Prolific songwriter, producer and recording artist, Anthony Evans, is a unique brand and faith-based artist in a variety of ways. In his 30s, Evans has already released an astounding 8 critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums. In addition to his copious, creative ways, Anthony has nurtured a niche within Christian music that’s part Contemporary Christian, part Contemporary Gospel and completely commercial in its appeal.
Finally, Anthony Evans is a trailblazer, being one of the first Christian artists to appear on the blockbuster TV show, The Voice. He’s also served double duties as a humble BGV for Kirk Franklin and supported the mega ministry established by his father, teacher & evangelist, Dr Tony Evans at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship.
Yet, in spite of the impressive credits and accolades, Evans remains authentic, vulnerable and transparent, 3 essential characteristics that serve Anthony’s ministry and artistry so well. The preacher’s kid recently released his 8th and most complete project to date, Back To Life, that’s bearing more evidence of Evans surge as a faith-based force to reckon with. BlackGospel.comspoke with the artistic Anthony Evans about his fantastic ride in recent years and his unique Christian sound that continues to cross over.
Christopher Heron: Let’s begin. What are a few albums you enjoyed listening to in 2016?
Anthony Evans: Oh my gosh. Well, when I’m making my album, I don’t listen to a bunch of music. So 2016 is not the year to ask me that question. For real. I was writing and making a record.
Christopher Heron: You really zone out like that?
Anthony Evans: Yes. I completely zone out. This sounds deep, but I don’t want to be like, ‘’I want to make it sound like this. I want to write like this person.’’ I’ve got to stay focused because I get destracted really easy. So in 2016, I was kind of quiet.
Christopher Heron: You come from a big family and big families tend to give nicknames to each other. Did you get a nickname?
Anthony Evans: Yes. When we were babies, my brother could not say Anthony, so he said, Nene. Today, we have Nene Leaks but back then, my whole life my family called me Nene. That’s my nickname. It’s not as good today because there are other people with that name.
Christopher Heron: Let’s talk about the music and ministry for a moment. Your latest album –Back To Life – is an amazing project. I’m loving it. Your sound is completely yours, a bit of Praise & Worship, Contemporary Christian, Pop. Your consistently within these genres. So who were your musical influences?
Anthony Evans: My musical influences were Andrae Crouch, Commissioned, The Winans, but at the same time, it was Amy Grant, Steven Curtis Chapman and Michael W. Smith. I considered all that music to be great. I was a kid, so I didn’t know genres. That’s why my music comes out that way because all those people were my influences.
Christopher Heron: I think I first saw your name on the credits of a Kirk Franklin album. Did you work with Kirk, back in the day?
Anthony Evans: Yes. I traveled with Kirk for four years starting in 2001, so it was right when he released The Rebirth Of Kirk Franklin. We weren’t called Kirk Franklin & The Family orGod’s Property or 1NC, we were just the singers who sang on that album. It was one of my best experiences in music because he taught me about life. 23 hours of the day, you do not spend on the stage. I’m very grateful for Kirk.
Christopher Heron: Your father, Dr. Tony Evans, is an international pastor, evangelist and author, so you’ve always been in the spotlight. Did church life prepare you for the big stage?
Anthony Evans: Yeah, it did. All my siblings say the same thing. We didn’t know as kids that we were in a masterclass for ministry. And we were just kids but what we got to watch and experience was like being in an operating room your whole life and then you become a surgeon. You’re going to have some insight on ministry because you spent all that time in the masterclass. So that’s what I feel happened, and I’m very grateful to my mother and father for their impact in our lives. Off the stage, they were the same people they were at church. And when you deal with preachers kids, who are always a little to the left, borderline crazy, you need consistency; we needed that. So yes, I feel it prepared all of us for what we’re doing now.
Christopher Heron: Your new album is enjoying success both on in Contemporary Christian and Black Gospel charts. Why do you think it’s taken so long for Black Gospel radio and Black Gospel fans to recognize and embrace your music ministry?
Anthony Evans: Great question. I feel like whenever you’re doing something new, it can take a second for people to grab hold of it. And I feel when I first started recording, I was 22 or 23 years old, I was trying to figure out a way to convey what was in my heart. The producers I was working with were trying to figure out a way, and I’m at a point now where it’s polished enough for it to make sense to both audiences. When you’re trying to connect with people who speak different languages, it’s a unique science and I feel we’re getting to the place.
Musically, people’s ears are now open to hearing more. You’ll hear more Contemporary Christians music on Black Gospel radio today than you’ve ever heard before because of Jonathan McReynolds and Travis Greene. I was doing that for a while, but people were like, ‘’Uhm.’’ And I’m not trying to say I did it first. I’m just saying there wasn’t a bunch of people creating that sound in Black Gospel before. There wasn’t a lot of people bringing in new sounds. So I feel like now given the temperature of the culture, we’re ready to move forward and experience something that’s a little bit different.
Christopher Heron: I can’t do this interview without talking about your appearance on The Voice. How did that platform help your ministry and career?
Anthony Evans: I could talk about how that show impacted my life for 40 minutes but I won’t [laugh]. From Day 1, something was said that changed the way that I think. The producer threw her pen down and said, ‘’Why are you 30 and I’ve never heard of you before?’’ All of a sudden, it was blinders off to have a woman who’s producing one of the largest shows in the world say to me she didn’t understand why the lane I’ve been in is all I’ve been doing. The show made me realize I could do more and I don’t mean leave what I’ve been doing in Christian music. I mean broaden it.
When I got to the show and spent time with Christina Aguilera as my coach and Jewel was my advisor, they would share things with me that was valuable. I know they were talking about Pop music and that wasn’t in line with what I would necessarily be think but it translated to me as Anthony Evans. There may not be people doing music that’s inspirational and works in CCM sounds with Gospel sounds, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not what I’m called to do. So you do it, and it will create a trail behind you.
Lastly, Jewel looked at me on day and said, ‘’I get it. You’re a Christian, a preacher’s kid, you love Gospel, I get all that. But that’s the tip of the iceberg for me because I need to know what’s going on underneath the surface that I’ll connect with. So if you have to write more honest, you have to let people know what’s going on.’’ She let me have it. You never get to see this side on the show. On the show, I sang for 90 seconds, but these are all things that happened. I ended up in LA working with another one of the coaches. Cee-Lo Green hired me to do a Christmas album with him, and that led to opportunities after opportunities,which led me to meeting all of the talented people I produced Back To Life with. The album was made with everyone I met from being on The Voice.
Christopher Heron: Your sister, motivational speaker & author, Priscilla Shirer – and you are launching The Fervent Tour.
Anthony Evans: My dad raised us to be about family. That’s it. My father is like, ‘’At the end of the day, when all this stuff goes away your family will be here.’’ It’s a privilege to be on the road with family. A few years ago, I started a production company called Sherman James Production –Sherman and James are my grandfather’s names – they’re the ones who made the initial decision to follow the Lord and change the course of the Evans’ life. I wanted to produce events, but I also wanted it to be something from my heart. I didn’t want to produce an event just to produce an event, and obviously family is that. My sister saw the vision.
She has a huge following, she acted in the movie The War Room and also wrote a New York Times bestselling book. So we started getting dates, first 6, then we added 12 more and now we added 20 more dates, so it’s becoming its own thing and my end goal is for people to experience excellence in ministry, worship and the Word but to also experience a night that’s built off of what I am and where we are right now. How authenticity, vulnerability, and transparency can change your life when connected to fervent prayer. That’s how the event started, and that’s what’s given it the legs that it has now.
Christopher Heron: One final question. What are you saying with the title of this album, Back To Life?
Anthony Evans: In every race, you have to have a starting line. To measure your progress, you have to have a place where you start. For me, it comes down to the three things. Authenticity, vulnerability, and transparency were the starting points for Back To Life. My goal is when a listener hears this album, they don’t hear sweet production and amazing singers with crazy resumes. I want them to hear my heart’s voice. I want them to hear about those three things. Authenticity, vulnerability & transparency. This record is about experiencing authenticity, vulnerability, and transparency and how that can bring you back to life.
For more information on Anthony Evans, the new album – Back To Life – and The Fervent Tour featuring Anthony Evans & Priscilla Shirer, visit the official website at www.anthony-evans.com.