CLOSE

Marvin Sapp’s biography declares he is “not a singer that happens to preach but a preacher called by God who is gifted to sing.” He may not define himself as a singer, but Sapp has been called a “gospel superstar” and recently made Billboard chart history.

His father sang in the local church’s male chorus and choir. His mother directed the youth choir. They recognized their son’s musical talent from an early age and Sapp began singing at age 4. He also knew early in life that he wanted to preach. Many children play house or doctor. Sapp played “church.”

“I would wrap a towel around my neck and a big safety pin and carry my Bible in the backyard,” Sapp said in a phone interview with the Herald-Journal.

Sapp began preaching at 22. He traveled and preached across the nation. He caught the attention of gospel recording artist Fred Hammond. Sapp joined Hammond’s group Commissioned in 1990 

Sapp has since gone on to a phenomenal solo career and gospel music stardom. His latest album, “Here I Am,” currently tops Billboard’s Gospel Albums chart and peaked at No. 2 on Billboard 200, which made it “the highest ranking for a gospel set in the chart’s 54-year history,” according to Billboard’s website.

Sapp will headline SpiritFest 2010 in Greenville. The “gospel extravaganza” also will feature other acclaimed and award-winning artists, including Vanessa Bell Armstrong, The Williams Brothers, The Rance Allen Group and Lee Williams & the Spiritual QC’s. SpiritFest 2010 starts at 6 p.m. Sunday at the Bi-Lo Center.

During the event, the fifth annual SpiritFest Legend will debut on stage and two high school seniors will each receive $2,500 scholarships and laptop computers.

 “It’s going to be a great, great time. I’m just excited about coming to the Greenville area again,” Sapp said.

About 13 years ago, Sapp was a candidate for pastor at Greater St. James Temple in Inman.

Today he lives in his native Grand Rapids, Mich., where he founded and serves as senior pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center Church. The church started in 2003 with 24 members gathering to worship in a restaurant Sapp owned. In less than seven years, Sapp said Lighthouse grew to about 1,500 members.

The theme of SpiritFest 2010 is “Prayer Still Works.”

Sapp sees evidence of answered prayers all around him — three healthy children, a thriving ministry and a successful music career.

Sapp said it’s “mind- blowing” God would take a man from “obscure” Grand Rapids and “catapult” him to national attention through his gospel music.

Sapp’s seventh album, “Thirsty,” also was successful with Gospel and secular audiences. “Thirsty” featured the hit “Never Would Have Made It.”

“I’ve learned that the reason why the song has had the impact that it has had is because all of us at some point have had ‘Never Would Have Made It’ moments. All of us at some point have been in positions and those places where we didn’t know how we were going to get through it … But God began to reveal to us that he was there all the time and that’s the reason why we made it through,” Sapp said.

“The Best in Me” from “Here I Am” is another of Sapp’s songs that has resonated with many listeners.

“Many of us have allowed people to define us,” Sapp said about why “The Best in Me” has had such an impact.

“We try to live up to their expectations, try to live up to their concepts and ideas of who we are and what we’re supposed to be, when we need to understand that we were fearfully and wonderfully made, created in (God’s) image and likeness and we can’t allow people to define us … ”

Sapp said he doesn’t know how he writes gospel songs. “Never Would Have Made It” and “The Best in Me” both developed during a “worship moment” at church.

His songs have encouraged millions of listeners. Some songs that encourage Sapp are “No Weapon” by Hammond; “Let Go, Let God” by PJ Morton and “Learning to Lean” by The Evereadys.

Sapp’s passion is providing a word or “little nugget” that uplifts people.

“I want what I say to be perpetual … so that it gives and keeps giving life and encouragement to people now and forever more. I think that’s the key component of any songwriter. That should be their heart. But it’s absolutely my heart as a writer of gospel music.”

article courtesy of TheBelleReport

Also On Praise Cleveland:
Kierra Sheard Shares Engagement Photos
5 photos