James Fortune understands that if you're going to preach redemption in the 21st century, you're going to have to make a production of it, and his albums are a bit like urban gospel hip-hop soul revues all done up in showbiz style on Broadway, complete with Fortune's spoken, sung, and shouted encouragement. Fortune, who was born November 29, 1978, in Richmond, Texas, was raised in the church where his dad was a pastor, and was playing drums by the age of five. He graduated from Kempner High School in Sugar Land, Texas, and then attended Cal State Northridge, and consequently became the choir director at Dimension Church in Houston. As much or more a preacher, choir leader, master of ceremonies, and worship service manager as he is a straight-up singer, Fortune's strength is in understanding how to put gospel and praise songs over to a young 21st century audience, and with his featured choir, FIYA (which stands for Free in Yahweh's Abundance), he freely incorporates hip-hop arrangements and urban beats into his recordings, which include 2004's You Survived, 2007's The Transformation, 2010's Encore, and Identity and Grace Gift (both released in 2012). His first live album, the two-disc Live Through It, appeared early in 2014. In early 2017, Fortune issued the single "I Forgive Me" in anticipation of the release of the full-length Dear Future Me, which appeared later that June. The studio album Dream Again arrived in August 2019 and included guest spots from Todd Galberth, Deborah Carolina, Lisa Knowles Smith, and others. ~ Steve Leggett
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