Recently nominated for six Stellar awards and three Grammy awards, gospel superstar Marvin Sapp has blessed the world with his contemporary gospel hits such as “Never Would Have Made It” from the RIAA certified Gold Thirsty album (2007) and his latest gospel hit “My Testimony”, from the album I Win (2012).
“Never Would Have Made It” was not only the number one on the U.S. gospel charts, topped the Urban AC charts, but also became certified platinum in the U.S and was a top selling ringtone and ringback. “My Testimony” also number one on the U.S. Gospel charts. A winner of multiple Stellar awards, BET awards, GMA Dove awards, holder of doctorate degrees and a member of the Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity, Inc., Sapp has yet to win a Grammy. Check out my one-on-one interview with Pastor Sapp!
AFRO: What has life been like since receiving the Giants Award (the highest African-American honor in his hometown) in 1999?
Sapp: Oh My goodness! It’s been a good life, other than a few challenges we have had to face. The losses we have experienced. Through all that, we’ve been pretty good. My kids have been adjusting well, I am just trying to enjoy the ride to the best of my ability.
AFRO: And now you are a single father of three children?
Sapp: Three teenagers, yes, my God! Teenagers are definitely different from when I was a teen, of course. With all of the things that they have at their disposal and then, my children are privileged children, to say a better word. It’s been different and challenging, but I have great kids, and I thank God for them.
AFRO: How do you feel about the hip hop culture as it tries to stay mainstream, as the post-modern option for all solutions, all issues. It’s almost replaced Christianity or the Gospel. Hip hop culture satisfies so many needs for so many people. How do you feel about that, these are your children?
Sapp: Honestly, I think they may try to replicate, but they will never replace the Christian culture. Well, people are embracing it because it’s the thing of the now. But just like all the other cultures from days gone by, from the hippie movement, to whatever other movement that was out there. The hip hop movement is going to transition and become something different too. But the Bible is what it is. It’s the same yesterday, today and forever more. To keep things, I’ve worked hard, tried to. I just try to make sure that the foundation of my children’s lives are solidified to the point where, even if they do veer away from, that they will understand who they are in God which will in turn keep them moving and grounded today and forever more.
AFRO: You call yourself a living epistle, explain.
Sapp: The living epistle is a letter. A letter is an epistle, biblically. Paul wrote letters. What he declared is we are supposed to be living epistles. We are supposed to be walking, talking letters. Because what people fail to realize, is that most won’t read the Bible. And sometimes, only Bible people will (read) into their life. That’s what it’s all about. Making sure and striving very hard to live a life, that when people read it, see it, research it, that they will understand what being a believer is all about.
AFRO: What have you done? How do you feel about the music industry as you’ve evolved?
Sapp: I’m different. My music piece has always been fairly consistent. I’m a traditional gospel singer. When I was with Commissioned, you know, we were urban contemporary. My music is far more traditional now. My last three albums have been more or less the same type of music. Churchy but funky, for worship!
AFRO: You haven’t yet gotten the Grammy.
Sapp: Not yet.
AFRO: Is the song “My Testimony” worthy of a Grammy?
Sapp: Without question, all the songs I write are worthy of Grammys! You expect me to say ‘no’, are you kidding!!! (laughter)
AFRO: Has the Lord told you (that) you are going to get it (a Grammy) this time?
Sapp: Naw, I think, the Grammy is the elusive thing to me. This is my 11th nomination. If it happens, great – if it doesn’t, great. It’s a cliché, but it is an honor to be nominated. An honor to be nominated in 3 different categories in the same year. And it’s only 3 gospel categories, and to be nominated in 3 of the 4 is a great blessing. I’m happy. If I don’t win, I’m not to be disappointed. I got every other award, ya know? To me, awards and what you do, don’t make you who you are.
AFRO: My last question, you recently said on Facebook: “Lord forgive me for wasting my time on significantly insignificant people,” referencing the text ‘casting your pearls before swine’. So, therefore, what were you doing, and who were you casting pearls before? What’s swine are you talking about? What’s going on? That’s what I wanna know! (laughter)
Sapp: People went off that! And significant means, valued as it pertains to being connected to God. But insignificant means individuals who are not necessarily connected to you, to help you fulfill the purpose of God for your life. Some people can be significantly insignificant to your purpose. They are significant based upon their connection to God. Because God wills that everyone be significant individuals, but insignificant to the purpose that God has placed in your life. There are people that God connected to you that are going to suck the life out of you. They’re not in your life to help you. They’re in your life to deplete, to take from you. So I asked God. ‘God forgive me for spending time with people, and doing things and trying to help folks that you initially told me not to work with anyway’. That’s all I’m doing. This is going to bless you: Every relationship in the Bible was seasonal, but marriage. Read your Bible! You’ve got to understand when your season is over.