Israel & New Breed

Israel Houghton

Israel and New Breed's new album, A Deeper Level, is their sixth release on Integrity Gospel. Leading up to the 3-day conference and recording of this album, the group fasted for 40 days, had tremendous breakthrough and even some challenges. GOSPELflava.com spoke with Israel about all of that, and more.

GOSPELflava.com: Many have heard about New Breed's 40-day fast, and how on this new recording God moved in an incredible way. Can you tell us about that?

Israel HoughtonIsrael Houghton: Every live recording that we've done we've had a prior period of fasting and consecration. We really went extreme with this one. We said that we are going way beyond this project and that the things we are investing in are for long term results and for future generations. We just said, "If we're going to tell the Body that it's time for a deeper level, we're going to go there first to check it out."

GOSPELflava.com: "Deeper" is a song that has a dual message in asking God for "His heart" in order to reach out to those who are considered "the least". Tell us about the meaning of this song.

Israel Houghton: Usually when I read the scripture, whatever attacks me, so to speak, I usually express in song. When I got with Aaron [Lindsey], I said, "This thing just keeps exploding in my spirit." The whole "Give us a heart. Give us Your heart" came together when I was describing it. It was from the overflow of what I had been saying and reading. It's just a passion and saying "God, I don't just want church on the weekends. I want to be stirred to some kind of action. I want to know what you want to see me do, and I'm going to go do that." That's really what that song says. It's about being stirred to justice.

GOSPELflava.com: New Breed always seems to tap into something new of going in a direction that you've never gone before. This time, you tap into the Reggaeton on "Long Life" featuring T Bone.

Israel Houghton: T Bone and I were talking backstage at the Grammys a few weeks before the recording and I was telling him about the song. He was telling me about some stuff that he was doing and he starting singing in this Cuban-type voice. I was like, "That's just what this song needs. Just come and do that." He loves Reggaeton and he's certainly well respected in the industry. I've known T Bone for 12 years; we've always talked about doing something together and this was just the time to do it.

GOSPELflava.com: You have Chris Tomlin on the new album and you have written songs that are being sung in churches all around the country. Is the CCM audience finally starting to tap into the sound of the New Breed"?

Israel Houghton: I don't know. You're talking about age-old issues and blockades when it comes to Black Gospel artists tapping into that territory. It's a different time now. I don't want to kick down doors; I just want to walk through the doors that God opens up for me.

Other Stuff on Israel & New Breed

Check out these other features on Israel & New Breed:
I don't know how quickly they're reacting, but I have to say this: KSBJ in Houston has been phenomenal in leading the way. I think that's the favor of God in itself because KSBJ is the largest CCM station in the United States. They have a lot of say in how things are to be. Thankfully Chuck Pryor and Tim McDermott have heard our heart. They have gone beyond our skin tone and stylistic preference and just said that "New Breed exhibits a heart for God and worship." Then we have Chris Tomlin and Darlene Zschech who lend their credibility to what we are doing.

GOSPELflava.com: Songs like "Identity" and "I Know Who I Am" have that message that many people connect with. What is the purpose of doing those types of songs?

Israel Houghton: Well, after writing "Friend of God", it opened my eyes to a greater understanding of why we write songs. When you don't know who you are —and a lot of people I know are in an identity crisis— and you hear a worship leader singing "I Know Who I Am" and "You are my Father, in You I find my identity", there's something 'sneaky' about it. The more you sing it, the more you believe it and it's a phenomenon to see transformation take place during a worship service when many didn't expect to be inspired or to see change take place. The words that they were singing over themselves are what brought about the change. So I've become a lot more intentional in my writing with that in mind.

GOSPELflava.com: What's next for Israel and New Breed?

Israel Houghton: We have a real heart to see the Deeper Level conference experience happen more. So instead of typical traditional touring, you're going to see us doing a lot more two and half day events all over the nation. We'll be focusing on impartation and interaction, and hands-on ministry with worship leaders, musicians and worshipers, period.

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interview by Dwayne Lacy

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