Hezekiah Walker looks to bring gospel music center to HBCU

LOS ANGELES – Hezekiah Walker turned a scholar at Virginia Union University two yrs back, but the Grammy-profitable gospel singer took his collegiate experience to the following amount by opening a gospel tunes heart on the campus.

He will guide the Hezekiah Walker Center of Gospel Songs at Virginia Union College, in Richmond, Virginia. It’s staying dubbed as the initial educational centre centered on gospel tunes at an traditionally Black university or university the place pupils can find out the cultural and business enterprise facets of the style and market.

Walker said the center — which opens in Spring 2022 — would provide a incredible outlet to “house our tunes.”

“I believed it was a excellent possibility to invite people to arrive to Virginia Union for gospel tunes and they can learn about our heritage,” explained Walker, a two-time Grammy winner. He wants to make Virginia Union a prime vacation spot for gospel audio in hopes of breathing enthusiasm into a youthful generation about the genre’s society.

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With enable from the school’s administration, Walker will curate the center’s curriculum geared toward aspiring songwriters, instrumentalists, vocalists, producers, administrators and publicists in just the gospel realm. He mentioned the college will instruct learners principally about gospel music compared with any other university.

Classes will be offered to all Virginia Union learners. Certification programs associated to function in the market will also be available to the normal general public.

“When we deliver our youngsters to their colleges, they type of learn their music,” reported the singer, who pastors a church in New York. “They discover their way of accomplishing gospel. When all those youngsters come back to our church buildings and come again to our tradition, they go ‘We never want that.’ We’re getting rid of our young ones by the working day.”

Two several years ago, Walker decided to return back to university. He put in some time looking into universities who are acknowledged for their theological seminary schools and observed that Virginia Union, a personal Black college, had a person of the very best in the nation.

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Following registering, Walker was accepted into Virginia Union’s Samuel Dewitt Proctor College of Theology, where by he’s at this time a second-year university student. But when the renowned gospel singer in the beginning stepped on campus, he was largely incognito sporting his hat backward with sun shades.

But Walker’s minute of obscurity lasted for a few months right up until he satisfied with Virginia Union president Hakim J. Lucas. The gospel singer mentioned Lucas was unaware he was a scholar until a school member knowledgeable him.

At first, the dialogue was about Walker doing in a concert. But the two came up with the grand plan to produce a gospel music college and transform one of the buildings on campus into the heart, which will don Walker’s total identify.

“Gospel is a part of the legacy and tale of the journey of Black spirituality, Black social justice and Black religion,” Lucas reported. “If we’re going to be really serious as an institution, committing ourselves to the empowerment of Black men and women, you have to create a way to study all of these establishments.”

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Lucas reported the university felt compelled to embrace gospel because “we recognized the educational roots of the songs.”

“You have other universities teaching individuals that gospel music is not Christian songs and that it edifies a little something else,” Lucas said. “We’re listed here to stand up and say ‘No, gospel music is not only a part of the Black practical experience, it is critical for the Black and African American spiritual working experience.’ But it is also a element of our ongoing battle for social justice.”

Walker is identified for gospel songs these kinds of as “Souled Out,” ”Every Praise” and the Grammy-nominated “Far better.”

He believes his center can support up-and-comers who are ready to get pride in uplifting the genre, which he thinks is disconnected from other spots of the new music field. He stated discovering the historical past and milestones of the style — like the initial time a gospel artist received a Grammy or received a major royalty check out — are important to enable college students value these who paved the way for them.

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“We need to instruct our people today so they can fully grasp it,” he mentioned. “Then they can recognize where by we are right now and in which we’re likely as we appear back to the place we come from.”

While Walker preps for the gospel center’s opening and carries on as a college student, he’s also performing on a new album, which he expects to launch in October. He labored with Teddy Riley to develop a tune with a New Jack Swing vibe meshed with inspirational messages.

“I’m prepared to minister to yet another group of men and women,” he explained. “I’m all set to sing to yet another team. I think the church has been saturated with all distinct varieties of artists, which I’m grateful for. I am a aspect of it. But I am prepared for a new team of persons that I provide some inspiration.”

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