Gospel superstar Marvin Sapp is planning to follow up his highly successful 2010 album "Here I Am" with a live album of all new songs, which he's gearing up to record on Oct. 7 at Evangel Cathedral in Upper Marlboro, Md., near Washington, D.C., for a 2012 release.
"It's the first time I've actually done a live record outside of my comfort zone... of Grand Rapids, Mich.," Sapp, who's the founding and senior pastor at Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in his home town, tells Billboard.com. "D.C. is one my largest audiences. They buy tons of records of mine in Washington, D.C.... So we're going to do something different and see how it works."
The new album will speak to how Sapp has managed during a rough period in his life, a five-year stretch during which he lost several people close to him, including his father and, last year, his wife MaLinda to colon cancer. "The focus of this record," he explains, "is how you can come through situations and still remain on top. It's about how the enemy has a way of hitting you with stuff to cause you to fold and buckle, but I'm still standing."
So are Sapp's three children, aged 12, 14 and 17, who he's now raising as a single father. "We're doing good," Sapp says. "I tell people all the time, as long as my kids are doing good, I'm gonna be alright. They're adjusting very well, and I just really try to keep them well and loving one another. We've got a slogan -- 'us four, no more.' Right now it's just us, and as long as that remains the focus, I believe the rest of our days will be blessed."
Sapp is currently putting together material for the album -- including one song called "I Made it Through" -- and describes the music as "Marvin Sapp with an edge. It's gonna be a little more high-energy, the production's gonna be a little tighter. Even though I'm doing the whole album live, some is going to sound live and some will sound like it's studio. We're gonna mix it up."
Sapp -- a former member of the group Commissioned who went solo in 1996 -- has been on a career winning streak during the past four years. His 2007 album "Thirsty" went gold, landed at No. 28 on the Billboard 200 and also topped the Gospel chart, sweeping seven Gospel Stellar Awards in 2009. "Here I Am" debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 -- the highest charting album ever by a gospel artist -- and Sapp snared another batch of Stellar trophies and a GMA Dove Award for Contemporary Gospel Song of the Year for "The Best of Me," which was No. 1 Gospel and Top 10 Urban/AC.
Nevertheless, Sapp contends that, "I feel no pressure because I'm not trying to do anything but stay in the niche I've grown accustomed to. One thing I've learned is that as long as I do what my audience enjoys, I'm gonna be alright. I know what they like. I have a formula, and my formula is if it's not broke, don't fix it. Keep doing what you do and people that enjoy what you do are gonna buy your music and love on you. So in the spring of 2012 we'll bring it out and hopefully we'll set records again."