Two Gainesville natives are set to make a joyful noise when they return home Sept. 20.
JJ Evans, who got his musical start at Antioch Baptist Church under the direction of his music minister father, has become a Christian soul artist in his own right.
A singer, songwriter, producer and entertainer, Evans was born in Gainesville but certainly wouldn’t stay there, thanks in no small part to his musical ability. After graduating East Hall High School in 2004, he went on to have four independent Christian music albums and be appointed as a background vocalist for R&B superstar Monica.
Evans is scheduled to perform music from his newest album, “FIVE,” with fellow musician and Gainesville native Ingrid Arthur at the Brenau Downtown Center next Saturday.
Arthur, who also got her start in a local church — St. John Baptist Church, to be exact — will also return to Gainesville from her home in Berlin for the “Bringing It Home” show. A world traveler and performer of international renown, the soul and gospel artist has performed next to artists such as Bette Midler, Cissy Houston and Shirley Caesar. In addition to producing and starring on several award-winning albums, Arthur also performed before a presidential speech for President Barack Obama at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
In advance of the “Bringing It Home” show, we spoke with Evans about his musical beginnings, his new album and why soul, gospel and music fans in general should be excited for the show.
Question: When did you realize you wanted to be a musician?
Answer: It’s always something that’s come very, very natural to me. I would say I got into it through writing my own music and putting it out. I’ve always written songs since I was a kid. Music as a whole always came naturally to me because I come from a very musically inclined family. My parents are very musical. My dad is the minister of music at my church, Antioch Baptist Church, and I just come from a fam of musicians.
Q: How do you put your own touch on Christian soul music? Where do you get your inspiration?
A: I would say my music is different from most Christian music, because I get more inspiration from real-life situations. I write when I’m by water or when I’m in a relaxed, cool environment alone. I’m highly inspired by every day situations, my friends, family, peers, things I see on TV and in the media, life-changing situations. I’m a natural motivator, and my mission is just to bring hope to everyone alive.
Q: What of the songs you’ve written is one of your own personal favorites?
A: I would say one of my favorite songs right now would be a single off my latest project (“FIVE”), “For Your Love.” I was in a place spiritually where I felt like I needed to get back to God. I had strayed a little bit in my relationship with him, and in writing this project I rekindled my spirituality and wrote a song about it. The song is talking about how I strayed away but I can’t make it on my own. I know God is the source of everything, so I’m ready for his love again.
Q: Who would you say is the audience you write for, and why?
A: My audience member would be people (who) are my age, I would say 18 to 35. My generation basically. I feel like we need more positivity and encouraging music in my generation. I’ve come to realize at my shows, (the ages of the audience are) widespread. My gifts and my talents are mainstream, and anyone can listen to it. If you’re Christian, Buddhist, Muslim, the core soul value and soul element of my message reaches the masses.
Q: What about the “Bringing It Home” show are you excited the most for?
A: At this time last year Ingrid Arthur did a huge show at St. John Baptist Church and it sold out. It was amazing. She invited me up to sing with her and the experience with her on that song was so magical for me, so we decided to bring her back from Germany to combine on one stage at one time. That was the vision for the show this year. Gainesville is always looking forward to her coming back, and this year that’s what it’s all about: her and her music, me and my new album.