J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise are to the Millennial Generation what Hezekiah Walker and Donald Lawrence’s respective ensembles are to the prior generation of church folks who were raised on contemporary choir music. For just over a dozen years now, the Soul Train Award nominated/Stellar Award winning group has ignited a barn fire full of gospel radio hits that have become standard fare in Sunday morning church services (including many non-black congregations) such as “Lord, You’re Mighty,” “Incredible God, Incredible Praise,” “After This,” “Lord of All,” “Resting On His Promise,” “Bless Me,” “It Pushed Me” and their current Top 5 hit single “You’re Mighty”. Now, this exciting choir that’s shared stages with personalities as diverse as The Muppets’ Miss Piggy and Patti LaBelle is about to record their eight yet-titled live album to commemorate 15 years in the Gospel music industry on Wednesday, May 11th at City of Praise Family Ministries (8501 Jericho City Drive). The recording session begins at 7pm and is free and open to the public. The choir will perform past hits and feature some new songs as well.
Known for its brand of exuberant, urban-tinged gospel and praise & worship songs, Youthful Praise is anchored by Hairston, who both directs the choir and writes most of its material. Formed in 1991 out of Turner’s Faith Temple in Bridgeport, CT, the choir was originally known as Teens of TFT, and released a debut album, Awesome God in 2001. Ever since Hairston found his footing, it’s been onward and upward for Youthful Praise. They have churned out hit after hit with each album since they surfaced on the music scene. Their 2004 project Thank You For The Change which featured a guest spot by Coko of the platinum-selling R&B Supergroup SWV kept the momentum going but it was 2005’s Live…The Praise, the Worship that sent the group to the upper echelon of the gospel world. The biggest hit from the project was “Incredible God, Incredible Praise” that reached #6 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart.
Exalted, recorded live in Baltimore, was released on both CD and DVD in 2007 and Resting On His Promise releasing in 2009 which spawned two Top Ten radio smashes with its title-track and “Lord of All”. The choir also garnered a 2010 Soul Train Music Award nomination for Gospel Artist of the Year. Billboard #1 album After This, arrived in the spring of 2012 with the title-track single reaching the Top 10 and I See Victory following two years later in 2014 that debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart and garnered the group their first ever Stellar Award win for Contemporary Choir of the Year at the 31st Annual Stellar Awards.
Television appearances on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” “Good Morning America,” BET’s “Celebration of Gospel,” ABC TV’s “Lady Gaga & The Muppets Holiday Spectacular,” BET’s “Sunday Best,” The Stellar Gospel Music Awards and BET’s “Bobby Jones Gospel” and performances with Joan Osborne, Shirley Caesar, and Destiny’s Child increased the choir’s visibility and fan base over the next decade, as did its exuberant, energetic live shows and urban affinities.