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Music World Gospel celebrates its 10th Anniversary this year. An imprint of Music World Music, it was founded in 2002 by¬†Mathew Knowles, President and CEO of Music World Entertainment, and is currently the largest owned and operated African American Gospel label in the world. Music World Gospel’s 10th anniversary celebration coincides with the 20th Anniversary celebration of Music World Entertainment.
In 2001, as the ladies of Destiny’s Child transitioned into their solo careers, one of¬†Michelle Williams’ dreams was to record gospel and inspirational music. Knowles decided to establish a faith-based label for Williams’ recordings, as well as other projects in that genre, and the next year, established the Spirit Rising Music label, now known as Music World Gospel.
In March of that year, Williams released her first gospel recording, the GRAMMY-winning¬†Hearts to Yours, which debuted at #1 on¬†Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart.¬†Hearts to Yours¬†eventually became 2002′s biggest selling album of that genre in the U.S., selling over 210,000 copies. Williams also landed in¬†Billboard¬†magazine’s year-end issue as the #5 Top Gospel Albums Artist, and the CD,¬†Hearts to Yours, was #6 on the Top Gospel Albums chart. Williams’ follow-up album,¬†Do You Know, was released in 2004 and debuted at #2 on¬†Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart.
Although Knowles’ primary focus was on the pop and R&B genres, he periodically released key projects under the faith-based imprint, including the soundtrack from¬†Fighting Temptations, which spent four weeks at #1 on the¬†Billboard¬†Top Gospel Albums chart. Knowles signed Pastor¬†Rudy Rasmus¬†to the label in 2005 as Music World Gospel Ambassador.
Affectionately known as Pastor Rudy, he co-pastors St. John’s Church, located in downtown¬†Houston, with his wife Juanita.¬†St. John’s¬†is one of the most culturally diverse congregations in the country, where every week people of every social and economic background share the same pew. Since 1992, the church’s membership has grown from nine to more than 12,000 people, including 4,000 homeless or formerly homeless individuals.
On¬†October 17, 2010,¬†Pastor Rudy’s Love Revolution¬†premiered on SIRIUS XM Radio’s Praise Channel.¬† The one-hour weekly radio show features music selected by Pastor Rudy, uplifting conversation with the Pastor and his special guests, and a regular segment, “Ask Pastor Rudy,” in which Pastor Rudy answers questions from his listeners. The show airs live each Sunday at¬†12:00 p.m. EST¬†(SIRIUS channel 64 and XM channel 64) and re-airs every Wednesday at¬†6:00 p.m. EST.
In fall 2007, Trin-i-tee 5:7 (then a trio) signed with Spirit Rising Music, which released the group’s critically-acclaimed fourth album,¬†T57, which debuted at #2 on the¬†Billboard¬†Top Gospel Albums chart. “Listen,”the hit single from the project, graced¬†Billboard’s Hot 100 R&B Airplay¬†chart and was one of the biggest gospel radio hits of 2007-2008.
The album¬†went on to win two prestigious Gospel Music Association’s Dove Awards, and a GRAMMY¬†nomination, which resulted in Trin-i-tee 5:7 being spotlighted, alongsideAretha Franklin, BeBe Winans,¬†Israel & New Breed and the Clark Sisters, on the 50th Annual GRAMMY Awards broadcast.
In 2009, Knowles’ interest and focus shifted primarily to Music World Gospel, and he released the inaugural CD of gospel newcomer¬†Brian Courtney Wilson, who was touted as one of gospel music’s contemporary break-through artists of 2010, and was one of Music World Gospel’s great success stories of that year.
The three-time Gospel Music Association Dove Award nominee’s CD,¬†Just Love,¬†entered at #2 on the¬†Billboard¬†Top Gospel Albums chart and #6 on¬†Billboard’s Top Christian Albums chart. The CD remained at #1 on Christian Music Trade Association’s Inspirational Albums chart for 52 weeks. Since its release in¬†June 2009, the CD has held steady in the Top 20 on the¬†Billboard¬†Top Gospel Albums chart for over 90 weeks‚ÄĒlonger than any other CD title on¬†Billboard’s Top 50 that year .
Music World Gospel relaunched,¬†Just Love¬†Deluxe Edition, and the CD re-entered on¬†Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart at #3. ¬†¬†Just Love¬†made music chart history. Wilson was the only artist to have four active singles ["All I Need,"¬† "Already Here," "Just Love" and "Awesome God"] on¬†Billboard’s Gospel charts, and all have peaked in the Top 5, 10 and 15 positions [2009/2010].
His first single release, “All I Need,” was the longest-running single at that time, charting 92 weeks on¬†Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart. In¬†September 2010, Wilson received the Gospel Music Heritage Month Rising Artist Award. In early 2011, he received a nomination for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Gospel Album of the Year (Traditional and Contemporary).
In¬†Billboard¬†magazine’s 2010 year-end issue, Music World Gospel held Top 5 and Top 10 positions on the gospel charts, and the label ranked on nine of the 11 charts.¬† Music World Gospel was #4 on the Hot Gospel Songs Imprint chart, ranked #6 as the Hot Gospel Songs Label and was #9 on the Top Gospel Albums Labels chart.
In 2010, Knowles signed several artists, including¬†Juanita Bynum, and¬†Micah Stampley. In 2011, Music World Gospel signed other key talent such as¬†Vanessa Bell Armstrong, and entered into an exclusive recording agreement with BET Networks and its premiere brand¬†Sunday Best, the award-winning weekly gospel music competition projects.
Under the agreement, the label signed Season 3 and 4 winners Le’Andria Johnson¬†and¬†Amber Bullock¬†along with Season 3 and 4 runner-up contestants¬†Andrea Helms, and Elder Goldwire. The agreement also includes future season winners and contestants.¬†Through a partnership with BET, Music World Gospel has released two highly-anticipated debut projects: Johnson’s¬†The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson¬†and Bullock’s¬†Thank You.
The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson¬†debuted at #1 on multiple music charts, including both the¬†Billboard¬†Top Gospel Albums and the Top Christian/Gospel Albums charts. The CD also debuted at #1 on the Christian Music Trade Association’s Current Gospel Overall chart. It spent nine weeks at #1 on¬†Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart, and remains in the Top 5 for over 15 weeks.
Le’Andria also received her first GRAMMY nomination for Best Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music performance for her debut single, “Jesus.”¬†Amber Bullock’sThank You¬†also debuted at #1 on¬†Billboard’s Top Gospel Album chart.
In addition to the¬†Sunday Best¬†brand releases, Music World Gospel released GRAMMY nominated, Stellar Award and Gospel Music Associations’ Dove Award winners Trin-i-tee 5:7′s first project as a duo,Angel & Chanelle, which debuted at #1 on both¬†Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart and the Top Christian/Gospel Albums chart.
The CD also entered at #2 on¬†Billboard’s Top R&B/Hip Hop Albums
chart, #5 on the Independent chart and #19 on the¬†Billboard¬†200. Trin-i-tee 5:7 received their second GRAMMY nomination for Best Gospel Album for¬†Angel & Chanelle,¬†which is the group’s 7th recording to date.
Music World Gospel’s other notable compilation projects include¬†ESSENCE Gospel, Ultimate Gospel, the Most Powerful Voices, The Gospel Superfest, Spirit Rising¬†and¬†The Pastor¬†Rudy Experience.
In 2011, Music World Gospel experienced a revenue increase of more than 115 percent over 2010, and the label moved to the Top 5 on¬†Billboard’s magazine year-end Gospel Albums Labels chart, from #9 in 2010. This year’s GRAMMY nominees, Trin-i-tee 5:7 and Le’Andria Johnson, also led the way on¬†Billboard’s year-end charts.
Their current CD projects,¬†The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson¬†and¬†Angel & Chanelle,landed at #7 and #13 respectively on the Gospel Albums chart. Le’Andria and Trin-i-tee 5:7 were listed at #8 and #10 respectively on the Gospel Albums Artists chart. Trin-i-tee 5:7′s hit single, “Over and Over” came in at #9 on the Gospel Songs chart, and the song producer,¬† PJ Morton landed at #8 on the Gospel¬† Songs Producers chart.
Looking ahead, Music World Gospel is expanding the label’s release schedule in 2012 to include over 45 new releases, and will be making other faith-based acquisitions, which will be announced in the coming months.