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Growing up in Savannah, Georgia, the man now known as Mali Music grew up in the church. He has had a career as a gospel artist but has now moved into the secular ranks with a deal with RCA Records. This move didn’t sit well with some of those who first encountered him via gospel music, and they took to various social media outlets to say so. Mali says despite the classification change, he’s still the same artist at heart.

“There has been no change, there has just been an elevation because of the platform that gospel music has been considered on. So now it is because of what I’m doing.”

He considers his music to still be inspirational. Sybil Wilkes says that it’s music that even heathens can ride to.

Watch Mali Music’s In-Studio Jam here.

The former Kourtney Jamaal Pollard, 26, got his musical moniker from his middle name Jamal, which became as it often does in Black families, abbreviated to Mali. At 11, Mali became the musical director at his church. At 16, armed with Pro Tools and recording equipment, he crafted an independent album The Coming after a strong response from his MySpace page.

After gaining popularity as a traditional gospel artist, Mali performed during the Music Matter segment at the BET Awards and was approached by Akon, but ultimately signed with Wayne Barrow and Mark Pitts’ Bystorm Entertainment. His RCA release Mali Is…is out June 17th.

“I’m so excited about it. I put my whole heart into it and it’s the evolution from where it was before to where it is now and I don’t think anybody can not relate to it.”

Mali ways he was released by his church, Savannah’s Faith In The Movement, as the minister of music once he was 21. While he was surprised at the backlash he received moving more fully into secular music, he says he’s had support from those who count, including his pastor.

“I get texts and emails from my pastor all the time on how proud he is of the things that are happening. A lot of the response from home has been very good but I think it was the misconception from the body of a whole that threw me for a loop, but time will heal.”

Mali Is…Tracklisting

1. No Fun Alone

2. Ready Aim

3. Beautiful

4. Heavy Love

5. Fight For You

6. Walking Shoes

7. One

8. Make It To Heaven

9. Little Lady

10. Royalty

11. Johnny & Donna

12. I Believe

Pre-order Mali Is….here.

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