Kurt Carr Interview

Kurt Carr has experienced tremendous success with his past albums, and for his production of Byron Cageís last album, as well as for new artist Ami Rushes. On his latest project, the phenomenal One Church, he embraces a diversity of ethnic musical styles.

Carr spoke with GOSPELflava.com about reaching out to the masses, the purpose of the album, paying homage to his predecessors and more.

GOSPELflava.com: What would you say was the purpose behind One Church?

Kurt Carr: Itís not so much the purpose of this album as it is the purpose of my ministry. The purpose of my ministry is to bring unity to the body of Christ. Itís also to create more diversity and unification among the different races and cultures. Itís more than just this album. I Kurt Carrfinally kind of realized what God had specifically in mind for me to do. "In the Sanctuary" opened so many doors for me with regards to multicultural acceptance. It was recorded in nine different languages.

In my prayer time, while I was seeking God about the new CD, he compelled me to reach those people that he has given their ear to me. Thatís where the concept of the album came from. It has a profound message that needs to be conveyed. Jesus prayed to the Father that we would be one, as He and the Father are one. My friend Tommy Tenney said that itís an unanswered prayer that Jesus prayed. Itís true because there is still so much division in the body of Christ. We have to do something about it, and I believe that music is the key that is going to draw us all together.

GOSPELflava.com: You obviously had more of a multicultural choir on this album, and you also included a choir from Japan. Tell us about that.

Kurt Carr: We had about twenty people from Japan there. Weíve been there three times. One time I went to do a workshop in Japan, and there were about 800 people in the choir. I couldnít believe it. They would not let me be seen. They said, "No one can see you." I asked, "What do you mean?" When I came out to do a sound check, I was sitting in the back of the theatre, and they were covering me up so no one could see me. About 200 people came on stage. I said, "Wow thatís a lot of people." She said, "Thereís 600 more waiting to come on." I couldnít believe it.

When I walked out on stage, they were acting like I was Michael Jackson. Girls were fainting. It was crazy. God showed me, "Iím not doing this to edify you. Iím doing this that you can edify me." A lot of those people sing the music, but theyíre not Christians. God used us that night. The anointing fell. People were speaking in tongues, and didnít realize what they were doing. They donít even understand what I am saying, but itís the music —the substance and the heart of the music —thatís going to change them and lead them to conversion.

One Church
CD "God, Great God" is a high energy single that is scripted by Carr. Universal in its lyrics and musical appeal, it is signature Kurt Carr concert material. With modulations to the sky and using thick but simple vocals... Full Review

I was real nervous about the album. Of course I have my traditional stuff on there. Some of the songs on the album are a little 'white', but I knew that I had to do it. Andrae Crouch prophesied to me ten years ago that I would reach nations. He said, "I believe that you have something that is not too Ďblackí, and is going to reach the world; not just our own people."

I thank God for it. So far, itís been well received. Again, the international calls are coming more and more. Iím ready to take it to the world.

GOSPELflava.com: You have always been an artist who has given props to those who paved the way for you. On this album, you did it for James Cleveland and Walter Hawkins. Explain why you deem this to be so important.

Kurt Carr: There was too much material on the CD, and the James Cleveland medley is going to be released as a single. I did a medley of his songs, and did a tribute to him. I featured his daughter and all of the Cleveland singers that I knew of and different people that were influential in his ministry. Albertina Walker was there as well.

I feel that itís crucial to do that. To me, thatís what is wrong with our people. We donít give enough respect and homage to our ancestors. Take the Jews for instance. I grew up in Connecticut, and I went to a private school there. It was mostly —I would say 98% —Jewish. I am real familiar with the Jewish culture, and how their whole lives are about their ancestors, their families, their background. Every week in school, we would hear something about the Holocaust. Unfortunately, our people are not as set on that. We talk about it, but whatever. We should never forget people like Albertina Walker, Clara Ward, Thomas Dorsey and those people.

I had an opportunity to meet a lot of these people. I used to hear stories about how Albertina, James Cleveland and The Caravans used to ride in the car from Chicago to LA. This was one car with luggage and everything. They had to stay at peopleís houses. They couldnít stay at hotels. They couldnít eat at restaurants. They would make $200 and split it between 5 and 6 people. She said "We did it for the love of what we were doing." That really touched my heart. Like whoa! I love what I do. I love God, but do I love Him enough that I would get in the car and drive from Chicago to LA for $200? Then you canít stay in a hotel and canít eat in a restaurant. How can you forget that contribution especially when our artists today have million-dollar contracts and drive Mercedes? The least that we can do is to pay respect and homage to those people.

Kurt CarrNow Walter Hawkins isnít that old, but he was probably one of the most innovative. You couldnít beat what he did. I have to pay homage to him because his music drew me to Christ.

GOSPELflava.com: What song means the most to you on this album?

Kurt Carr: I always pick the song that everyone else might not get. There is the song called "One Word". It is possibly one of the most profound songs that God has ever given to me. It ushers people into an atmosphere to receive a word from God. When you think about it, there arenít many songs that do that. There are songs that usher you into worship. There are songs that usher you into a spirit of praise. But how many songs truly focus your heart and mind on receiving a word from God? I believe that this is one of the most substantive songs that I have ever written.

I achieved the success. I got the money. Iíve received the accolades. Iíve been given the props and all of that. But whatís important to me is that word from God and direction from Him.

GOSPELflava.com: West Angeles Church of God in Christ played a significant role in bringing praise in worship to the Black church. Why did you record the album there again?

Kurt Carr: Thatís my church. Bishop Blake is my spiritual father. Thatís the birthplace for praise and worship in the black church. Patrick Henderson is the gentleman that produced their first album, Saints in Praise (see album review of Best of Saints in Praise). It kind of started at Oral Roberts University. Lots of people were doing praise and worship there. Patrick had the idea to take the 'white' songs —the Christian songs —and put a little black flavor to it. That was it. That was the birthplace of it.

It was important to record there because songs like "Every Mountain", "Almost Let Go" and "In the Sanctuary" were birthed there. Most of those songs were written right in the church sanctuary. I would go there and practice. I would seek the Lord. Thatís the place where Kurt Carr became a worshiper. I love to go home. I like to feel comfortable. I love to be around people that love me, and that are coming to receive from God. Thatís just what happened that night.

GOSPELflava.com: You have a tremendous gift for arranging vocals. How do you go about arranging vocals for the Kurt Carr singers and the Choir of Life?

Kurt CarrKurt Carr: Thatís kind of my thing. I study music. I donít listen to a lot of secular music because I think that a lot of it can be kind of negative. The spirit of it is not positive. Iím not trying to be critical, but a lot of todayís music is about sex and about derogatory things about women. Real music inspires me. All types of music.

My mentors, Andrae Crouch and Walter Hawkins, talk about vocals! They just had their totally own style. You can listen and see how well put together it is. I just started a workshop tour, and after fifteen years, I finally found a sound. A Kurt Carr sound. It just took some time and seeking God. I donít want to be like anyone else. I just want to be me. Thatís what I am doing.

GOSPELflava.com: What are some new ventures that you are getting into or looking to get into?

Kurt Carr: We are praying about having our own label. We are looking at some more projects. I think I have some of the finest singers in the world. There will be a time when they will do their own thing. We could be like Destinyís Child and do our own thing and still come back together. Thatís the heart and the spirit of the group right now. There is a greater work for all of us to do. So I am excited about that.

I am working with Karen Clark on half of her CD. I am so honored that since the success of the Byron Cage project, I am getting so many calls as a producer. I am becoming one of the first-called producers. I am just humbled by it. Just about every single Gospel artist today is calling for a Kurt Carr song, and it trips me out. Iím like "You want me?"

The One Church album has already garnered tremendous success. Kurt Carr is steadily putting out great songs for the whole body of Christ. Keep it coming Kurt! The world needs you.

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interview by Dwayne Lacy

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