Kevin Lemons & Higher Calling is celebrating its 25th year anniversary as one of the most dynamic and captivating choirs in Gospel music with a new recording project that will be released later this year. As an introduction to the forthcoming LP, the single "For Your Good" is available now on all digital music providers. The lyric video for the song will help you sing along about the "good news from glory" that all things will indeed work out for your good.
If the name of this group sounds familiar, that is because over the past 25 years they have traveled nationally and internationally, sharing the stage with everyone from Bebe Winans to Kirk Franklin to Hezekiah Walker. They have also ministered on the telecast of The Stellar Gospel Music Awards.
We are honored to catch up with Kevin as he reflects on the history of the band.
Q: Kevin, thanks for doing this interview with us. Congratulations on the 25th Anniversary of Kevin Lemons and Higher Calling. Let's go back to the beginning, how did you first feel God's call to sing for him?
I was thrust into this because of my father's illness. That is when I recognized that I had the ability to do what I am doing. I didn't initially recognize any of this as God's calling on my life. I initially felt like it was my responsibility and duty. My focus was never on being a choir director or being in the spotlight. My focus was on doing my part as a son stepping in for my father when he became ill. Later, after realizing where God has gifted me and positioned me in ministry, music and leadership, I discovered it was in fact a calling on my life.
Q: How did Kevin Lemons and Higher Calling start?
Higher Calling started out as a bunch of young people who got together to participate in a musical revue that my father hosted every year. The revue featured choir members doing a "set" of traditional choir ensembles' music. We wanted to do a set featuring music that we as young people were listening to, so we put a group together just for the revue. We did songs by Kirk Franklin & The Family, Hezekiah Walker & LFC and other choirs that we loved. The group did so well, and enjoyed singing together so much, that we decided to keep it going.
Q: Over the last 25 years, what do you think were some of the highlights in the career of the team?
There are so many to choose from, but one of the highlights for the choir was when we were able to lend background vocals for what was known as the "brat pack" - Ricky Dillard, Hezekiah Walker and Donald Lawrence. We provided background vocals for these three at a GMWA concert. They really could have chosen anyone, but they agreed that we would be the choir to back them for fourteen songs! Three different directors, three different styles and three different types of music all in one night! The significance for Higher Calling is that we were ready when we got the call! Soon after, we were selected to be the choir for How Sweet the Sound, and then we were asked to the house choir for Sunday Best. We did that for four consecutive seasons. This journey has been a blessing!
Q: Can you name a couple of challenges that you guys went through and how you overcame them?
One challenge that I know of that we went through was almost like it was a series of deaths that took the ministry by storm; people who were close to us who we adored and loved passed away. Having to deal with death at a young age and as a group was difficult. From a leader's standpoint, it was hard finding the answers to the questions everyone was asking. I know personally it was a hard season and it was a hard season in the choir's life in dealing with that. God covered us though. He protected us and covered us and healed us, and we were able to get our strength back.
Q: Besides the new album, how are you and the team celebrating your 25th anniversary?
We are living out this jubilee month by month. We are traveling more and doing ministry engagements, and just loving on each other even more. We are going to start working on a new project in January.
Q: Talk to us about the current album, Third Round, why are you excited about this new record?
I'm excited about this new project because I wanted to give choirs (church choirs, community choirs, ensembles, etc.) another level of hope that choir music is on its way back...not just with Higher Calling, but I want to be a part of the new wave that is taking place, and let the church know that it is ok to have choirs again! Also, I want to let the choir world know that it is okay to have fun! I appreciate good quality traditional Gospel music, and traditional does not mean "old."
Q: What's the story behind the single "For Your Good"?
My nephew Brandon wrote the song. He was going through a difficult time and, as most young people do, he just started writing. The words flowed: "tests and trials that I've been through were trying to take me out..." But he emerges from that and wrote "but I have good news from glory..." Those words were a blessing to him, a blessing to me, and now a blessing to everyone who hears the song. We want everyone to understand that they have a "but" in their season...You may be down, but you're not "out."
We want to encourage the behavior of the scripture that says "now we know all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. Whatever the situation is, whatever you are going through, it is never designed to take you out. It is always designed to make you better, make you stronger, and we understand that it is working for your good.
Q: Over the last 25 years, how has your faith in God grown?
I would be lying if I said that everything has been operating on all cylinders all of the time. My faith has continuously been increased over the years, because it has continuously been tested. The truth is, I've had many things happen (financial, physical and otherwise) that were designed to take me out. My faith has been shaken several times, but I bounce back and realize that He would never put more on me than I can bear. If I'm able to stand and breathe, I am able to conquer. I would say that my faith continues to increase and grow day by day.
I think the worst thing that people can do is put a stigma on Christians that we aren't supposed to hurt or experience difficulties, or think that we don't bruise and we don't have bad days. We hurt like anyone else and we ask those questions "why", it's just that we know where our help comes from and we stay focused on that during trying times.