via: sacculturehub.com – Michael P. Coleman
“I didn’t renounce my faith. I renounced my marriage.”
Montell Jordan entered the music scene with a bang in 1995 with the R & B and pop smash “This Is How We Do It”. The album of the same title eventually achieved multi-platinum status, and Jordan followed the single up with the Top 40 hit “Somethin’ 4 Da Honeyz”. In the years that followed, he went on to write and produce his own material as well as for other artists, including Deborah Cox (“Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here”), Christina Milian, 98 Degrees, and Sisqó (the Number 1 smash “Incomplete”.) Over the years, Jordan was engaging and open in talking about his career, but remained relatively mum about his private life.
I recently caught an episode of TV One’s excellent “Unsung” featuring Jordan, and I was drawn in by his infectious “This Is How We Do It”. The song always take me back to the 1996 University of Michigan Black Alumni Reunion Weekend. Oh, I dropped it like it was hot that night! I never blamed Jordan for the injuries that followed, and after I was released from the hospital, I remained a fan. But I digress…
I was surprised to learn from the “Unsung” episode that Jordan entered the ministry full time in 2010, now serving at a mega church in Atlanta. I was even more surprised to learn that he has been married – to the same woman – throughout his entire career.
As Jordan prepared to release his second Christian album, Covered, and first book, Make Your Marriage Your Masterpeace, I caught up to him, as I had some follow-up questions that “Unsung” didn’t ask. He elaborated on his and his wife’s decision to hide their marriage at the beginning of his career in an effort to sell more records, the evolution of his faith and his call to the ministry, and his book. Jordan also explained why he thinks Christians shouldn’t limit themselves to only listen to gospel music, and why he thinks he’s “the Will Smith of Christian music.”
I can‘t say I was surprised to learn you were a man of faith, but I was surprised to see you involved in such a multi-ethnic church, especially with your background and history with a traditional, predominantly African American church. What attracted you to Victory World?
I grew up in a black neighborhood, attending a Baptist church. I went to a public elementary school, a Christian middle school, a Catholic high school, and a Church of Christ college, Pepperdine University, where I was pretty much a minority on campus. From a spiritual standpoint, I saw everything from Baptists to Catholics to everything across the board. So although I started in the Baptist faith, I was able to see lots of different types and colors of people. Once “This Is How We Do It” and my career took off, I started performing for predominantly black audiences, but once the music started crossing over, I found myself in front of all types of different audiences. I went on tour with Boyz II Men, and they had huge pop and urban audiences. I did a world tour, going to Korea, Japan, so I was always in front of very diverse audiences. Later, I realized that some people’s ministry school is the seminary, and mine was the world of R & B – that’s where I traveled around the world and saw different people and experiences, different styles of participation and engagement in music. Through Victory World Church, after many black charismatic church experiences, which focused a lot on emotion, this was one of the places where I was able to not praise God for what he’s done, but worship Him just for who he is, regardless to whether he’s done it or not. At Victory, we put our musical tastes, ethnicities and cultures aside for the God culture, for Jesus culture.
I hadn‘t thought about your pop crossover setting the stage for what you‘re doing now.
That was my training ground. Some people have been in ministry for years, and they know what they know. For me, I’ve known something different. I’ve seen so many different things, that it just seemed natural to me. I joke around – in a world where there are racial tensions, you have a guy like Will Smith who is the unoffensive type of black guy. He’s one of the guys who could babysit the kid of a white soccer mom in suburbia, whereas that same mom might have a concern about a different type of guy watching her kid. I like to feel as though with my upbringing and experience with different cultures that I can be that unoffensive urban presence that can reach all types of different people. I feel like I could be a Christian music version of Will Smith – I can perform for black audiences, white audiences – I can go almost anywhere because of that crossover appeal.
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