JJ Hairston and Youthful Praise are taking over churches, schools and radio.
Last October Hairston released his I See Victory album, which hit Billboard gospel charts at no. 1, and featured hit songs “I Feel You Moving” and “Bless Me,” plus his new ‘You Are Worthy” single. This year he continues to strike masses with a follow up tour of the same name and his “Amazing Love” radio takeover, where he co-hosted a christian music radio show that dabbled in marital topics with his wife Trina Hairston at Hot 937 in Connecticut over the weekend. He was also recently tapped to become the new director of music at City of Praise Family Ministries in Maryland.
With a bunch of exciting ventures unfolding for Hairston, we caught up with the powerhouse to talk about hosting radio, his memorable moments in touring and moving his family to Maryland. Check it out below…
GOSPEL GOODIES: Tell me about your recent appointment to Music Director at Jericho City of Praise.
JJ Hairston: I’m very excited. It’s funny, my wife and I always said we’d love to live in the Maryland area. We never really thought it would happen, but there’s a church down there named City of Praise with Bishop Joel Peebles. They had us [Youthful Praise] come down and sing last year a few times and the last time we went there, Bishop Peebles had my wife and I sit on the pulpit. I thought, ‘This is strange, but maybe they do this for all artists.’ But then he approached me and asked me about us coming down there and serving as director of music. My wife fell in love with the word there. It wasn’t necessarily about any financial increase, it was more so about the word we would receive there. Then immediately after that my son got accepted into Bowie State University so it all just made sense for us to be in the Maryland area.
So it all just kind of fell in place. Where are you two originally from?
I’m originally from Brooklyn, NY My wife’s originally from Roosevelt, NY We didn’t meet until we got to Bridgeport, CT. My parents and her parents were associates back in the day because her dad was a choir director at a church called Institutional in Brooklyn, and my mom was the choir director at my grandfather’s church.
What’s going on with the radio show you and your wife are hosting?
We taped it and came out great. It was very comfortable. I never really thought that we would be able to do it together. We just tried it because we’re looking to really promote traditional marriage. We had people who asked us questions and it flowed well. We’ll probably do it more often.
What’s one piece of advice you would give newly weds?
I’d say to learn each other first. So many times we get married and then we try to get back to business as usual. There’s that first romantic period that’s about a year – and that’s debatable [laughs] – but then after that you kind of getting adjusted to being in a house with someone. In learning each other, everything’s not going to be exactly what you’re used to when you’re by yourself, and that’s ok. But sacrifice and giving is all a part of marriage. It’s not all about making myself happy. It’s about making the other person happy. If both of you are trying to make each other happy, then both of you will wind up being happy.
That’s really important. I’m sure being aware of that compromise from the start would eliminate the rapid growth of divorces.
Now, let’s talk about the music and get into the tour. You’re all over! What’s been your favorite place to perform in your “I See Victory” tour?
My favorite place was Charlotte, NC. We went to a church there. It was for Melanie Clark from Praise 100.9. It was awesome. Every stop is great. We weren’t expecting any more or less of any place. But Melanie’s been a great friend of ours for many years so we went. The place was jam-packed and those people were so excited. The young people were excited. In the middle of the set we were thinking we were going to do our normal set, but all of a sudden the young people were dancing and rejoicing. It was crazy. We actually had alter call there, and it was an amazing experience. We did eventually finish the concert but a 40 minute to an hour concert ended up being like a two-hour concert. God really blessed us.
Do you ever get any cool testimonies from young people at the shows you do?
All the time. Young people who say they’re considering suicide and now are changing their minds. We actually, because of that, it’s so funny how many young people are thinking about suicide… we don’t really think about it. We think that because they’re church kids, they’re not thinking about that. But it’s an epidemic that young people in general are facing. Church kids are not exempt. So we actually do an alter call because of that. We try to, everywhere we go, we get young people all the time who’ve changed their minds. The “After This” song has been a blessing to lots of people so we always sing “After This” and we get different testimonies [spurred from the song]. Their testimonies have been a blessing to us.
Do you have a testimony behind your latest song, “You Are Worthy”?
The song “You Are Worthy” is one of those intimate worship songs. It’s funny, I was driving in my car and I just started singing the chant, “Oh you are worthy,” and it turned into a song. It wasn’t one of those things where I was expecting it to be a song; I thought it was just going to be one of those intimate times I had with just me and God but it wound up being something that I fell in love with. And Melissa Bell-Bethea is just an awesome singer so I had to put her on the song.