Editor’s note: Ahead of the upcoming Chicago Gospel Music Festival on June 2nd and 3rd, Picture This Post interviewed some of the groups to get to know the singers and choirs performing (you can check out our first preview of the 32nd Annual Chicago Gospel Festival). First up, Glenn Johnson and the Voices of Innerpeace, who will be performing at 5:30 June 2nd at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion. This interview has been slightly condensed.
PTP: “When did you start singing Gospel Music? How old were you? How did it come about? What were your first musical experiences? Was your first exposure at Church? If so, which one?”
GJ: “I have always enjoyed music of all types especially Big Band Music. As a very young child, a treat for me was when my parents took me to the park for ice cream followed by listening to the jukebox selection, “So Rare” by The Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra. I attended Mt. Sinai Baptist Church in North Chicago, IL. I sang in the Sunshine Band, Red Circle Choir, and the Youth Choir. I attended Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. IL . Upon graduation, I returned to my home church, where I currently serve as Minister of Music. I am in my 43rd year of service. I am in charge of the Mass Choir, Voices of Inspiration Youth Choir, and Mountain Men Male Chorus.”
PTP: "Where were you born/where did you grow up?"
GJ: “I am a life-long resident of North Chicago in Lake County Illinois. I received a B.S. in Education at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale IL and an M.Ed in Education from National-Louis University in Evanston, IL.”
PTP: "Why is Gospel Music important to you?"
GJ: “I am operating in my God-given gift which centers around Gospel Music. This genre of Christian music creates a beautiful tapestry of traditional, contemporary, and urban experiences.”
PTP: "What have been the major Gospel competitions you have won or other milestones in your career?"
GJ: “I appreciate this question. It compels me to think about accomplishments past, present, and future. We've been apart of the General Mills/WJPC Choir Competition , the McDonald’s Choir Competition Chicago, IL, the Jane Byrne Gospel Contest, Auditions for the Chicago Gospel Festival 2017, the Zeta Radio & Gospel Music Award for CD of the Year-“Greatness,” 7 nominations for Rhythm of Gospel Awards to be decided June 23, 2017 in Jacksonville, Florida, 3 performance slots at Rhythm of Gospel Awards, and Nominated for Kingdom Image Award to be determined October 5-7 in Columbus Ohio
“Career Milestones include:
.Background Choir for Gospel Artist Sandi Patti “Another Time, Another Place Tour” at Arie Crown Theatre in Chicago, IL
.Featured Choir for Gospel Stage Plays “Mama Don’t” with Jennifer Holliday and Pastor Rance Allen at Arie Crown Theatre, and “Mama I Want to Sing” at Arie Crown Theatre in Chicago, IL
.Featured choir for playwright Jennifer Clinton’s “T’morrow Ain’t Promised at James Lumber Center for the Performing Arts, Grayslake, IL
.Background Choir for Albertina Walker, Queen of Gospel
.Debut Cd “Praise Report” produced by Michael Taylor and Rodney Taylor which includes mega-hits “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Anyway You Bless Me.”
.Sophomore Project from Award-Winning Glenn Johnson and The Voices of Innerpeace featuring hit single, “It’s in Jesus” with Nikki Ross
.Featured Artist at Salute to Gospel Music with Donald Lawrence
.Featured Artist at Salute to Gospel Music with Ricky Dillard and New G
.Dr. King Celebration at Lake Forest College
.Effie Rolfe’s New Artist Showcase
.Chicago Bears Christmas Party
.Chicago Gospel Announcers Anniversary"
PTP: “When did you decide to become a professional musician and Gospel Singer? Or is this a sideline for you?”
GJ: “It is combination of being a Minister of Music for my church and a desire to spread the word of God through song. It is a part of my life.”
PTP: “When you are not rehearsing or performing or doing other things related to your music how do you spend time? Any hobbies? Besides Gospel music, what are your main interests?”
GJ: “Since retiring after 33 years as an elementary school educator, I can spend more time in my music ministry. I enjoy reading and volunteering at the Food Pantry at my church.”
PTP: “How have you seen the Gospel Music world changing in recent years? Are any of these changes influencing your musical style?”
GJ: “Since I appreciate many genres of music, I can embrace different styles and art forms. I believe with all the changes in this field, there is still a place for singing hymns, spirituals, and anthems.”
PTP: “Please tell me about each piece in your program- why did you choose this piece? Are there particular challenges in performing this piece? This work or composer you think the audience would be especially interested in? What do you hope the audience will hear in this piece?”
GJ: “This is a very interesting question. Glenn Johnson and The Voices of Innerpeace will share with the audience three songs from our latest cd, “Greatness.” I am the composer of all three selections. The producers and I collaborated in the selection process. The set will open with an upbeat song with a powerful message, “Still Standing.” This song will be masterfully guided by co-producer Mr. Rodney Taylor, an awesome vocalist, keyboardist, and studio engineer.
“The second song, “Blessed Jesus” will feature Navy Chief Tongela Freeman. Chief Freeman fulfilled a year-long deployment overseas and returned to record this worship song. With a voice that spans many octaves, the audience will have this song in mind for a long time.
"The final song in this set is “Rejoice.” Lead by Mrs. Scharema Hannibal, this is the perfect way to finish our time on the incredible stage at Gospel Music Festival 2017. The eye-catching, energetic movements were skillfully choreographed by Mr. Marcus May. The Dream Team Band includes some of Chicago’s finest: Mr. Michael Taylor, Mr. Richard Gibbs, Mr. Derrick Hearne, and Mr. Leonard Maddox, Jr. Mr. Michael Russell coordinated this major effort to ensure a smooth and spirited set.”
PTP: “Many of our readers know little about Gospel Music. What do you think is the most important thing for people to know about Gospel Music and this Festival?”
GJ: “Music is truly universal. It is my desire that everyone will be encouraged by some aspect of the our time on the Gospel Fest stage. It might be in the lyrics of a song, or the tight-knit melodies of the band, or the joy that we would like everyone to feel as a result of the ‘Greatness Experience.’”
PTP: “Any other comments?”
GJ: “It would be a blessing to have our friends purchase our cds, “Praise Report” and “Greatness.” Adding this music to one’s library would benefit their lives greatly. It would also provide a source of revenue which will allow us to make sure there is a another project to be enjoyed.”
Photos courtesy of Glenn Johnson and the Voices of Inner Peace, unless otherwise indicated.