Say hello to AV, one of Gospel music’s fresh and talented artist.

Hailing from Louisiana, the Christian emcee is ready to impact the world with his Gospel themed rap.

The Louisiana native best known as Michael “AV” Mitchell has been generating quite the buzz in the South and is now hoping to sting all across the United States with his music. He might even be billed by some as a talented Christian alternative to rapper DMX.

Press ‘play’ and get familiar with AV below…

Introducing… Jerome Wiggins


Get familiar with Jerome Wiggins.

The talented singer-songwriter has been making quite the splash with his debut single “I Will” ft. Tamera Mowry-Hously. Many watched as Wiggins and his cousin Tamera crafted “I Will” with super-producer Eric Dawkins on Style Network’s hit reality series “Tia & Tamera“. It was then that the singer caught our attention as he exuded pure and passionate worship in the recording booth.

The Pennsylvania native serves as a minister and worship leader at Kingdom Come Ministries under the leadership of Pastor Jonathan H. Robinson in Clairton, PA just outside the city of Pittsburgh. Wiggins is currently in the studio working on his debut LP, “Manifest“. Hit play, and get into his debut single ”I Will” ft. Tamera Mowry-Hously, and if you like what you hear stop by iTunes and purchase it!


Introducing… Vonnie Lopez


Get familiar with Vonnie Lopez, one of Gospel music’s fresh and talented artist.

Hailing from Lake Charles, Louisiana, the Gospel belle first caught our attention as one of the infamous Kurt Carr singers, in which she’s been a member of since 2003. Drumming up quite the buzz, Lopez contributed to some of the ensemble’s most endearing songs.

A singer-songwriter by nature, Vonnie’s songs have been recorded by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir and Nor-Cal Mass Choir. Now, she’s gearing up for the release of her debut LP, in which is scheduled to come courtesy of Riverphlo Entertainment, headed by industry mainstay, Grammy Award Winner Luther “Mano” Hanes. The project is preceded by the lead single ”The Name of Jesus“. Cop a gander at the official music video below…

It’s this unique proposition of hers which has caught the attention of many in the Gospel community. Vonnie Lopez is a new artist to watch! Stay tuned.

The Light: Nia Allen


Get familiar with Nia Allen, one of Gospel music’s fresh and talented artist.

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, the Gospel belle first caught my attention maybe 2-3 years ago when I saw her on a TBN special hosted by CeCe Winans, and Ms. Allen was a guest artist. As she exuded pure and passionate worship, I was indeed in awe.

A singer-songwriter by nature, Allen has traveled as a background vocalist for Nicole C. Mullen, CeCe Winans, David and Nicole Binion and many others. Additionally, she wrote most of the material on her debut project, “A New Thing” and her latest release, “Here am I.”

Billed by some as a talented alternative to CeCe Winans, Nia Allen is indeed an artist to watch! Hit play and experience Nia Allen for yourself.

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It’s this unique proposition of hers which caught the attention of myself as well as other in the industry, for more info regarding Nia Allen visit her at,

The Light: Beyond Potential Music Gathering 2012 + Brandon Egerton


This week The Gospel Guru shines “the light” on the Beyond Potential Music Gathering 2012 and co-founder Brandon Egerton.

Beyond Potential was created to EMPOWER music entrepreneurs through EDUCATION, NETWORKING and CAREER MENTORING.  In hopes to teach, inspire, interact, and challenge you to the point that you feel empowered and equipped to pursue the God-given dream in your heart. Guest facilitators for Beyond Potential 2012 include vocal coach  Ametria Dock, Grammy Award winning producer Antonio Neal, A&R executive Brandon Egerton, and vocalist/songwriter Candy West. This awesome and informative music gathering is set to take place April 27 & 28 in Nashville, TN. For more information please visit,

I caught up with Beyond Potential co-founder and former EMI Gospel A&R executive Brandon Egerton for a candid interview. Brandon has 13-plus years music industry experience creating and promoting more than 125 albums, including award winning artists: Kierra Sheard, Smokie Norful, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Aaron Neville, Cece Winans, and Donald Lawrence. In ’08, he launched Sideman Music Consulting and Beyond Potential University. Additionally, he currently oversees the Recording Arts degree program at Full Sail University.

Without further delay get into my interview with Grammy, Dove & Stellar Nominated A&R Executive Brandon Egerton below.

How did you get your start in the music industry?

I needed an internship to finish up my college degree in Music Industry Studies so I packed up and moved to Nashville to do an internship for EMI Christian Music Group. That led to a job in the Radio Promotions department at EMI Gospel. Roughly a year and a half into the gig, the President of the label, Ken Pennell, moved me over to the A&R Department and took me under his wings.

 What sparked your interest in the music industry?

I’ve always been around music growing up. Throughout high school I was involved in band and always seemed to find myself involved in small singing groups. That continued into my college years as I became fascinated with and began to learn about the business behind the music. I’m glad its worked out, there’s no other profession I’d rather be in.

What was your experience like at EMI Gospel? 

It was great! It’s so easy to grow in this business – if you lend yourself to it. I was fortunate to work for someone who wanted to see me grow, so I was constantly presented with opportunities to learn. I was blessed to work with some extremely talented artists, songwriters, producers – and amazing co-workers. Every day presented unique challenges/opportunities (to put it nicely) to take on. I loved the process of walking with artists through their creative journey. It’s such a rewarding experience; sometimes that comes in the form of a Grammy or Stellar award nomination – but the true satisfaction is in knowing that you contributed to a song or an album that will help change someone’s life.

How important do you feel A&R and artist development is for an artist and their career?

Artist Development is absolutely essential. Its all about the process – you cannot get around it. Though much of the artist development process has shifted from record labels to artists and their producers, it still has to be done. No successful artist, past or present, has gotten to where they are without going through this on some level. Likewise, the ability to collaborate and make great records, which is a large part of what we as A&R executives do, is critical.

What inspired you to create the Beyond Potential Music gathering?

Antonio Neal and I co-founded BPMG in 2008 after seeing such a lack of preparedness and so few resources for up and coming musicians. It’s interesting that many artists do not invest themselves to the point of learning all they can about the business they’re getting into. What profession can you just show up with no knowledge or training and expect to enjoy instant success?  I find that most are interested only in showcasing and performing and skip that very critical step that helps keep them in the business. Beyond Potential is our solution to that.

What sets the Beyond Potential Music Gathering apart from other music conferences, seminars, etc..?

First of all, BP is an ongoing collaboration/conversation. It’s not a once a year event where you meet someone, never to hear from them again or the type of conference where you have all this information thrown at you that you can’t apply to your situation because you lack the big budget to do so. We give you practical ways to apply what you’ve learned to your specific situation. We’re about collaboration of ideas, strategies, experiences, lessons learned and successes. Our goal is not to make you a star; it’s to give you the solid foundation you need to maintain success in this business. We even take it a step further and pair all of our attendees up with real industry professionals to provide them with a mentor throughout the year as well.

Describe the Beyond Potential Music Gathering experience in three words.

Connecting. Learning. Growing.

Lastly, what components do you feel an artist should have in order to experience success in the current state of the music industry?

 The first step is attending Beyond Potential, of course! The team of people around you is very important. Find knowledgeable, experienced people to surround yourself with. Be prepared to invest your time and money in those areas. Talent probably goes without saying – but in Gospel music – everyone is talented; so you have to be able to cut through that and stand out enough to carve your own niche. Thirdly, your work ethic (assuming you’re exceptionally talented), is often the thing that’s the difference between making it or not. Don’t just rely on your talent – work on developing yourself as if it’s your full-time career, even if it’s not yet. Every artist that is a household name today had years and years of hard work and development that took place before the world at large knew who they were – and each of those artists continue to work hard every day to maintain what the success that they enjoy.

The Light: Carl Brister


This week The Gospel Guru shines ‘the light’ on singer/song writer Carl Brister. The New Jersey native is no stranger to the music scene, he’s released three independent albums “The Journey,” “Focus,” and “Undefeated.” Carl has been seen nationally and internationally with appearances on the NBC daytime drama “Another World”, B.E.T.’s Dr. Bobby Jones Gospel, B.E.T.’s Video Gospel, The Word Network, Music Choice, JC-TV, and more. He’s also opened and/or shared the stage with artists including Donnie McClurkin, Tye Tribbett, Helen Baylor, Israel Houghton, Ben Tankard, Natalie Wilson, Alvin Slaughter, and more.

Fast forward to 2012 and Carl has released his version of R&B diva, Mary J. Blige‘s “Love No Limit,” featuring new and uplifting lyrics penned by Brister himself. Carl Brister states, “I believe now more than ever, people really need to hear about God’s love and also have a good time. So I re-wrote the lyrics and made it a party song that feels good.”

Carl’s most recent release is described as an uplifting feel-good contemporary gospel album that crosses over into various elements of Rhythm & Praise, Neo-Soul, Hip-Hop, and Christian Contemporary music. Carl is currently preparing to embark on on a “Love No Limit” regional promotional tour during the months of April and May 2012.  Below you can take a listen to “Love No Limit,” and if you haven’t done so be sure to stop by iTunes and check out Carl Brister’s album “Undefeated.” Fore more info regarding Carl Brister please visit, www.Carl and be sure to join Carl on twitter and Facebook!

The Light: Larry Blackwell, VP/General Manager of EMI Gospel


Highlighting executive men and women of faith who have garnered much success and have Kingdom influence. In the first installment of Power Players we shine ‘the light’ on one of gospel music’s most successful and influential music label executives, Mr. Larry Blackwell, Jr.

Larry Blackwell, VP /General Manager of EMI Gospel is Celebrating 33 years in the Gospel music community this year, Larry Blackwell, Jr. is a seasoned industry veteran. In 1983, he helped build Central South Distribution into the leading source at retail for Gospel music. In 1991, Blackwell became part owner and general manager and continued to build Central South’s presence in the market. In 1999 Blackwell accepted an offer from ZOMBA/Verity Gospel to oversee mainstream sales of all Gospel releases, a position held until 2003, when Blackwell was offered his current position of VP/GM of EMI Gospel.

Blackwell has helped increase visibility and sales of artists such asThe Clark SistersDonald Lawrence & The Tri-City SingersSmokie Norful, and Kierra Sheard. With the current releases of Forever Jones and VaShawn Mitchell, Blackwell and EMI Gospel remain focused on breaking new and developing talent. Contributor Christopher Coleman caught up with Mr. Blackwell for a few questions, peep the interview below.


What was the impetus behind starting in the music business; in particular, gospel music?

I didn’t start in the music business.  I started by answering phones in my dad’s one-stop distributor, Jimmy’s One Stop in Nashville in 1979.


Who/What are your inspirations?

The music. Gospel music.


What is your definition of a successful Christian/gospel album?

First and foremost one that has the ability to change a person’s life, even if just for a moment.


From a marketing perspective, explain what it takes to be a successful artist?

A hit song, Sacrifice, Dedication, Talent.  Not necessarily in that order.


In todays uncertain economy and outbreak of illegal music downloads, how has EMI managed to remain a financially productive label?

Successfully managing the bottom line by keeping costs in line with sales expectations.


I recently attended your EMI Gospel Showcase during Stellar Awards weekend and I must say it was impressive.  Your artists are offering some amazing music this year.  What are your plans for the label in 2012?

I’m glad you came by and enjoyed the showcase.  I happen to agree with you.  Our goal is to break new artist Anita Wilson, deliver a highly successful sophomore album from Forever JONES, continue to grow Myron Butler’s artistry/ministry, celebrate Smokie Norful’s 10 year anniversary in the industry with a retrospective release that includes a new hit song, follow-up VaShawn Mitchell’s smash project Triumphant with another equally successful release in late summer and that’s just for starters.  We have additional releases on the schedule and a few announcements pending.


What has been your greatest life’s lesson?

Attempt to be spiritual, not “religious.”


Would you drop an encouraging word for our online readers?

Always check your motives before you take action.  If you can live with them, you should be able to live with the results.





The Light: Ken Orr


This week The Gospel Guru shines “The Light” on burgeoning urban inspirational artist Kenn Orr. Like me you might have thought that Kenn Orr was a newcomer to the music industry, but he’s not! Kenn is no stranger to the music industry he has two albums under his belt which include his 2002 debut album “Get Ready” and “I’ll Be Tha One” released in 2007 on his imprint Koos Records. The single “Jesus You” from his sophomore project became quite popular overseas.

Kenn is back and ready to make a bigger impact on the music industry, he recently releasd his new single “Home” ft. Sean Simmonds. “Home” was produced by Kelvin Wooten (Jill Scott, Anthony Hamilton, Mary J. Blige, Earth, Wind & Fire),and is currently going for adds on the Radio and Records (R&R) and Media Base’s Christian CHR, Christian Rock, and Rhythmic Charts.

Kenn is busy readying his new album, but just to hold you over until the new album you can head over to iTunes and get his new single “Home” ft. Sean Simmonds. Check out the official music video for “Home” down below, and stop by Kenn’s newly launched site Stay tuned for more info regarding Kenn Orr and his forthcoming project, and be sure to connect with Kenn on Facebook and Twitter.



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