of the Walter Hawkins song "Be Grateful." I did not want to sing that part, I wanted to keep it kind of true to form and being that Lynette Hawkins did the original song, I wanted a singer that could deliver with that kind of power and Miranda was a no brainer.
Lastly I did a song "The Greatest Power" with Hezekiah Walker who is a friend, music legend and icon. He has tons of hit records and has been doing music well for over 25 years. I have always wanted to do a song with him. I wrote this song that has a theme that I have heard him say before. His former Pastor, who has passed away Bishop Kenneth Moales, used to say this theme all of the time - "Since God is the greatest power we shall not be defeated." I wrote around this theme and asked Bishop Walker to be on the song with me. It took quite a bit of time to get him in the studio but once we did it was quite magical.
Q: If you have to pick a couple of songs that you are most proud of from the new record, which would they be? And why?
The song I am most proud of is "Be Healed." It is my favorite on the album. It is a little bit of a different approach for me in terms of how I wrote it. I use a little bit of a Bible narrative, which is not customary for me in my writing. I use that Bible story about a blind man being healed and I talk also about emotional healing and psychological wellness. That is kind of the space that I wanted the song to resonate in. I think that so many people deal with trauma in their lives. All of us deal with some level of trauma and we do not get help for it professionally or otherwise. We carry those things around with us and I wanted write a song that hopefully will be cathartic for people and talk about healing.
The other song would be "Stand In Awe," the title cut of the album. I like to say that this is like a poem to God. I love it from the production, to the vocals and the way the lyrics are delivered. It's the current single and people have been responding well to it.
Q: In what ways do you wish this new record can educate those who hear it?
I would like to point back to people what a Gospel record sounds like. I think a lot of what we are hearing is a black version of CCM, Christian and Contemporary Music or Praise and Worship music, which is fine. I have no issue with that expression but I do not want us lose the unique expression of Gospel music because it is an art form created by black folks. I think it is very important for us to maintain the integrity of the art form known as Gospel and to continue to do music that sounds like Gospel music.
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