Who's In Da Howse??
Trying to keep track of the comings and goings of Gospel record labels can prove daunting, even for industry insiders. Mergers, closings, openings, new Gospel divisions within established labels...all of these are becoming regular events. However, the emergence of a new house in the Gospel community is generating more than the usual buzz. The label is LA-based Church Howse Music, headed by established Gospel veteran, Neily Dickerson.
The anticipation surrounding the advent of the label is somewhat curious, not because of the newness, but because of the familiar names that are linked to the label. As a visionary, Dickerson, has laid the foundation for the Howse in her years of solid work in the music industry and is ready to present a prize crew of familiar artists to launch her label. In like manner, her artists have been establishing their own base for support as they have shared their ministries prior to joining together to become the Church Howse Music roster.
Artists Ted & Sheri, Melonie Daniels and Nolan Williams and the Psalmists each already garner the respect of those in the industry, and are now set to take center stage at the new label, offering debut projects in the first half of 2000.
Flagship duet Ted & Sheri will bring their unique sound to the forefront in their forthcoming release in the first quarter of 2000. Formerly members of the now-disassembled Voices of Binghamton, they look forward to continuing their ministry together as a part of Church Howse. Addressing comparisons that have been made to revered Gospel duet Bebe and Cece Winans, Ted says he feels both humbled and pressured, but says, “What God has given us is a completely different approach to ministry. It’s a more youthful focus. Our focus is mainly to those persons who have been in church all their lives but have not been impacted thereby, and to those who have tried church, but were turned off and won’t go back. Church is not meeting them at the point of their need. Those are the people we want to target.”
While filling the void of duets that exists in Gospel today is a great opportunity, Sheri says, “It’s not at the top or bottom of our priority list. Our heart is to first bring into existence what God has called us to do. It’s fine that He’s so chosen us to fill the gap. And I appreciate Him and am honored by that, but it’s not a big issue for us whether or not we will be the next Bebe and Cece. It’s an honor to even be compared to such a dynamic duo, but ministry is at our heart first.”
Of Dickerson and Church Howse, “ I know that God has anointed [her] to do what she does. The ND company / Church Howse is not another company that’s [just] out for profit. She really takes ministry to heart and she invests in us because she believes in what we are trying to do. She really has an insight on where God is flowing in the next millennium. She really believes in our ministry and I feel great about it because I feel like we can grow together.”
Nolan Williams has assembled a group of worship leaders and psalmists and has written most of the material on his project. Nearly complete, Williams’ project is half live and half studio, with a contemporary/jazz feel. Of the extraordinary group of singers he has assembled Williams says, “Everyone who’s a part of this ministry are in their own right worship leaders and ministers. Since forming the group several have stepped up to formally acknowledge their calling into the ministry. The idea is that they really could be doing their own thing and be very successful at it.” However, while working together everyone keeps perspective and stays on one accord in keeping God first. “There is a great lesson in humility when I can come to the table with you, and know that my gifts are substantive, but I can be humble enough to sometimes take a lesser role and that God will [then] raise [all of us] up. It’s wonderful how they work together. And the power of that many psalmists in one place, at one time, on one accord - it’s awesome!”
Williams met Dickerson some years ago while she was working at another label. He sent a demo to her, of a project he was working on (with a different group), and while no business deal was consummated, a seed was planted in a friendship that would become their working relationship today. “Meeting Neily was definitely part of my destiny. Looking at everything from a spiritual perspective, you see that it’s more than a record contract, or putting out a CD. God has a purpose for our lives. It’s really about seeking God for the plans that he has for you and then everything else is added.” Looking at the order of events leading to now he says, “It’s really just reality catching up with the plan of God.”
Melonie Daniels, who so many have been hoping would step out front, will finally take that place with her debut solo release. She’s been singing professionally for ten years, which includes eight years as background singer and choir director for Mariah Carey. “Back when I accepted the job with Mariah, I was a church girl who didn’t know anything about the record business. I was petrified! I prayed a prayer, ‘God, if I’m going to walk in this side of the business, I need You to shine through everything I do. Everything!’ And he’s been faithful to that word since I prayed it. I can [now] say God trusted me to be in that situation because He knew I wouldn’t go off the deep end.”
In contrast to the humbleness that she exudes, her voice can be big and wonderfully boisterous. And unlike many with lesser voices and skills, Daniels has shied away from stepping out on her own, though it certainly wasn’t for a lack of pushing and prodding by anxious ones in the industry. Thankfully for us all, she has found a comfort zone in Church Howse and is ready to kick of the upcoming new year at the new label.
Of the direction of the project she says, “Because of the training I’ve had throughout my musical life, I can’t put my finger on it. Of course you have the traditional and the classical. I have formal jazz training. The best way I can describe it is that I’m going to be diverse without being scattered musically!” (Those who are in any degree familiar with Daniels would agree that it would be a pleasure even for her to scatter!)
“Coming [to Church Howse] at this time is a great opportunity because we can all grow together. Given the background of everybody on the label, it’s just a fresh chance to do something very exciting!”
Each of the members on the Church Howse roster separately notes that they believe they were predestined to be a part of the label. With producers such as Donald Lawrence and Tonéx slated to do their work with the roster, the future sounds of Church Howse are already intriguing. With Dickerson at the helm, with her special gift for people in ministry, there is no doubt that together they are destined to ‘rock the Howse’ in the new millennium and beyond.
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