A Candid Conversation With Bishop J Drew Sheard
GOSPELflava caught up with Bishop J. Drew Sheard, General Board Member of the Church of God in Christ, founding pastor of the Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God in Christ and unapologetically proud Executive Producer of the newest offering from Karew Records, Bishop J. Drew Sheard Presents GEI LIVE. The 13 song disc which made its debut at #5 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums chart features the music ministry of the GEI Choirs that render praise to God in song every Sunday under the capable leadership of their minister of music, Elder Derrick Starks. Bishop Sheard talks about the album and the messages intended for the listeners to take home.
GOSPELflava: Bishop Sheard, thanks so much for taking time to talk to us. The GEI Live album has been touted as one of the most highly anticipated projects to look for this year. Tell us how the project came to fruition.
Bishop Sheard: As you know, we’ve recorded the choirs before in years past. A few years ago our choir director relocated to Dallas, so I put out a search to find someone that would fit into our ministry. We were able to touch Elder Derrick Starks, who at the time was working with the late Pastor Andrae Crouch at Christ Memorial , and after some dialogue we were able to get him to come back home (as he’s originally from Detroit) and he became our Minister of Music. Elder Starks came in with a mind to work and started making some changes that were positive and effective in the music department. A few months later, he came to me and said, “Bishop, I think we can do a live recording” and I said, “Are you sure?” He said, “Bishop, we can do this”. So I said “lets get to work and see what happens.” He went to work, he and my son J Drew pulled it together and the night of the recording was just electrifying, we had a tremendous time at the live recording, and what you will hear is what happened that night, a truly phenomenal experience.
GOSPELflava: Bishop, the album affords us the opportunity to hear you sing a little bit. Is this what one will get during the worship experience at Greater Emmanuel?
Bishop Sheard: (laughs) Well I sing, but I don’t purport to be a singer, and I sing at the church, but I trust you’re not going to send for me to come and do a concert. I don’t consider myself to be a singer and how can I consider myself a singer with a wife like Karen Clark Sheard and a daughter like Kierra Sheard and my sister in laws the Clark Sisters?????????. My mother in law, the late Dr. Mattie Moss Clark used to always encourage me to sing, and I was always like yeah right, you’re being nice, so I leave the singing to them and I’m more into the preaching ministry.
GOSPELflava: The disc features a wide array of music, tell us about it
Bishop Sheard: The album was created to be inclusive, that’s what makes it a good church album. It features songs that are contemporary such as Hang on In There (that features Kierra) and the song that J Drew does My God Is Real, and then there are songs that are modern and up to date that aren’t traditional and then you have my song Press On which fits in its place and then there’s Karen’s song I Owe You Praise that takes you straight to church. I’m very proud of what we have to offer and we’re looking for great things to come from it. I love the entire album, but I must say the Clark Sisters’ Look To The Hills gives me chills. Its just a great song and its classic Clark Sisters.
Let me also add, Elder Derrick Starks is sensitive to the sermons I preach and a lot of the music is inspired by those sermons, a recurring message that you will hear all over the album is the theme Hang on or Hang in there, that’s a tag line that I use regularly, If I’m talking to you or texting you I will usually end with Hang on in there, so Elder Starks picked up my spirit to encourage the Body of Christ to hang in there; I know its tough, I know it doesn’t feel good and you might be going through. I know things are not going the way you anticipated but if you hang in there, God is going to work it out for you. That’s what you need to hold on to.