Gospel music is about to get a much needed melodic injection with the release of Refocus, the musical menu, showcasing the diversity and dynamism of Chicago’s explosive ensemble known as Kenny Lewis & One Voice. Personifying power and praise Chicago choirs are known for, Kenny and his loyal crew have returned with an album that appeals to fans of 3-part harmony, as well as millennial worshipers wanting a consecrated encounter.
With the new album now available on iTunes, GooglePlay and Amazon, BlackGospel.com caught up with Kenny to find out what ‘refocus’ is really all about. Are we talking music? Ministry? Or much much more? Kenny kept it 100 with us the whole time, making it a colorful conversation for everyone to enjoy.
Christopher Heron: Just curious to know as a maestro or a recording choir, which is your favorite section? Is it altos, sopranos, or tenors?
Kenny Lewis: [laughs] My favorite section is absolutely sopranos. You have tenors who can hit alto notes, altos are just altos. Nobody can hit the soprano notes. To me, they’re in a class all by themselves and there’s nothing like a clear, precise soprano that will never give up on a note. That’s so funny. I’ve never been asked that question.
Christopher Heron: Now you’re a man who pays great attention to presentation. What’s one accessory all men should have?
Kenny Lewis: A watch. I don’t care how classy you are, there has to be a wrist piece. You can get the pocket square, the tie, and all that but you need the right accessory. The watch can throw your whole presentation off.
Christopher Heron: That’s good to know.
Kenny Lewis: From Kenny’s Chronicles.
Christopher Heron: You’re a native to Chicago. Who is your favorite, internationally known Chicagoan?
Kenny Lewis: It would have to be Barack Obama and the reason is because there is so much negative publicity about Chicago these days but Chicago is amazing. I’ve been around te world and I’ve never seen a downtown like Chicago. I am so proud to witness President Obama as a native, represent like he has. It would be him.
Christopher Heron: And as someone who’s always appreciated choral music, what’s perhaps your favorite choral gospel album or artist of all time?
Kenny Lewis: Of all time? That’s rough. I will say my favorite artists of all time would have to be Thomas Whitfield and Andrae Crouch. Crouch to me was the first to push music beyond the four walls of the church. He was a dare devil. I absolutely love him. His background vocals were always phenomenal. And Whitfield was just out of the box. So those have always been my two favorite.
Christopher Heron: Chicago is the mecca for Gospel choirs. When you embarked on this journey in ministry, in artistry, what did you believe was going to distinguish One Voice from other choirs in your city?
Kenny Lewis: This is really crazy because I just had this discussion. You have to find your niche, you have to find what works for you, you have to find what’s unique about your ministry. I didn’t grow up just listening to just choir music. I loved quartet, I loved The Winans and The Clark Sisters, and I always felt like if they can do 4 or 5-part harmony, why can’t a choir do it? And that has literally been our niche.
I call this project a musical buffet. It’s jazz, it’s traditional, it’s quartet, we’ve got it. And that’s what we’re displaying on this album and that’s what our niche is. I’m so technical when it comes to vocals. You can’t sing a hip hop song like you would sing a Praise & Worship song. So I think that’s the thing that distinguishes us. Whatever you may have, a CCM conference, a Church of God In Christ convention, we can do it. If it’s Urban and we’re dressing down, we can do that too.
Christopher Heron: You have an interesting title for the new album – Refocus. Why was it the right title?
Kenny Lewis: I think our country is in such disarray and our focus is on everything else except Jesus. I was encouraged to invoke people to refocus and get their attention back on Jesus. I’m praying and hoping that the music would gravitate them to refocus on Him. One of my favorite scriptures is Roman 8:28. It says, ‘’All things work together for the good of them that love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.’’ I’m committed to loving Him knowing that He will take care of my business as long as I love Him. So that’s the intent, that the music would reposition us as a church of vision to Refocus on Him.
Christopher Heron: What’s your hope and prayer for this album?
Kenny Lewis: I told God I wanted the music to transcend generations and reach people that I would never get to see. God began to give me songs that I feel you don’t need to be a biblical scholar to understand. The word is a blueprint but in ministry people shouldn’t have to be a biblical scholar to understand what’s your message. I think that’s what 2017 is about. Give me a real, effective, encouraging, inspiring Word that’s easy to understand. Just a right now word.
Christopher Heron: Once the last song has played on this album, is there an impact or impression you hope to make with the public?
Kenny Lewis: At this point in my career, I’m not here to beat anyone over their head with the Word. I pray that my impact would encourage, inspire people to do better, to not give up, to hang in there. Many things come to destroy us and prohibit us from progressing. So my prayer is that the words in the song would remind you to say, ‘’I can do better. I can achieve better. God is still going to work it out on my behalf. I have no other choice but to trust Him and believe that He’s going to come through for me.’’
To connect with Kenny Lewis & One Voice, for info on the new album, Refocus, and for tour dates and booking the Chicago choir, visit the official landing page at www.kennylewisonevoice.com.