Typically, I highlight an artist after their project has become available. In this case, I cannot contain my enthusiasm and sincere feelings of pride for the artist known as “BJ”. Bernard “BJ” McKenzie Jr. is a young artist whom I would like to spread the word about before his début solo project hits the streets.
Despite his youth, BJ has made a few good moves on the Gospel music scene. At the age of 18, God allowed him to form his own music ministry, “Bernard Jr. and Anchored“. Many opportunities came for the group and for BJ’s unique musical gifts to be released. They sang background for Barbra Streisand on her tour stop in Chicago, recorded their very first single entitled “Rescue Me” which released in April 2013 and can be purchased on all digital music stores.
Bernard Jr. & Anchored – Rescue Me
Pretty nice, huh? Sorry, that’s all I can give you because, as I said before, it is still available for sale and I urge you to add it to your music library.
Later that year, Bernard Jr. and Anchored were Chicago’s Regional Finalists for Verizon Wireless’ How Sweet the Sound with their rendition of “Ride on King Jesus.”
The group also appeared on Dr. Bobby Jones’ television show on The Impact Network called “Dr. Bobby Jones Presents.” This opened many doors for BJ and has allowed him to build a fan base nationwide. BJ has humbly lent his vocal talents to a range of artists and genres. Singing for the late Albertina Walker sticks out to me especially since he was serving residents of nursing homes at the invitation of the Gospel music pioneer. He even sung background Hip Hop legend, MC Lite as well as background for Neo Soul artist and mentor Darrell Daniels.
McKenzie has also sewn into the efforts of such groups as Joshua’s Troop, Dr. Alfred Wheeler & Blessed Music Ministry, Paul Turner & CMI, and the Gorham United Methodist Church In return, he has been advised, groomed and mentored by the best of the best in the Gospel music industry. I am overwhelmed by the list, but I can definitely see where he gets his maturity and sense of professionalism from. Imagine getting schooled by the likes of Dr. Dorinda Clark-Cole, Jacky Clark-Chisolm, Percy Gray, Tina Campbell & Teddy Campbell, Tonex and Evangelist Lillian Lloyd. Not all of their comments were good, but instead of resentment, BJ took all of their critiques and criticisms to strengthen his gift – and his resolve.
I was fortunate enough to be invited to a recording produced by my good friend, Leonard Maddox Sr. I had no idea what I was getting into. The music was outstanding, the background vocals were solid and the songs were some of the best new songs I’ve heard in a while, penned by some amazing new songwriters. To top it all off, BJ weaved it all together with precision talent excellent placement and pacing his strength like a seasoned singer. I mentally bounced back and forth in deciding which to focus on; the singing, the music, the artist or the song itself. The house was packed to the gills with talent and it was all captured for future enjoyment.
Bernard McKenzie Jr., the son of Bishop and First Lady McKenzie has honed his singing abilities after being trained by the best. That, however, was not the full extent of his training. After diligent study at Christian Leaders Institute, he will be officially ordained as a minister of the Gospel later this year. Seeing his lineage – a set of parents that instilled the Gospel by teaching and example – it comes as no surprise that the Call of God that flows through his bloodline would rest on him.
I will be there with Mr. Maddox to announce the release of BJ’s musical project. I will be there as his mother’s tears and father’s heart both swell with pride – when he receives his charge as a preacher and I will be there, at every level, to enjoy God elevate him. Be on the lookout for his new project (it will be sooner than you think – that’s all I can say right now…shhhh!) and pray for Bernard Jr. as he flourishes with maturity as a preacher, a singer and a man. He’s making all the right moves and will have multiple streams of success. I guarantee it!
While we wait on the official release of Bernard McKenzie Jr.’s music, get a sneak peek with the videos below. He performed his rendition if the Timothy Wright classic “Trouble Don’t Last Always” which will appear on the project. I continue to be impressed with his vocal range and command of the stage with every performance.