Gospel artist VaShawn Mitchell hit the District to promote his album "Triumphant," and Niteside caught up with him to get his take on the ever-changing music industry, what inspires him and why his fans love him.
Can you tell me a little bit about your journey in music? Was music always something you new you wanted to do?
I'm originally from Chicago, so I've always been around great music. I started writing music at a very young age, at about 15. I was an assistant music minister at a church and then I was one at another church. Over the years, it became my passion and desire to present gospel music to the world.
A lot of talented artists have trouble with the dissonance between gospel and secular music. Did you ever struggle with it?
My message is more of an inspiration message, so I never struggled with it. I'm very clear on what my calling is.
What other artists inspire you?
Growing up, I was inspired by Kirk Franklin, Richard Smallwood, Thomas Whitfield and Donald Lawerence, just to name a few. In more recent years BeBe Winans, CeCe Winans and Donnie McClurkin have mentored me into the new season of music I'm in now.
What was it like the first time your song had gone #1 on the Billboard charts?
I found out on the phone, so I immediately went to Borders and grabbed my own Billboard magazine. It was the greatest feeling in the world to see something you put your all into, appreciated by not only your peers, but the music industry at large.
What makes your recent album "Triumphant" [four and a half stars on Amazon!] stand out from your other projects?
There's so much going on in the world right now that I wanted to make something that would really inspire and encourage people that it's going to be OK and to stay in [their] faith.
What you think draws your fans to you?
I think my true sincerity in what I do and my love for music.
Who have you dreamed of working with?
I'd definitely love to work with Israel Houghton; he's one of my favorites. Outside of gospel, one of my favorite producers is Timbaland. I'd love to do an inspirational track with him.
What motivates you to keep on doing what you're doing in such a tough industry?
First it's God and my relationship with him. No matter what the industry does, music is still an art and it still has life to it. Nothing will change that.
What do you want your music to be remembered for?
I always want to sing, write and produce timeless music that people a hundred years from now could be encouraged by.