Kevin Thornton: From "I Wanna Sex You Up" to "Full Armor Of God"

Friday 19th June 2009

Tony Cummings quizzed singer, evangelist and one-time member of the Color Me Badd hitmakers, KEVIN THORNTON, about his music and ministry

Kevin Thornton
Kevin Thornton

Kevin Thornton Ministries is an evangelistic ministry "dedicated to spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ through word (God's word), deed (a Christ-centred lifestyle), song and testimony." The man behind the Texas-based ministry has a powerful testimony indeed. In the '90s Kevin Thornton was a member of the platinum selling R&B group Color Me Badd who had such million-selling hits as 1990's "I Wanna Sex You Up". Kevin drank deep of the poison chalice of fame and fortune. He told Charisma magazine, "I used marijuana and alcohol but my real vice was girls." Thornton fathered three children during his eight years in the band. "Women that looked like models were coming on to me, and I indulged. I was wildly irresponsible." But behind the scenes things weren't good. He discovered that the group's management were embezzling Color Me Badd's earnings. He faced a strained relationship with the mother of one of his children and found himself thinking seriously about killing a man who had savagely beaten his sister. Kevin recalled, "I used to ask God to kill me and take me out of my misery. I felt hopeless."

In his youth before Color Me Badd the singer had attended church and now he began reading his Bible and praying. It was at his mother's home in Oklahoma on 1st June 1997 that he asked Christ to be his Saviour. After dedicating his life to Christ Kevin sought to restore his relationship with his son Dominique and daughter Breyanna and with his girlfriend Tamme, who was pregnant with his third child. The two began attending church together and eventually married.

As a Christian Kevin began to feel convicted about singing Color Me Badd's provocative songs. He said, I prayed to God and said, 'If you want me to leave, let me know.'" Thornton faced a turning point in October 1998. Manager Johnny Wright, who guided to stardom NSYNC, Backstreet Boys and Britney Spears, showed interest in the group. But before Thornton, who had moved to Dallas, was to discuss a management contract with another group member, he visited a Christian nightclub event. It was Halloween and local youth minister G Craige Lewis was preaching on the music industry. Remembered Thornton, "I heard Jesus say, 'Now is the time [to quit].' And I said, 'Not now, God. Things are finally looking up for us.' I heard Jesus say, 'Whatever you give up for me I will increase you double.' At that moment Lewis said, 'The Spirit of the Lord is telling me to tell you to forget about the contract.'"

Although Thornton and his wife had a new home to pay for, he left the group and was soon driving a warehouse forklift. For years he sang little, resisting the urge to launch a Christian music career. He said, "I would have only added a secular mindset to a Christian agenda. I had to learn compassion. I had to learn to rely on the Lord and to do that I had to be stripped of everything."

Color Me Badd
Color Me Badd

He focussed instead on evangelising his co-workers and preaching and singing in churches. He turned down opportunities to sing secular music and over time he began to doubt God's promise. "I asked God what was going on, why he didn't leave me along where I was?" he said. "But every time I got that way, God would send someone who wanted to hear what I had to say."

Then one day at the church on Rush Creek - the Arlington, Texas, congregation he attended - Thornton met Edward Smith, a successful businessman deeply involved in mission work. Believing in Thornton, Smith introduced him to recording engineer Derek Hoiem, who in 2005 helped Thornton record his first Christian album, 'Conversion'.

When reviewed by Cross Rhythms, Paul Poulton wrote about 'Conversion', "[Kevin's] enthusiasm for his subject carries him across the dividing wall of easy rhymes verses and good poetry and makes me willing to listen to his message. Neat guitar lines, funky programmed parts, a smattering of R&B, gospel and rock."

Standouts on the album were "Oh Mammy" featuring a three year old Mikayla Thornton and "Full Armor Of God" with a powerful lyric from Kevin ("In preparation of what Satan tries to do to me/I'll take the shield of faith/To shut the Devil down/The helmet of salvation will be my crown"). As it turned out, 'Conversion' almost went unnoticed in the conservative gospel market. Cross Rhythms asked Kevin whether he was disappointed that 'Conversion' didn't lead to a fulltime career in gospel music. His response was emphatic. "No. Not at all. I'm not looking for a career in gospel music. I'm looking to make a career of spreading the Gospel of Jesus with the gifts that he has given me. If that results in a Christian recording contract. . . so be it. If not, so what? My life's goal is to help usher millions of souls to Heaven by whatever means God sees fit."

Kevin Thornton: From "I Wanna Sex You Up" to "Full Armor Of God"

Kevin said all the songs on 'Conversion' were special to him though one in particular, a soulful revival of the Andrae Crouch oldie "My Tribute" is a particular favourite. "'My Tribute' was a hard one to get through during the recording process because the words are such a beautiful love song to the Lord. In addition, the song 'As One' is special because it expresses how I feel about my wife."

Cross Rhythms asked Kevin whether his years with Color Me Badd were difficult to talk about. "Not at all. The only painful memories I have are of some of the poor decisions we made in choosing our business team. Other than the fact that they ripped us off pretty good, Color Me Badd has given me a voice. Because of my past people are interested in listening to me. Now what I have to say has eternal benefits."

The years that Color Me Badd were together certainly left a mark in recording history. Discovered by Kool & The Gang's Robert Bell in 1990, Color Me Badd's debut single "I Wanna Sex You Up" made number two in the States and number one in the UK. The pop/R&B/hip-hop group were described as a "post New Kids On The Block with a street-dance image." The group's debut album 'C.M.B.' went triple platinum while the group had smash hit singles in the US like "I Adore Mi Amore" (1990), "All 4 Love", "Thinkin' Back" and "Slow Motion" (1991) and "Forever Love", "Time And Chance" and "Choose" (1993). But by the time "Sexual Capacity" was released in 1996 the band were beginning to run out of steam. Cross Rhythms asked Kevin if he was embarrassed when he hears "I Wanna Sex You Up" on the radio . The singer/evangelist responded, "No. It honestly brings back fond memories. That was our first song, our first big hit! We were close friends back then and had the opportunity of watching each other's dreams come true. Besides, compared to what's out there today, 'I Wanna Sex You Up' seems like a nursery rhyme."

Kevin was asked if he saw any of his one-time CMB group members - Bryan Abrams (lead singer), Sam Walters (today a successful record producer hitting with Jessica Simpson, Fantasia and Natasha Bedingfield) and Mark Calderon - today. Said Kevin, "I don't see them that often, although I do speak to them periodically. Initially a few of them had issues with my abrupt departure from the group because we were about to sign a lucrative deal. But now they realise that I am truly a man of God, earnestly seeking his face."

In August 2006 Kevin became a licenced minister. "I love to preach more than I love to sing," he admitted. "Singing is the dessert, but the Word of God is the main course." Not that music has been completely forgotten. Kevin is now hard at work on his second solo album. Today Kevin lives in Arlington, Texas with his wife and four children. He remarked, "I have been happily and faithfully married for about 12 years. That is saying a lot because before I got married, I was a dog!"

Away from music and preaching, Kevin has a passion to see deep relationship displayed in the body of Christ. He commented, "True, committed relationship with Christ is paramount, yet it is so often overlooked in the modern Church. We tend to get caught up in 'religiosity' and self-absorption that we forget that we serve a jealous God. Moreover, relationship with one another is key! With so much despair in the world today, people want know that someone genuinely cares about them. They have a desire to feel loved by God, but many of them will never FEEL the love of God until we first express it to them naturally. Oftentimes it only takes a smile, a hug or an attentive ear." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


Reader Comments

Posted by Laura Valentina in Port Richey Florida @ 18:32 on Oct 30 2019

I have known K.T. (Kevin Thornton) for many many years now and K.T. even though not blood related K.T. is family to me KT is an AMAZING person always very kind, gentle and just a beautiful soul! I had a wonderful birthday a few months ago with K.T. & K.T. music partner Martin Kember on August 23, 2019 in Tampa Florida I’m so happy to have both with me on my birthday! Just beautiful memories

Posted by mst in ohio @ 03:28 on Jul 13 2015

I read somewhere that he's back with cmb! That is so disturbing and if true, he needs prayer because hes one of the few who really left because they truly wanted God more than money! This article was only part of the story! G Craige Lewis spoke about it on one of his CDs years ago, so between the article and G Craige Lewis it is obvious that he wanted no part of the world! He was willing to struggle and forsake everything to follow Jesus! That doesn't seem to happen often! The times it does, it's the same story, they leave it all, not some , and you don't normally hear much about them, like vanity who was with prince. I hope it's not true.

Reply by Carmelita Barrett in Arlington tx @ 21:32 on Jun 22 2018

I used to work with you Sir for Ms Defenbaugh at the Dollar 🌲

[report abuse]

Posted by wilfred in kenya @ 12:42 on Jan 7 2014

Hi am happy to hear your part of story.
my one problem is why have you made your hair as i that of a woman?
I thought Paul says thay every thing should be done decently and in order. Why still stick with that ganster or heathen way of live?

Reply by OmnyRa in U.S.A. @ 14:34 on Mar 7 2015

You need to understand that cultures around the world are different. The hairstyle he has in this article is not a "woman's" or "gangsta" style to us. Black people in this country have been wearing braided hairstyles for at least as long as I've been alive (47 yrs). The best braiders were the Africans in our communities and braids were seen as a more culturally acceptable hairstyle than jheri curls and straight perms, and was seen as connecting with our African hrritage. Maybe it's a feminine style in your country, but we look at some of the things Africans wear as feminine here. It's simple ignirance if other cultures.

[report abuse]

Posted by Doronimo in FL @ 21:42 on Jan 2 2014

Definitely need to keep Kevin in prayer, he's back with Color Me Badd

Posted by Nicole Pipkins in United States @ 22:26 on Jun 7 2013

I remember hearing this testimony on G. Craig Lewis's The Truth Behind Hip Hop 1 dvd and was blown away. All glory to God for answering his prayers and using this man as a vessel for his glory. May God continue to bless him, his family and ministry involvement.

Posted by Ralph Boland in Trinidad West Indies @ 01:18 on Apr 13 2013

It is realy the work of GOD and the obidience of Kevin to give up worldly gains and accepted Jesus Christ as his Lord and saviour. Quote "what does it profit a man to gain the world and loose his soul". Kevin I realy admire your stand for God. Hope that you can return to Trinidad with a message from God for our young people. Because the last time you were here, was with the group performing that big hit song. I am a believer and I pray that Almithy God will use you and your family mithly in the body of Christ here on the earth. GOD BLESS.

Posted by CAROLYN M SWANSON in DAYTON, OHIO @ 03:33 on Oct 29 2011


Posted by pastor Jeremie in rwanda @ 10:35 on Apr 30 2011

I'm called pastor Jeremie I'm married my wife called Jolie we have three sons we live in Rwanda Capital city of Rwanda .
we are the founder of Heritage Ministries I'm senior pastor of these church
we work Rwanda and Congo Missions . we trained the missionaries and sent them to the missions
in the Congo we help the Orphans and the women they did rape.
our missions is to proclamations the good news to the people who have not received Jesus
to plants the new churches in the areas where they have not churches .
it is why after visiting your website and seeing God's work and your testimony into you we invite you to come to visit us here in Rwanda and Congo .
I pray that God provide to you all means we will help to your tips and for the support you to do the pastors conference and revivals meeting of healing and deliverance Rwanda and Congo
be blessed
pastor Jeremie
Heritage Ministries
Rwanda Congo Missions

Posted by James Grundy in Oklahoma City @ 13:45 on Nov 15 2010

My prayers are with you and your family. "J.Grun" NWC.

Posted by Mark Houston @ 12:51 on Jun 20 2009

I remember their big hit single. It kept Amy Grant's Baby Baby single off the top of the UK Hit Parade. Good to hear he's now on track.

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