Janice Gaines’ Gospel Debut is Worth The Wait
Gospel Singer, Janice Gaines Interviews with Parlé Mag
Motown Gospel artist, Janice Gaines was born in St. Louis, MO and raised in Memphis, TN with roots in the church and in music. Her father, a Methodist minister and her mother, a songwriter/musician, fate has seemed to guide her to her debut album, Greatest Life Ever, in stores now. Gaines would get her start in music performing in a professional gospel choir in high school, but she had to step away to pursue an economics degree at Oberlin College in Ohio. From there she attended Ohio’s Ashland Theological Seminary and earned a second degree, Master of Divinity. She maintained her ties to music, singing background but as her educational pursuits advanced, time took her away from music almost completely. When Gaines moved to NYC, becoming a math teacher in the Bronx, her life in music was all but over, but God had other plans for her.
A few years ago Gaines decided to put together a showcase in Nashville with the help of her manager/husband E.J. Gaines. The pair relocated to the city in Tennessee and Janice was pursuing her passion without fear. The performance at the showcase and some recorded music helped get the attention of Motown Gospel president Ken Pennell. That has led us to this moment here. Gaines having found success with her single, “Wait On You,” and having a Top 10 debut for her album, Greatest Life Ever.
We had an opportunity to speak with Mrs. Gaines while she was in New York City for her album listening session. Check out the full conversation on Gospel music, her plans for the future and much more…
Parlé Magazine: On your song “Love,” you describe some very personal moments in your life. What was your hopes for that song?
Janice Gaines: That song was just to let people into what I’m all about and why I’m doing what I’m doing and hopefully relate to people who have the same story as I do.
Parlé: We have all been there where we are growing weary and think that God has forgotten about us. Based on your song, “Wait On You,” what advice do you have for people who are sick of waiting for their moment?
Janice Gaines: I think I would just say to make sure that you don’t give up because if you give up, you definitely won’t get your blessing. If you wait it out, it’s a good chance that you will receive it. In the times that you feel like giving up the most that’s when you press harder, and you press in.
Parlé: Before music, you were a teacher and you accomplished so many things, what gave you the drive to pursue so many different passions and now end up in Gospel music?
Janice Gaines: I think I’ve always wanted to do this, I just didn’t have the courage to do it. When I finally got the courage to do it, that is what drove my passion. Also having a community of people who believe in me means everything and helped a lot.
Parlé: Your album is so different from most Gospel albums. It is relatable and judgment free. Do you think your time as a teacher helped you create this album and have an open-minded point-of-view?
Janice Gaines: I think it did. When you’re teaching in the public school system, there are things you cannot say. As a Christian, I would still have to figure out how to show love to my students, love that I believe comes from Jesus, without actually saying it. Now in my songs I love to say it, and I get to do more. Overall, you figure out different ways to communicate the love of God and you just figure out how to become more creative with it and more rounded and have a rhetoric for explaining to people what this changed in your life, what it is and how it came about.
Parlé: You mentioned you enjoyed many different types of music. There is a reality TV show called Love and Hip-Hop LA, where one of the cast members, who is gay, just came out to his family and friends. What is your opinion on artists not staying true to themselves or being afraid to be honest in other music industries as well as Gospel?
Janice Gaines: Here’s what I would say, when it comes to our culture, we put a whole lot of emphasis on the freedom to be ourselves. I think real freedom comes from being who God has called us to be and that contains more than one issue. I know our culture has made it seem like there is one issue, but the reality is that when you accept Jesus you must receive his gift of love. The Bible says, “deny yourself, take up your cross and follow me.” It doesn’t matter what identifiers I had prior to coming to Jesus all identifiers are to be laid before the feet of Jesus so that we take on his identity. I think we’ve made this big thing about I get to be who I am and I’m not sure that that’s biblical. Lots of people are being themselves and society will say that’s not acceptable because society sets rules. I think in the kingdom of God the point is to take on the identity of Jesus. This way when you see me, you might not know I have other issues because you’ll hopefully see Jesus. The older I get, the more you see me, the more you see Jesus. To me that is what Christianity is all about. It has been made a hot button issue and for reasonable reasons, I get that. I believe Jesus (the Messiah) came into the World differently from how people were expecting him. They tried to catch him asking questions like, “What do you think about paying taxes to the Romans?” The Lord said, “ pay to Caesar what is Caesar’s.” We think that as Christians, we get to control government. We participate as citizens, but we don’t get to control government because the government that belongs to us is the kingdom of God. When it is comes up politically I get that, but in the Church we have to remember that our identity is in Christ. The Bible says that our life literally is hidden in Christ and when he appears that’s when our life will appear as well.
Parlé: What do you think needs to happen in Gospel music to have more of the youth interested in it?
Janice Gaines: As a teacher I learned that it doesn’t matter who you are or anything, if you are authentic, the youth are paying attention. If you are authentic and you are authentically interested in them, then they perk up. You can be Erica Campbell or Shirley Caesar and there is going to be a youth that is going to follow you because you are authentic in what you stand for and you are authentically you. I think that’s actually a big part of it. You ask someone who their favorite teacher was and it’s not necessarily going to be the person that listens to a certain type of music. It’s going to be the person they connected with and who they felt was authentic and I think that’s how youth judge us.
Parlé: What can we expect from you moving forward?
Janice Gaines: I want to do so much. Maybe one day even perform on Broadway, which is definitely a dream of mine. I can’t wait to make more records. I have ideas for songs and all that kind of stuff. I can’t wait to do more live shows, which I really love doing. I just hope I get to meet more people on the road and that I get to make more music.
Watch the “Wait On You” music video below:
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