James Fortune & FIYA 2-27-14
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Ministry is embedded in the heart and soul of Houston, Texas native James Fortune. This PK’s (preacher’s kid) desire to serve God evolved out of the intimate relationship he developed in his youth. Poised to release his first-ever live album recording, the performer, songwriter, producer, arranger and nationally-syndicated radio host has full clarity in the use of his gifts. “Ultimately [God] is the focus and this is His ministry that He’s allowed me to be a steward over.” With the two-disc release of his fourth album Live Through It on FIYA World Music/ Entertainment One Music, James Fortune & FIYA deliver a full worship driven experience.
As a 2-time Grammy nominee, 3-time Stellar Award winner and 6-time ASCAP Award winner, James Fortune is a living testimony to God’s goodness and grace. His music has reflected the seasons of his life, with probably none more poignant than creating “I Trust You” from his 2008 sophomore release The Transformation. Crafted during a time when his back was against the wall, James recalls of the longest running #1 gospel single, “[my music] allows me to encourage other people who are going through. I’ve been there and know what it’s like to not be able to provide for your family or have a place to stay. It was a season because you never know how God is going to work through this trial.” As the trials provided the foundation for growth, James reveals, “it’s not just about the success but the sacrifice that allows me to have songs that connect with people right where they are.”
The past two years have been exceptional for James to connect with his fans and family alike. After releasing his third album Identity and a holiday set Grace Gift in 2012, James headlined the six week United As One Tour featuring Kierra Sheard, VaShawn Mitchell and Zacardi Cortez. With family as a top priority, James and his wife Cheryl, who he often collaborates with on songwriting duties, also join forces in managing family responsibilities. With James’ schedule, and four children ages 7 – 16, “we know about the cost and the calling of being in ministry and our family understands it so they sacrifice to ensure everything is covered.” Provided a once in a lifetime opportunity to stay closer to home, James embarked on a new adventure in radio. The James Fortune Show, his nationally-syndicated evening radio show began May 2013, and can be heard weekdays from 6-10 pm CST and online at TheJamesFortuneShow.com. By July, James Fortune Presents: Kingdom Music, Volume 1, a compilation of gospel favorites by gospel greats rounded out 2013 and held listeners as James prepared Live Through It.
Recorded live in Austell, Georgia at Bishop Dale Bronner’s Word of Faith Church, Live Through It features guest appearances from seasoned gospel artists Israel Houghton, Bishop Hezekiah Walker and Da’ T.R.U.T.H. Through prayer and divine inspiration, the process of creating a song for James comes naturally during his production seasons. Hearing melodies and through prayer by “keeping God in the forefront in order to be divinely inspired,” has culminated into a musical movement by the charismatic worship leader and FIYA (Free In Yahweh’s Abundance).
Producers Ayron Lewis and Terence Vaughn worked with James to develop the sound of Live Through It. “I wanted this album to have praise and worship songs that could be sung in church. Something you could catch along with quickly.” The Billboard Top 10 first single, “Live Through It,” produced by
Terence Vaughn, co-written alongside James & Cheryl, bolsters an airy piano open as the lyrics speak to living, growing, getting, breaking and praying through it all because God is invested in our success, even when our faith is being tested. Inspired by Psalm 118:17, in creating the track James recalls, “it reminded me that some things we’re simply going to go through and I’m not necessarily going to go through it, but grow through it, if I just pray.”
The uptempo and groovy “Built For This,” featuring Da’ T.R.U.T.H. and co-written by James, delivers a thankful reminder message. As the lyrics state, “I may bend, but I won’t break.” James touts, “God understood before the foundation of the world what circumstances we would face. He is only allowing it [the circumstance] because He knew we could handle it.” Praising through the twenty-track album, James takes lead on “Do A Work,” as he requests of God to “fix my life and work out some things in me that still need to be corrected.” Where there is humility and repentance in James’ personal repertoire via his songwriting ability, Live Through It encourages while it inspires along the way.
Collaborations are peppered around the Live Through It album. As James explains, “at this level, I only work with people I have a relationship with.” James Fortune the producer has more flexibility when his schedule avails. “It’s a blessing to be successful, because it would be more difficult to make a call without it. I’m just such a fan [of the contributors], sometimes I get so caught up in it and with the anointing on their voices that I forget it’s even my album.” Also active on social media, James engages with his supporters and those he respects with dexterity. He discovered lead vocalist and writer Carvina Jones on SocialCam, and she contributed “Just Smile” to the album.
“Light The Way” featuring premiere worship leader Israel Houghton developed after James worked on his anthem “It’s Not Over.” Written by Israel and performed alongside Cheryl Fortune, the Ayron Lewis produced track builds to a crescendo equally on the vocals and instrumentation. The traditional organs and chords on “Praise Break” featuring Bishop Hezekiah Walker are both nostalgic and contemporary. Noting about the Bishop, James states “he’s the king of praise breaks, and it turned out awesome.” With Isaac Carree, Tasha Cobbs, Zacardi Cortez, and “Sunday Best” alum Alexis Spight rounding out the participants on Live Through It, James Fortune & FIYA were truly blessed in bringing this project to life with a formidable assembly of talent.
“I want people to be able to put on this CD and say, I just want to sing to God.” As James Fortune & FIYA deliver their uplifting message of reassurance and devotion to the Omnipotent God Yahweh, James is on a mission with this album, declaring, “I’ve been seeking to get people to fall in love with being in the presence of God.” Desiring Live Through It to be the vessel upon which his message is conveyed, James continues to strengthen others through his own life. “God is able and His love is unconditional. That’s what our ministry likes to do and what we want to convey.” And as their platform continues to expand, James Fortune & FIYA will continue to devote their ministry unto Him.