|Mar 13||Holy Cross Church||Capital Heights, MD||7 pm|
|Mar 15-16||The Seed of David P&W Symposium||Glenarden, MD||TBA|
|Mar 28||Kingsway Community Life Centre||Ontario, CAN||TBA|
Over the last decade, Stephen Hurd has distinguished himself as one of the leading voices in urban praise and worship music and his songs “Revelations 19:1,” “Undignified” and “Lead Me To The Rock” are sung at faith gatherings around the globe. As he prepares to release his sixth CD, O That Men Would Worship (Hurd The Word Music), he stands at a unique turning point in his career. He’s exited the record label that brought him to national prominence to launch his own Hurd The Word label and he has a new vision for his burgeoning musical ministry. He’s designed the new CD as a tool to inspire men to take on a greater leadership role in conducting worship as the faithful assemble and for that role to make a residual impact on their personal lives and community.
Why the emphasis on men? “My goal is to get men and especially men of color to realize that worship is not a feminine sport,” he says. “In this season, I feel we should come together and lift up a sound that has the power to change families and strengthen communities and help brothers to get a glimpse of what real worship is. I think when men see other men worship it gives them freedom to worship without feeling emasculated.”
Hurd’s recruited some of the most in demand male worship leaders today to help sound the trumpet about his new initiative. The set features performances from Pastor Jason Nelson, Christian pop artist Anthony Evans and Minister Deonte Gray who is a member of the 7 Sons of Soul vocal group. Hurd also created an all male sextet of singers to back certain songs and a coed group called Extol to back the CD as a whole. The fifteen track CD was recorded live in August 2010 at The First Baptist Church of Glenarden in Upper Marlboro, MD where Hurd is the minister of music. He produced it alongside up-and-coming producers Kenny Shelton and Anthony Brown as a “user friendly” tool for worship leaders to usher their congregations into an atmosphere of worship.
“In the Old Testament it was always men who led the worship,” Hurd offers. “I think wives trust the God in their husband more when they see that their husband really loves God and is not ashamed to worship him. I think sons respect and want to be like their father if they see that he’s a man loving God and regulating things in our house and creating a healthy environment. I think families will be stronger when men understand their place in the worship community and not follow the lead of their wives.”
“It was the easiest thing I’ve ever done,” Hurd says of the recording. “There was no drama. Everybody was excited to be there and came with the attitude of what can I do to make this impact?” The night of the concert, Hurd and the musical team prayed for each other and the people the CD will eventually touch, before hitting the stage. “God has always connected me with who I consider the best of the best,” Hurd says. “One thing I’m sure of is I’m a worship leader. I’m a live singer all day long, so we won’t be doing any in studio CDs because they don’t create the same experience you receive when an audience is responding as you minister. Studio work is like watching paint dry for me.”
Without a major label’s backing, Hurd dug deep into his own pockets to bankroll the project. “I almost decided to do a keyboard mix of strings instead of live strings,” he says. “I almost decided to do keyboard horn tracks but I just couldn’t do it. I just felt like I’d be compromising. Was it expensive? Absolutely, it was expensive but once you go into a particular place you have a responsibility of maintaining a sound that gives people the type of encounter that can’t be compromised. I heard Andrae Crouch’s new single `The Promise’ and the strings on it and that’s when I said, there’s no way in the world that I can go backwards. This isn’t unsaturated fat or margarine. It’s butter.” Steve Ford, who’s collaborated with artists ranging from Phyllis Hyman to Richard Smallwood, made the string arrangements. Phil Lassiter (John P. Kee, Marvin Sapp) gave it its warm horn arrangements. He adds, “When my grandmother cooks food in the oven it tastes different than when I heat something in the microwave. I decided to slow cook this one.”
The Brandywine, MD-bred psalmist has been singing since childhood. His inspirations back then were R&B crooners Jeffrey Osborne and Peabo Bryson. “I love the rich tones of their voices,” he recalls. “I marveled at Larnelle Harris as a technique builder for me. Then, I heard Marvin Winans and was in amazement. I grew up with it all: R&B, gospel and then classical music.” He channeled that love of music as a student at the Duke Ellington School of the Arts and continued to perfect it as music major at Howard University. He then taught music at various high schools in the Maryland area. On the weekends, he served as music director for the late Rev. Donald Vails’ DC Choral Kaleidoscope and also The Capital City Mass Youth Choir. He eventually left teaching and became a music minister with various Washington, D.C. area churches before settling in at First Baptist of Glenarden. Along the way, he also self-produced two well-received independent CDs before he came to the attention of Integrity Music.
Hurd wasn’t actively seeking a record deal but his Howard University classmate James Walker, who went on to become an entertainment attorney, passed one of his CDs on to Al Hobbs, who was chairman of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA). Hobbs then passed it to Jackie Patillo. “Several people told me about Stephen,” recalls Patillo who was A&R Director at Integrity Music at the time. “Al Hobbs was the first. Stephen has the heart and soul of a worshiper and it was a privilege to facilitate his music ministry.” She trekked up to Washington, D.C. to watch him lead Sunday morning praise and worship at First Baptist and was sold. Over the next six years, Hurd released the best-selling CDs A Call To Worship, My Destiny and Times of Refreshing.
In spite of his Integrity success, Hurd quietly pondered launching a label for a while as he watched various peers become successful as independent artists. “I was afraid to do it because I had never done it before,” he says. “I’m a creative mind, not a business mind.” However, Hurd’s developed a business mind and pulled all the pieces to this musical mission together and created a timeless project to stand the test of time and to transform a new generation of men into worshippers. “I never had a B plan,” says Hurd. “My A Plan was to do music or something arts related.” Fortunately, Plan A is working out just fine.
One of the most popular praise and worship artists on the scene is Stephen Hurd and he’s hitting the road to support his new CD, O That Men Would Worship. He’s kicking off his tour at the Faith Center in Ft. Lauderdale, FL and wrapping it up at T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House in Dallas, TX. The new CD is the first on Hurd’s own Hurd The Word recording label and it’s designed as a tool to inspire men to worship God. “My goal is to get men and especially men of color to realize that worship is not a feminine sport,” Hurd says. “In this season, I feel we should come together and lift up a sound that has the power to change families and strengthen communities and help brothers to get a glimpse of what real worship is. I think when men see other men worship it gives them freedom to worship without feeling emasculated.”
Joining Hurd for this manly worship experience are Verity Records artist Jason Nelson, Christian pop artist Anthony Evans and Minister Deonte Gray who is a member of the 7 Sons of Soul vocal group. Hurd created an all male sextet of singers to back certain songs and a coed group called Extol to back the CD as a whole. Aside from co-writing most of the songs, Hurd produced the fifteen track set alongside up-and-coming producers Kenny Shelton and Anthony Brown. Celebrated producer Steve Ford, who’s worked with acts ranging from Phyllis Hyman to Richard Smallwood, created the lush string arrangements while the in-demand Phil Lassiter (John P. Kee, Marvin Sapp) delivered the hearty horn arrangements. “It was the easiest thing I’ve ever done,” Hurd says of the recording. “There was no drama. Everybody was excited to be there and came with the attitude of what can I do to make this impact?”
Although, Hurd began recording albums in the late 1990s, his first national CD release was 2004’s A Call To Worship (Integrity Music) that featured the Caribbean-styled radio smash, “Undignified.” The 2006 My Destiny (Integrity Music) CD featured the hit singles “Great Praise (The War Cry)” and “Destiny” while his 2008 Top 10 Stellar Award winning CD, Times of Refreshing. (Integrity Music), featured the radio single, “Amazing.” Here is his Hurd’s tour itinerary:
3/18 Faith Center, Ft Lauderdale, FL.
3/19 Love & Faith Church, Tallahassee, FL.
3/20 First Baptist Church of Glenarden, Upper Marlboro, MD.
3/20 Online CD Listening Party with Bonnerfide Radio.
3/21 Greater Joy International Church Raleigh-Durham, NC.
3/23 Gospel Superfest, Temple of Deliverance COGIC, Memphis, TN.
3/26 The Key Club, Newark NJ.
3/28 Morning Star Baptist Church, Boston, MA.
3/29 Leadership Alliance, Greater Refuge Church, Plainfield, NJ.
4/05 Abundant Life Family Center, New Brunswick, NJ.
4/08 St. Paul Baptist Church, Richmond, VA.
4/22 Potomac Adventist Bookstore, Silver Spring, MD.
4/25 CFSMM Worship Center, Baltimore, MD.
4/29 Potter's House, Dallas,TX.
Visit www.hurdthewordmusic.com for more information on Hurd.
Bill Carpenter at 202-506-5051 or firstname.lastname@example.org