Chart Beat Thursday: Marvin Sapp, Lady Antebellum, J-Lo
Marvin Sapp

When it was time to record his next Verity album, Marvin Sapp decided not to tamper with the live formula he used on his 2007 best seller, "Thirsty." So on Oct. 16 last year, he returned to the same site-Resurrection Life Church in Grand Rapids, Mich.-with the same talent-including writer/producer Aaron Lindsey and backing vocals director Myron Butler-to record the March 16 release "Here I Am."

Verity got a jump on listener reaction to Sapp's new songs by providing a live video stream of the performance/recording and a chat room on its Web site. "Thousands of people watched the stream from everywhere in the world," Verity senior director of marketing Cheryl Marks says. "It gave us a bird's-eye view of what hit home."

That song was "Best in Me," which after only nine weeks is shaping up as another No. 1 for the singing pastor. Co-written by Sapp and Lindsey, the song is No. 3 on Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart. It's another uplifting anthem in the vein of Sapp's "Thirsty" mega-hit, "Never Would Have Made It." That song ruled Hot Gospel Songs for 46 weeks and claimed the crown for the longest-running No. 1 on a Billboard airplay chart. The crossover R&B hit also propelled "Thirsty" to sales of 706,000, according to Nielsen SoundScan.

"Here I Am" revolves around messages of inspiration, praise and guidance delivered to full emotional and joyous effect on "He Has His Hands on You," "Fresh Wind" and the title track. And Sapp takes his crossover appeal a step further by letting loose on the rock-infused "Praise You Forever."

To broaden Sapp's reach, Verity will stream the singer's street-date retail appearance at the Experience in Chicago. An upcoming Atlanta in-store will be broadcast/streamed to 13 markets by local radio partner WPZE and air personality CoCo Brother.

Marks notes that gospel, like other genres, has less opportunities to spread its message on TV and in magazines. "But the one thing we have that other genres don't is a church base." -Gail Mitchell

Questions? Comments? Let us know: @billboard

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