New artist, Kevin Levar, is making a name for himself on the gospel scene with a unique sound. His lead single, “Your Destiny,” produced by Harmony Samuels—who has created hits for Jennifer Lopez and Ariana Grande—is quickly becoming one of the most empowering and uplifting songs of 2014.
ESSENCE.com sat down with Levar, who was recently featured in The New York Times, and spoke to him about his new project, his vow of celibacy, and more!
Tell us about your CD, Destiny! Live At The Dream Center.
My first CD was more so a worship project. My new record is all about purpose and destiny. It’s collection of music with a resounding message to hold on and never give up. What God put inside you is there for a reason, so it’s truly important to see it through until the end.
There was a good amount of time between your first project and this new one. What were you doing during that time?
I went through up and downs like everyone else. Life happens. I went into ministry full time almost 14 years ago. I questioned God if this is what I was supposed to be doing. But every time I attempted to get a 9 to 5, he would tell me to hold on. This whole project is my testimony. It’s my life to music.
You made a conscious choice to remain celibate until you got married. Why was that important to you?
It was just something morally that I felt was right for me and important for my walk with God. I didn’t want to be a hypocrite singing and ministering in front of people and then my life wasn’t what I was singing about. My wife was actually a virgin when we got married and I had been celibate for 15 years. And I’m 33 now! I gave my heart to God at 18, but when I hit my late 20’s and early 30’s, that celibacy vow became REALLY difficult. But it really taught me to be more compassionate for people. We are all faced with something difficult that is a struggle for us and the only way we pull through is by the grace of God.
Were there ever times when you said you just wanted to give up and break the vow of celibacy?
Absolutely. But I had five people that I was accountable to. And they stayed on me! I was traveling on the road and singing and going to so many different places, so admittedly it was difficult. But my accountability partners would call me at 2am and make sure I was where I was supposed to be. It is so important to let someone know what you’re going through. Confess your faults one to another because we are a body. When you stub your toe, the first thing that happens is your hand goes down there to try and make it feel better. We have to do the same thing and work together. I just believe that whatever it is; don’t settle for less than what God has prepared for you. And that means resisting things that aren’t good for you and keeping you from your destiny.
You worked with one of the most sought after producers, Harmony Samuels, on your new single “Your Destiny.” How did you two connect?
I met Harmony Samuels at the Merge Summit in LA years ago. I heard him on the piano and his timing and sensitivity to the worship environment impressed me so much. I had no idea of his resume and all of the huge names he had worked with. He’s extremely humble. But we just connected on a real personal level. Six months down the road I sent him the song “Destiny,” and the rest is history.
For people who aren’t familiar with your music, what can they expect on this project?
It’s very eclectic. We go from big band to Motown, country, some Bruce Springsteen, Sly and The Family Stone, to of course worship. It’s a musical mash up. This record is not what you usually get in Gospel. There is more to God than just what is played on the radio. I wanted to expand our horizons. It’s ok to be creative and add more cultures and genres as Gospel artists and musicians. I think we definitely pushed the envelope.