Every musician had to start somewhere be that in a choir, or growing in a family of musicians to make it to where they are today. You will be surprised at the fact that most very popular secular artists today actually started as gospel singers. Some are still releasing gospel songs together with secular music while others totally left the gospel music world but not their faith. Below is a list of popular secular singers you never thought had dealings with the gospel music world.
- Nicki Minaj
When you think of gospel music, I’m sure Nicki Minaj does not come to mind. However, when she teamed up with gospel singer Tasha Cobbs Leonard for the song “I’m Getting Ready,” she joined her name with the genre. Onika Maraj known as Nicky Minaj, revealed that she would love to work with Cobbs Leonard. The audience reception to Minaj’s crossover was a mixture of acceptance and negative critism. Unmoved by the criticism, Cobbs took it in stride, posting funny memes on her Instagram page sprinkled with hashtags like
2. Katy Perry
Yes you read the name right. Katy Perry’s debut album was in 2001 and not 2008 as many think. In 2001 she released a self-titled album under her birth name of Katy Hudson. Yes, having been born to Pentecostal pastors, Katy Perry was a rather devoted churchgoer, which eventually resulted in her first album of christian rock at the age of 17.
After few years of readjusting her sound and profile to lean more towards the pop genre, Katy Perry released her debut pop album, One Of The Boys, and has been an unstoppable hit machine ever since.
3. Michelle Williams
Many are aware of the fact that Michelle Williams became famous as a member of Destiney’s Child, one of the most successful female trios of all time comprising of Beyonce and Kelly. However, when the group ended in 2006 Williams transitioned to gospel music, a genre she occasional dabbled in when singing alongside artists like Shirley Caesar. Her crossover into gospel has been well received, with songs like “If We Had Your Eyes” and “Say Yes,” which her former bandmates Beyonce and Kelly Rowland were featured on.
4. Kanye West
At this point it’s no more a shocking news that Kanye is in the gospel music genre, few years ago it was inconceivable.
Kanye West’s recent Sunday experiences suggest that he’s undergoing some form of spiritual awakening or revival. However, before he had weekly church-like gatherings, he was very vocal about being a Christian. Indeed, one of his earlier hits was the crossover song “Jesus Walks.” The song is a powerful acknowledgment of West’s reliance on Jesus and him musing what would happen if he mentions Jesus in his music. As one line states, “But if I talk about God my record won’t get played/Huh?/Well let this take away from my spins/Which will probably take away from my ends/Then I hope this take away from my sins.”
5. John Legend
Recently, John Legend became the second-youngest person to achieve EGOT status, winning an an Emmy, Grammy, Oscar and Tony Award in his career. However, his career would undoubtedly never reached the level it has if not for his humble beginnings in the church choir.
First singing with his church choir at the age of four, Legend soon found himself expanding his musician horizons, reaching out to piano a few a years later, and eventually joining various musical groups during college. By the time he was 26, he’s released his debut album, a full two decades after he first started performing his church choir.
6. Justin Timberlake
Who knew! Years before he was a pop superstar, years before he was in NSYNC, and years before he was in The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, Justin Timberlake was beginning his career as a gospel singer as a young child.
Justin is the son of a Baptist church choir director, Timberlake grew up listening to gospel and country, soon beginning to perform his own tunes for fun. By the time he was 11, he’s appeared on Star Search, and had already set himself on the path to stardom, all thanks to the communal wonder of the church choir.
The American singer, song writer, music producer and actress started singing at the age of 5. Beyonce was a member of the choir at St. John’s United Methodist Church as a soloist for two years. Beyonce’s appearance on the comic gospel movie ‘Fighting Temptations’ saw her perform some gospel tracks like ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ and ‘He Still Loves Me’ ft Walter Williams. She and Kelly Rowland also featured in Michelle Williams gospel song “Say Yes” her former Destiny Child partner.
8. Ed Sheeran
Before he became the ladies choice, Sheeran was a member of the choir in his hometown of suffolk, England. He also took a role as the patron of the choral foundation for St Mary-le-Tower in ipswich, promoting singing at the church and the wider coomunity.
In an interview with EADT, he said
It’s my pleasure to be asked to be a patron. As a former chorister myself, I appreciate the benefits which singing brings to young people both physical and emotional.
Singing teaches us a lot of skills and provides many opportunities which will help sustain you throughout life. There is nothing equal to the joy of performing wonderful music with other like minded people’.
Before he met P. Diddy who took him under his wings to stardom in the American music industry, young Usher Raymond IV used to perform solos in their local church at the age of nine. He said he was an active member of the local church choir when he was nine. But presently he’s now more engaged in the secular world.
10. Justin Bieber
This probably may not be a surprise since we all knew from the start that Bieber comes from a Christian home. The Canadian born singer attended a French- Language immersion elementary school in Stratford, the Jeane Sauve Catholic School. At a very young age he learned how to play the piano, drums, guitar and trumpet.
Justin Bieber has never shy away from his christian faith even after his rise to stardom. We know Bieber is still very much connected to Church as he once cancelled one of his concert to spend with his pastor. This brought a little commotion from his audience. He is still an active member of Hillsong Ministries and have performed some live song with them in church on a Sunday. Justin do post quite a number of bible verses on his social media accounts advising his followers to always do the things of Jesus.
11. Snoop Dogg
Next on our list is the famous raper Calvin Cordozar Broadus popularly known as Snoop Dogg. His Father was a Vietnam veteran singer. His father left home just three months after Snoop was born so he was named after his stepfather. He was nicknamed Snoopy by his parents because of his love for the cartoon.
At a very young age, he began singing and playing piano at the Golgotha Trinity Baptist Church. He released his first gospel titled ‘BIBLE OF LOVE’ on march 16, 2018. His album won the ‘Gospel Album of The Year’ awards at the ‘Stellar’ awards. He has performed live with gospel singers like Kirk Franklin and Tye Tribett.
With all of these discoveries it’s no doubt most of the popular artist we love were groomed in church. Did any artist on our list surprise you? Comment your impression.