The gospel industry has endured a maelstrom of controversy since Sunday Best introduced Le’Andria Johnson to the world a few years ago. An embellished audition story, ‘falling off the wagon’ after her SB win, to now being pregnant out of wedlock. Johnson was quick to point out via her twitter feed that her other children were born to her and her previous husbands(she’s been married twice and this is her only child out of wedlock).
Which side are you on?
The story with Le’Andria Johnson is simple; you either love her voice or hate her as a person! Shocking as it may seem, Christians hate people too. This should make this post a lot easier to digest now that the concession has been made that not even Christians are perfect! Because of NARAS’ embarrassing broadcast coverage of the gospel music sector;many were unaware, but Johnson won a Grammy for her song “Jesus”. The song though poorly written,was enhanced by her ability to vocally decimate any lyric placed in front of her(even a phonebook). Immediately following her Sunday Best triumph, videos of Johnson surfaced all across the web. Whether she was painting her fingernails in the backseat,whistling gospel adlibs or playing the drums,Le’Andria Johnson proved she had staying power!
Her first recorded offering struck a somewhat bittersweet note with gospel listeners though. The song’s confusing form,lack of substance and repetitive invocation of the Lord’s name made it (although subpar at best),a hit. You know, the song you keep singing even though you can’t quite figure out why you keep singing it? More like that refrain you sing in the dressing room that you would probably never even attempt to record with a straight face…yeah that one! Johnson’s rendition of it belted out the cry of one who was destitute and hopeless. The natural pain in her voice lifted her to heights in the song that left listeners hoping the Lord heard her by the time the song was over.
That song won a Grammy and for only one reason…Le’Andria Johnson! Flaws and all, scandals, flings and alcohol binges with the Sunday Best production crew, she was the newest and most deserving gospel industry face on the stage at this year’s Grammy Awards.
This article isn’t written unapologetically, but rather unobtrusively! In a genre propelled into the mainstream by both secretly and openly gay musicians, singers and Pastors, the gospel industry has really never had a handle on the morality it aspired to sing about. For nearly as long as the genre has existed, morality and immorality have seemed to coexist while artists while audiences grasp for the fulfillment gospel music brings. This may explain why issues of homosexuality, fornication, adultery, illicit drug use, and illegitimate children continue to plague some of the industry’s brightest stars.
A word from Le’Andria
When rappers Da T.R.U.T.H. and Ambassador were found to be morally defunct, it cost them their recording contracts. Their label, Cross Movement Records made separate announcements that they were severing ties with them because of their moral falterings. It’s worth asking, are Christian rappers held to higher standards than gospel artists or is this an isolated situation(Cross Movement Records)?
Where are your accusers?
Johnson will soon be a mother again. Will she still have her current recording contract? Unless there are morality stipulations in her contract,there’s nothing to suggest that she won’t. While it is a sad trend that may point to a severe lack of accountability at large, Johnson is human like everyone else. She made the mistake of unwed sex and is now pregnant. She’s not the only one, she just lives her life in the public arena! It doesn’t diminish the sin,nor does it make her any more guilty than anyone else.
A Meeting on a Rocky Road
Jesus encountered a woman about to be stoned and came to her defense before he uttered life changing words to her. He challenged her accusers to be the first to cast the stone taking her life. The accusers guilty of other sins themselves all eventually dropped their stones yet Jesus remained with the woman. Jesus spoke directly to the woman and her life was changed and she received a charge from Jesus to ‘go and sin no more.’
With Johnson, the gospel audience must remember that if you throw a rock you must be willing to also stand accused at the behest of your accusers. There is a standard of holiness that gospel artists and all Christians must abide by,and Johnson nor anyone else is absolved because this article is published. What is at play is the call and duty of the church,which supercedes the music and entertainment industry and it’s principles.
Prayer Still Works
Though poorly written, Vanessa Bell Armstrong still poured every ounce of good gospel energy she possesses into the 2009 smash “Good News“. The hook of the song was strikingly simple, “prayer still works“. The gospel anthem comes to mind as this articles closes. Pray for Le’Andria Johnson today! Pray for gospel artists in your area. Pray for those that are visibly struggling with addiction,homosexuality and other vices. Pray for Pastors,leaders yourself and others in general. Those in the gospel industry are STILL a part of the church,this is a perfect opportunity to for the church to be the church! Who knows, this may very well be the change(back) the gospel music industry needs!