Thousands of fans of Gospel superstar Marvin Sapp came out on Friday, October 7 at the Evangel Cathedral near Washington, D.C., for his live recording to show their support, their love and hear Pastor Sapp’s heart.

For many, there was much anticipation in the air, as it would mark a mile stone in the pastor’s life. For starters this recording was the first recording, since he was married to MaLinda that she was not present, following her death just over a year ago. “It’s also the first time I’ve actually done a live recording outside of my comfort zone of Grand Rapids, Mich.,” says Sapp, who’s the founding and senior pastor at Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in his hometown. “D.C. is one of my largest audiences. They buy tons of records of mine in Washington, D.C.”

Those who buy his music were there to support him too, as well as his mother, Lodena Sapp, his brother Henry Sapp, his three children, Madison, Mikaila and his oldest son, Marvin Jr. and several members from his home church in Grand Rapids.

However the Gospel music industry also made their presence known with Jazzy Jordan, Jeff Grant, Jessica Reedy, Pastor William Murphy, The Belle, Kenny Taylor, Ricky Dillard, Jawn Murray, Bubby Fan, Tia Smith, Tracie Artist, Snoopy, Gerald Scott, Holla Walla, Cheryl Jackson and several Gospel media outlets and others all sitting near the front showing their support.

In preparing for the recording, Sapp told us here at The Belle Report, “Before, I use to run my songs past by wife, but this time I ran them by my children.”

Sapp also stretched a bit with this project as he offered the public an opportunity to be apart of the recording. “Sheilah you know I have always tried to give new writers a chance, so I tweeted the opportunity for songwriters to submit new material. I got more than 2,000 songs sent my way and we decided to use 4 of them for the recording.”

Finally, after months of pulling long hours of writing tunes that spoke to how he has managed during a rough period in his life, including a five-year stretch during which he lost several people close to him, including his father, and last year his wife to colon cancer, Sapp was now ready to put his emotions into songs that would minister to others.

“The focus of this recording,” 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,” and on Friday night he did just that!

Marvin’s brother, Henry Sapp, who is also a comedian, opened up the evening with several hysterical jokes. The crowd loved him and truly appreciated his humor.

Giving directions for the recording on what to do, and not do, was Ray Bady. He said, “Because this is a live recording there will be no playing of tambourines, tweeters, facebook activity, videos for U-Tube taken or anything like that taking place because this is a live recording.”

Finally Marvin Sapp was introduced, with everyone standing to their feet to receive the man of the hour.

A short video played before he actually walked on stage which highlighted several events around the Washington D.C. area, including pictures of President Barack Obama, the Martin Luther King Monument and Marvin Sapp during an interview in a local radio station. At the end of the video presentation, from backstage, Pastor Sapp began to pray. It was powerful, heartfelt and truly set the tone of Praise for the evening. Following his prayer was a long applause, then praise, with Pastor Sapp making his way to center stage. Dressed in a tailor made silk champagne color suit, he was energized and with in seconds started singing his first song.

With his trusted producer Aaron Lindsey on keys, nine background singers, a Drummer, Guitarist, Hammond B3, Percussionist, Bass and the return of Myron Butler directing, the comfort zone was set and it was full steam ahead as Sapp kicked off with a couple of upbeat, edgy Contemporary tunes which were a bit different from his signature ballads.

As he wrapped up his third song, he reached out to the crowd and told them why he choice Evangel Cathedral. “I’ve been coming to Evangel now for 21 years. This is like my second home here.”

With water fall graphics falling on the huge screen behind Sapp, be began to sing, The Sound of Your Glory with a chorus that said, “Release the weight of your glory.”

With his ballad signature sound gradually resurfacing and becoming a bit more recognizable, he started to sing back to back traditional hymnals. He started with the words, “I Need thee Oh I need thee,” with the crowd joining in creating one voice throughout the sanctuary.

He continued with the traditional sound as he sung back to back traditional tunes with the first and sometimes second verse of popular songs including, “Bless the Lord Oh My Soul…” and “He Has Done Great Things…”. When he started singing “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus,” it was a much slower version, but each note truly resonated within your soul. He continued down this traditional harmolitical path with “Oh the Blood of Jesus”, “He Reaches the Highest Mountain” and “Wonder Working Power”.

“Look at your neighbor and say, I declare and decree that the rest of your days will be the best of your days,” said Sapp. “In life there are things that will happen that will make you want to quit. But even though we face battles, the fight is already fixed… Anyone out there got a reason to shout. This ain’t no show, but I’m here to tell you that God has brought me out of some stuff.”

With God’s presence now heavily present, the musicians took advantage of the moment and gave the saints a few beats to Shout and Praise the Lord. It was a blessed moment.

Sapp moved on singing, “Deeper” followed by a song with his background singers displaying their talented voices as they produced, a couple of times, within the following song, a five part harmony split. It was amazing with several musicians in the audience giving each other a high five.

The eighth song for the evening would become the most talked about song for the evening as Sapp became a bit more transparent. He said, “It’s no secret what I’ve gone through. I’ve tried to be an example. I’d be lying if I told you it’s been easy. There were days I felt like giving up and throwing in the towel. But God began to show me some things. Even though my life might have seemed out of control… I’ve got “A Testimony.”

He began singing this song that apparently was near and dear to his heart. Some of the lyrics included…

I made it through

See I didn’t Lose

Experience Lost

At an amazing cost

But I never lost faith in you

Towards the end of the song, he became a bit emotional, and walked away from the mic with tears running down his face. His feelings were understood by all.

He returned, “This is more than entertainment, but this is a lifestyle.”

Testimony was probably his longest song for the evening, but for many it simply wasn’t long enough, as so many were able to relate to what he had gone through as they also appreciated his transparency.

Sapp also took a moment out of the evening to recognize his mother, and invited her to come on stage along with his brother Henry. He thanked her for being a great mother and presented her with a reserved first class cabin on the next Radio One Cruise. She was overjoyed.

Sapp’s last three songs had everyone on their feet including “No Quitting in Me” and “Nobody Can Do Me Like Him.” However it was the last song that was appropriately placed, unknowing to many, as it was specifically in memory of his wife. Entitled, “Keep it Moving” these were the words that his wife MaLinda would often tell her husband and her family.

Ray Bady told us here at The Belle Report, “Even on her death bed MaLinda said, ‘Keep It Moving. Look forward and don’t look back.”

With those final words be sung, Sapp smiled and walked off the stage with applause following his every step.

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 all right. 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.”

The Belle and Marvin Sapp, Background singers and Pastor Marvin Sapp on stage

As for being a single father, Sapp says, “We’ve got a slogan — ‘us four, no more, ’” he said. “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 — a former member of the group Commissioned who went solo in 1996 — has been on a career-winning streak. “Here I Am” debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 — the highest charting album ever by a Gospel artist.

Look for the release of his new CD to hit in Spring 2012.

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