AYSK: Chi-Town Edition
Let’s celebrate a few more artists from the Hometown. This time, in the worship genre. Chicago is a big city with a multiplicity of styles within. We dare not relegate the Gospel sound to traditional music. The power and passion of God’s people can be heard and felt through the music of these amazing artists that we feature this week in our special mini-series about our home-grown heroes.
This week’s featured artist has a style and unique gifting that cannot be described. He seems to have a limitless vocabulary that disseminates solid ideas about God in almost unimaginable ways. Ironically, similar to his song, “Euroclydon“, Just Steve is a force to be reckoned with. Euroclydon was the name of the deadly storm Paul faced at sea.
Equally as challenging is trying not to show excitement while the wave of expressive words and melodies wash over you.
This Chicago (south side) native can transform from emcee to musician to lyricist and morph into any one at a moments notice. Spoken word is Steve’s flavor and he dishes out an amazing lyrical feast with every track. If you are one who believes that the Gospel message can take on many forms and are a fan of creativity, Just Steve is your kind of artist.
The humble and unassuming artist’s goal is probably best summed up by this statement from his own website:
“A urban servant trying to serve my purpose
writing urgent verses just to erk the serpent.”
Let me be one to attest to his devotion to just that mission. He gives God glory and tells of His faithfulness with every lyric and shines the light of God in between every performance. Here is an Artist You Should Know. Just enthusiastic, just dedicated, just true blue, Just Steve.
“Precipitation” by Just Steve
If you are looking for a high-energy, passionate, sold out set of representatives for Christ, you have come to the right place. I have had the pleasure of introducing them twice and witnessing their awesome ministry countless times and they never disappoint. After The Due Order (ATDO) is a group of young Christians who have no problem head-bangin’, jumping, running, dancing and singing to glorify God.
After a long period of touring and engagements, I was pleased to see that their project “After The Due Order, Vol. 1” was completed. Full of edgy, lively songs like “Appointed” and “Bravo” (a personal fave!) as well as worshipful serenades such as “Song Of Salvation” and “I Will Remember“. The entire project is filled with the ebb and flow of true worship. Anyone who loves to openly state their love for God will be a fan of this well-produced project.
Some might be taken aback by their presentation at first, but when they see the sold-out passion for Christ and learn that they are covered by a Pastor who is dedicated to God’s Word and His people, they most always come around. By the time ATDO finishes performing at your youth event of musical service, you will lift your hands cheering and maybe even have to catch your breath — so it is with the new project. Be sure to give a listen to the boldness that is After The Due Order, another Artist You Should Know.
“Bravo” by After The Due Order (ATDO)
Anyone in Chicago that has not heard of Reggie Royal & Judah has obviously just not been paying much attention. The amazing group came to prominence in the early part of the millennium and were a staple in Chicago music until their 2007 hiatus from the limelight. Royal began leading an effective and progressive ministry as Senior Pastor of Lifeline Church – Chicago which became a beacon and refuge for people all over Chicago’s Austin and Oak Park areas. He never lost his passion for music, instead, he just accepted another facet of ministry that God had for him.
In 2014, he was released to return to the ranks of recording artist and the project “Goodness” was born. Filled with songs like “Shine“and “Higha” which get you out of your seat as well as reverent, heart-warming tunes like “Power Belongs To God” and “Draw Me“, it makes for a well-balanced and fulfilling worship experience that is captured for your enjoyment. To be clear, the project is a few years old. However, the head-rocking title cut proves that it has lost none of its flavor through time.
If anything, it has remained as fresh and impressive as anything that is being released currently.
An Artist You Should Know is one who is producing relevant, passionate and awesome music for the masses. Not only is Pastor Reggie Royal doing that with the Word of God, but Reggie Royal & Judah are doing it through music.
“Goodness” by Reggie Royal & Judah
I don’t think I can talk about Pastor Reggie Royal & Judah and not mention Ryan Booker. After all, I had heard so much about Ryan Booker and was granted an invitation to an event where he was going to perform that just happened to be at Pastor Royal’s church. I had many tell me about Ryan’s emphatic worship style and limitless energy, but to hear about him is one thing, to experience him is quite another altogether. I have been a supporter of him ever since.
The Kingdom needs more of Ryan Booker and thankfully, they can have more with his 2014 project “We The People” on which he reveals his inner-worshiper to the hilt. The progressive music accompanied by clear and stirring vocals all work in hand to bring every lyric to life. Special attention should be paid to “Live Today“, “Wait And Believe” and “Libre Para Adorar“, which Booker sings in another language — a tall feat for any artist, Booker does it fluently.
Booker’s ability to adapt several styles of music in one record and do it all effectively is uncanny. This record shows that it can be done and done well. The Kingdom wasn’t left with just that instance of Ryan Booker. His newest offering is a single called “Miracle Worker” a rhythmic, guitar-heavy rocker/60’S Pop-style tune which is sure to get your head bobbing while affirming the miraculous power of the Savior. The musician, songwriter, producer, husband and father is a native son, a gift to the Kingdom and definitely an Artist You Should Know.
“Miracle Worker” by Ryan Booker
I am just as pleased with the new single that he’s released called “Waiting On You“ albeit for different reasons. The first single had great production and burgeoning talent.
On this song, he does far more exhorting and driving than outright singing. Even in that, I can hear that he has certainly matured vocally and his placement is growing as rapidly as his talent. I can also tell he isn’t sitting back on his laurels, but honing his craft. This song, like a few others I’ve heard from recent independent artists, will give well-known titans in the genre a run for their money. It’s modernistic in its approach and Marty’s support does a great job carrying the message. I’ve said of this talented young man, previously:
While Marty is still young, the inherent talent shines through…. I can assure you there will be more from him as time passes. He just seems to have too much in him to be a one-hit-wonder.
“Waiting On You” by Marty B
I once emcee’d a service for Psalmist Raine where dear friend, Jon Jones and AOH were special guests. This group brought the service to a complete halt and had every person in the house lifting their hands in worship and their voice in agreement to the majesty of God . I also remember that I don’t remember anything else about that event afterward.
That is what Atmosphere Of Heaven (AOH) does, they allow God to be praised — even in the midst of their set. No hesitation, no fear, no pomp-and-circumstance, just adoration. The long-awaited self-titled 2016 sophomore release, “Atmosphere Of Heaven, Vol. 2 (Live)“, was everything we expected from the group yet so much more. “We Have The Victory” and its reprise are my favorite tracks with “Yes Of Heaven” and its reprise being a close second. Please also listen to “Belong To You“.
Worship leaders and worshipers will love this project — especially if they are fans of eclectic, contemporary worship. The same intensity I saw that night is replicated on this project. Their past work, “Atmosphere Of Heaven, Vol. 1” was the consummate reflection of this artist’s hard work and dedication to their call. They definitely create an Atmosphere Of Heaven, right here on Earth and are an Artist You Should Know.
“We Have The Victory (reprise)” by Atmosphere of Heaven (AOH)
A few more artists from Chicago are coming to these pages. As you can see, Chicago is a melting pot of cultures, styles and genres which can be enjoyed in the myriad number of artists that we have. If you know of any artist – from Chi-town or anywhere else – that is making a positive impact and producing good music, let us know about them via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.