2019 American Music Awards

Gospel Stars React to Kanye West's 'Jesus Is King': Exclusive

Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
Kanye West attends The Fashion Group International's annual "Night of Stars" gala at Cipriani Wall Street on Oct. 24, 2019 in New York City. 

Upon its Oct. 25 release, Kanye West's Jesus Is King was met with polarizing reactions from fans and critics alike. As the star's first officially-recorded foray into the realm of gospel after launching his popular weekly Sunday Service at the start of 2019, the LP features guest appearances by the likes of Kenny G, Clipse, Ty Dolla $ign, Ant Clemons and West's own Sunday Service Choir.

And while some fans questioned West taking up the mantle of worship leader, gospel stars including Erica Campbell, Koryn Hawthorne and Marvin Sapp had nothing but praises to sing regarding the rapper's latest creative venture. 

Check out what Campbell, Hawthrone, Sapp and others had to say about Jesus Is King below. 

Warryn Campbell (produced track “God Is” on Jesus Is King): “‘God Is’ is a song I heard in church my whole life. I had never heard the actual record until a few years ago. I sampled it and would play around with it from time to time but never found a real use for it (shout out to my buddy Tommy Couch at Malaco Records for clearing it). I happened to be with Kanye [one day] and I played it for him. He loved it and put his swag on it. I believe it is completely hypocritical to judge Kanye, or anyone for that matter, for trying to grow in his faith and commitment to God. I believe he is completely sincere and God has His hand on Ye’s life.”

Erica Campbell (solo artist and member of Mary Mary): “It’s great for Kanye to make this record. He doesn’t need it, so I think it’s a genuine reflection of where he is. I hope God continues to work on his heart and he continues to grow in faith. This is also good for the genre. It hopefully shows other kids -- who maybe want to make gospel music but don’t think it’s ‘cool’ enough -- that it’s OK to sing for Jesus. Because when you work for God, you can’t lose. So I don’t really see why anyone would be unhappy about Kanye doing gospel. It’s about souls coming to Christ -- not about the genre. And hopefully this can bring more people to Jesus.”

Travis Greene: "Kanye’s album is a breath of fresh air, full of energy and passion. I couldn’t be happier about his bold declaration of faith. This album is a huge win for Christians everywhere and I’ll be listening to it for years to come. #EngageCulture."

Koryn Hawthorne: “I’m super excited about the journey Kanye is on. It’s a journey we all have taken, and I’m so proud of his boldness in this season of his life! As a young gospel artist, I cannot wait to hear the diversity he will bring into this genre. Jesus is NOT one-dimensional and he keeps proving and showing us just that in so many new ways. Stay strong, Kanye.“

Marvin Sapp: “It is amazing to see this transformation in Kanye West unfold. In Christ, all things are made new. I congratulate him on his new life in Christ and celebrate that because of this album, the cultural masses are talking about and experiencing Jesus in a bold new way.“

John P. Kee: "I love that Kanye can go onstage and introduce the gospel of Jesus Christ to a world of people that may never hear it otherwise. His movement motivates me to continue finding unique and innovative ways to bridge the gap between mainstream and gospel music.”

James Fortune: “In a world filled with so much social and political unrest, the message of love is much needed. Our brother Kanye West is spreading the undeniable inclusive love of Jesus Christ with this new body of work to those who may never have considered or need to reconsider who God IS -- and it’s a message that’s right on time.”

Isaac Carree: "I think it’s amazing that Kanye West is spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ all over the world! After all that IS what Gospel is... Good News. If we as Christians/ Believers can stop criticizing and judging, and do what the word says which is PRAY, I believe God will not only continue to use Kanye, but he will KEEP Kanye! At least that’s my prayer."

Charles Jenkins: "The album is amazing but his process is even more amazing. I attended several Sunday Services early on, I have spoken with Ye several times and Fellowship Chicago was the first church to welcome him outside of the LA events. I have heard his heart repeatedly. I have already welcomed him. We all have a past and need prayer for our every moment going forward. I’m excited that he is cooking for himself and inviting millions of people over for dinner. It’s beautiful."

Paul "pda" Allen of PAJAM (producer for Beyoncé, Justin Timberlake, J Moss, Marvin Sapp, Kirk Franklin): “I’m always excited when someone gives their life to Christ, the transformation is life changing. Kanye West along with his platform is a tremendous addition to the Kingdom.”

--Reporting by Jim Asker and Gail Mitchell


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