Tony Cummings reports on the Florida-based gospel singer with the number one Christian And Gospel Album Chart hit, WILLIAM McDOWELL
For the first time since Britain's Official Christian And Gospel Album Charts were established an African American gospel album has made it to number one. The fact that in its first week of release 'Sounds Of Revival' by Florida-based gospel singer and pastor William McDowell should outsell Hillsong worship, Jesus Culture, Bethel Music and Rend Collective is proof, if any was needed, that traditional black gospel still has a big international audience. But much more than that 'Sounds Of Revival' shows that the African-American church is being caught up in the world wide revival which is now spreading globally across churches and individual ministries. The 39 year old anointed revivalist William David McDowell, already a major gospel star in the US with his 'Witholding Nothing' album making number one on Billboard's gospel chart and being nominated for Grammy and Stellar awards, crafted much of the gospel praise music on 'Sounds Of Revival', while worshipping on multiple stages around the world.
He explained to The Christian Post, "We did a lot of what I call worship exploration. We explore what I call pregnant moments, which means moments in a service where it's clear that God is doing something in the room. If we have a piece of something we always recognize that every piece of something is part of a greater whole, so we explore those moments to find out what the greater statement is. We explore a lot of moments on stages across the world and those songs were birthed in those moments."
Because of McDowell's status in the world of gospel, it would have been easy for the singer/pastor to call on a bevy of gospel's biggest stars to guest on his album. However, apart from Travis Greene, McDowell looked beyond many of his well-known peers and friends in the gospel music industry to feature up-and-coming singers on his album. 'Sounds Of Revival' features his church's worship leaders Jose Garrafa and Trinity Anderson along with Taylor Poole who also travels with McDowell to perform. Garrafa, McDowell's best friend, created the song "Reveal" during a worship service and helped McDowell write the rest of the track, making it a special one for the pastor.
For the Grammy-nominated singer and lead pastor of Deeper Fellowship Church in Orlando, Florida, it was important to mentor the next new wave of gospel singers by including them in his latest project. McDowell explained, "I know I could have gotten a lot of my well-known good friends and they are anointed. But this is a specific intentionality to introduce the world to a group of people that I've been directly pouring into. I'm literally reproducing whatever it is I have in them so that it lives beyond me, because no person can do this forever. While we have the opportunity we need to pour into others and raise a platform for others."
McDowell was born in Cincinnati, Ohio on 31st August 1976. He moved to Orlando, Florida in his 20s to attend Full Sail University where he obtained a degree in Entertainment Business. His spiritual and musical mentoring was from Ron Kenoly, the African-American worship leader whose bestselling albums for Integrity Music broke down some of the barriers between white and black churchgoers. McDowell became Kenoly's music director and after college his mentoring continued under the tutelage of Sam Hinn (the brother of Benny Hinn).
In February 2009 Entertainment One Music released McDowell's debut album 'As We Worship'. The most enthusiastic review the album received was on the Cross Rhythms website who awarded it a 10 out of 10 rating and the album went on to chart on three Billboard charts - Gospel Albums, Independent Albums and Heatseekers. McDowell's second album 'Arise' was issued in 2011 and went on to make number one in the US gospel charts while his third, 2013's 'Withholding Nothing', was an even bigger success. As well as gaining the number one spot on the Gospel Albums chart, it made 28 on Billboard's Hot 200 mainstream albums chart. At the time of its release McDowell spoke to Christopher Heron about 'Withholding Nothing'. He said, "The inspiration behind this project was very, very simple. We believe that we captured something extremely special. The goal we set out to do this is to capture what it looks, feels and sounds like when God shows up in a room of people [who] respond to him and that's exactly what happened. It was absolutely incredible. Years ago, I had a dream. In this dream, it was a live recording. In the dream, people could barely get in. They had to come from far away and when they were walking in Black people saw White people and wondered what they were doing here, and White people saw Hispanic people and wondered what they were doing here, and they were all coming to the same worship event. That's exactly what this was."
Today McDowell's songs such as "I Give Myself Away", "Withholding Nothing" and "I Will Go Back" are being sung in worship services around the world. Said McDowell, "The motivation in doing worship, and particularly songwriting in worship, is the pursuit of trying to describe an indescribable God. Worship is directly tied to revelation. As God continues to reveal more of his character and more of his attributes, it causes more worship, so it's a never ending fascination with God and his presence. We'll spend the rest of our lives trying to come up with the words to match what we feel inside."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.