This is said to be the year of completion, rest and forgiveness…and we’d like to add the year of exceptional, uplifting music from a few familiar faces, but many new faces as well. Here’s a look at our 20 gospel artists to watch in 2016.
Current Single: “I’ll Be The One”
Social media sensations are not only discovered in pop and R&B. Last year, gospel embraced a new media darling simply known as Bri. After a friend posted a video of Bri singing Tonex’s 2004 hit “Make Me Over,” the video went…as we say, “viral.” With fans ranging from Brandy to Drake and over 350k Instagram followers, you can understand why she’s one to watch!
Current Project: Everyday Jesus
Some say he’s the next generation’s Kirk Franklin. His single “Worth” has been #1 for 16 weeks on the Gospel charts and his group, Anthony Brown & group therAPy, received their first Grammy nod. Not a bad way to start off the new year!
Current Project: Light in the Dark
Backing some of the best in R&B, including Ledisi, Angie Stone and KeKe Wyatt, Danetra is by far one of the most underrated new talents in Gospel. With a voice that can rival just about any singer, in any genre of music and a pretty impressive debut release, you’ll see she was born to do this.
Current Project: School of Roses
Christon Gray has been grinding since 2006. Most recently, he signed a brand new deal with the biggest gospel artist in the world, Kirk Franklin. He must have something special if Kirk signed him as the first rapper to his Fo Yo Soul label.
Current Project: The Evolution Continues
After singing with James Fortune & Fiya for several years and bringing female quartet music to the forefront, Lisa Knowles has the potential to make her name notable. Putting the finishing touches on her very first solo album and a feature on Erica Campbell’s Help 2.0 project with Fantasia, she’s no slouch.
Current Single: “Strong Name”
This sought after singer-songwriter rose to fame after writing one of the biggest songs in Gospel to date, “Nobody Greater.” In the summer of 2015, he pulled off a successful joint live recording with fellow new artist, Maranda Willis. So it’s only a matter of time before the whole world knows his name.
As the saying goes, “second times a charm.” After coming up short on Season 3 of BET’s Sunday Best competition, he was voted back on for the inaugural “All Star” season last year and beat out the best of the best! Now joining Kirk Franklin’s Fo Yo Soul label, the sky is beyond the limit!
Current Single: “Nobody Like You Lord”
Once people caught wind of Maranda’s version of “Fill Me Up” on YouTube, there’s been an electrifying frenzy, synonymous with her name. Now, since completion of her first live recording in Atlanta last year, several labels eagerly came knocking! We have a feeling the ink will be dry very soon, if it’s not already.
Current Project: Hidden Treasures & Collaborations
He has a range that most men and women would die for along with two classic hits: “Rain On Us” and “I Need Your Glory,” that he will most likely be singing forever. Now, with a new live recording in the works, a special tour, and TV opportunities on the table, it appears that 2016 will be another busy year for Dr. Pugh.
Current Single: “If It Had Not Been”
Fans have compared it to the “Red Star Sounds” R&B series from the early 2000’s that spotlighted the best in what’s new, different, and special in R&B and Soul music. Independent Spirit Vol. 1 has created the same platform with some of the most talented indie artists in Gospel music today and the reviews have been stellar! The second single from this project is expected very soon!
Current Single: “King Oh King”
Affectionately crowned “the Princess of Praise & Worship,” Maurette Brown Clark has an intuitive and special anointing that is unique to her and her only. With 4 solid albums under her belt and a long awaited 5th project expected later this year, 2016 should be real bright for Maurette!
Current Project: The Dollyology Mixtape
If you’ve ever noticed a dark skinned guy, with a thick beard, and lots of energy, dancing and singing behind Gospel superstar, Tye Tribbett, then you’ve spotted Jermaine Dolly! And believe it or not, his current single “You” is spreading like wild fire with no major promotion or label backing. You can see why he stands out.
Current Project: Life Music: Stage Two
No stranger to our list. If there is one artist that’s “got next,” it’s this gentleman. He just happens to be the first Gospel artist to perform on Revolt TV, did an abbreviated Christmas tour this past year with Grammy Award winning artist India Arie, AND managed to snag her for a duet on his sophomore album. Not too shabby!
Current Single: “Everything Coming Up Jesus”
This exciting, youthful, 5some undoubtedly have a presence that can’t be denied. And they can flat out sing! With their 4th single “Jericho” recently released to iTunes, it has everyone asking…where is the full CD?
Current Single: “Lift Every Voice”
Nicki Minaj, Ariana Grande, Zendaya, Kristin Maldonado and Donnie McClurkin are just a few celebrities that shouted out this super talented trio on social media last year. And to think, they don’t even have a deal yet! If you’ve never heard them…one word…AMAZING!
Current Project: “Kingdom Therapy”
Unlike any other musical act in Gospel today, this band appears on our list again simply because they are like “the little engine that could.” When their sophomore project dropped earlier this year it barely landed at #49 on the charts. Then fast forward a few months later, the same project suddenly jumped into the top 25 on the Gospel charts for 9 weeks…that’s impressive! And they too, are gaining fans from all over from former American Idol finalist Joshua Ledet to Whitney Houston’s brother and sister- in- law, Gary and Pat Houston.
Current Project: “Travis Malloy”
He penned what seemed to be one of the most played Gospel songs of 2015, “All The Glory” by Alexis Spight. He also landed songs on Dorinda Clark Cole and Jason Nelson’s releases last year, which is why we think you’ll be hearing his name even more this year.
Current project: With All I Am
This former college football star hit a low point in his 20’s with a degenerative injury that kept him from going pro. But things have been looking up for the relatively unknown artist and first time father, with his debut project landing at #4 on the Billboard Gospel Charts
Current Single: “Walk It Out”
These 3 gorgeous biological sisters from the “Big Easy” made our list last year and we had to include them again with the official release date being announced to their highly anticipated 7th album Fearless, due Feb. 12th. It’s expected to be one of the highlights of the New Year!
He went from being called Pretty Willie, rapping and singing about money and women, to turning his life over to the Lord and beating out stiff competition to land his own nationally syndicated radio show “The Willie Moore Jr Show” on Atlanta’s Praise 102.5.