march 2012

Brian Courtney Wilson: ‘…no matter the circumstance, I had to keep believing. I had to keep my head up, keep going and trust that God has a plan in the middle of it.'

Brian Courtney Wilson Keeps Pressing On

New album, So Proud, helps him get through the storm

By Bob Marovich

Gospel singer Brian Courtney Wilson has many reasons to be proud.

His second CD, So Proud (Music World Gospel), is receiving positive response in the press and at radio. He was nominated for an NAACP Image Award and his single, "All I Need," was a major chart success. Worship teams sing his songs in churches across the country, including “Already Here,” which the United Methodist Church selected as a hymn.

One might think that the gospel highway is well paved for the Chicago-born, Houston-based Wilson. But if you listen closely to the lyrics on So Proud, you’ll hear something to the contrary.

In fact, several songs on the new album find Wilson with head bowed, affirming his faith in the midst of the frustrations and anxiety he experienced transitioning from the financial certainty of a successful career in pharmaceutical sales to the uncertainty of life as a gospel singer.

Brian Courtney Wilson and Bob
Marovich in 2008, during the
rough period prior to
Just Love.

“I went through some tough times getting [my first CD, Just Love] out to the public,” Wilson says. “I made critical decisions that impacted my life and my family, and things weren’t happening on the timeline I thought it would happen. Opportunities were starting to dry up all around me. I was afraid that I had led my family to shipwreck. That’s when the song ‘So Proud’ came to me: no matter the circumstance, I had to keep believing. I had to keep my head up, keep going and trust that God has a plan in the middle of it.

“Hebrews tells us that faith is about believing without seeing. I feel that God gave me the song to remind me about the people in my life who never gave up on me, never gave up on their families, never gave up on the dreams and promises that God made to them.”

Brian Courtney Wilson discusses the background of So Proud and the pressure he was feeling after the success of his Just Love album.

Another song on So Proud that speaks to Wilson’s experience is “Storm In Mind.”

“That song was inspired by a conversation I heard on TBN between two men,” Wilson explains. “One said he was on a cruise ship going through some turbulent waters. The people were starting to get upset. The captain made an announcement that everyone should calm down because he was there when the ship was made, so he knew that it was built to endure the type of storm it was going through.

“The story struck me because I was going through my own storm. I wondered whether my circumstance was like a punishment: you are going through it because you have done the wrong thing. What ‘Storm In Mind’ says is that a storm doesn’t always mean you are on the wrong track. Sometimes it means you are on the right track. You have to keep going to find out what you were made to endure. We’ve always said that God doesn’t put more on you than you can bear. God’s plan is not to harm us but to prosper us."

Brian Courtney Wilson, a live performance of ‘He Still Cares,’ from his new album, So Proud

Wilson's concern about the toll his risky behavior was taking on his family inspired “One Day at a Time,” written with PJ Morton. “PJ and I were talking about marriage. I’ve been married eleven years now, but I was telling PJ that marriage happens one day at a time. It’s a choice of faithfulness: each of us has to believe in one another. The song basically says that every day we decide, regardless of what tomorrow might bring, that we don’t want to face that next day without each other. We choose each other one day at a time.”

Wilson's risk has paid off. "Since Just Love was released, I’ve really been great," he says. "I’m so glad that I endured what I endured to get to this point in my life. And so when I sing 'So Proud,' 'Obey Anyway' and 'Closer,' I sing with an assurance that it ends in a good way for people if they just walk it out."

In addition to his NAACP Image Award nomination, Wilson said being named an ambassador for the American Heart Association’s Power to End Stroke in the African American community is among the treasured moments in his singing career thus far.

He recalls an especially memorable incident. “The Power to End Stroke campaign ended with a concert at the Apollo Theater. So here I am, singing at the Apollo, after watching Showtime at the Apollo for years. Now I’m rubbing the rock myself! We get up and do the songs I’ve done everywhere else; we don’t do anything different. We get a standing ovation. Then I see Mavis Staples sitting there in the front row. She stands up and she’s in tears.

“The next day, Mavis’s people tracked me down because she wanted to take a picture with the man who sang ‘All I Need.’ That moment meant a lot to me. You don’t get here without the sacrifices, and the music, of the people who went before you. For her to say that I’ve given something back really meant something.”

Brian Courtney Wilson, ‘Keep Pressing On,’ from the new album, So Proud

Now that So Proud is in stores and the title track is impacting radio, Wilson hopes to add international appearances and television to his list of domestic dates.

“I did not grow up thinking I was going to be a gospel artist,” he says. “I hadn’t been groomed for this. This is something God called me to do, and thankfully He gave me life experiences that I’ve been able to draw from to make it work for me.

"I have a great team to get my music out there, and God opens the door. One of my goals is to be able to look at my career and say that we made a lot of great songs that will benefit people for a very long time.”

Read Bob Marovich’s review of So Proud here.

Posted at The Black Gospel Blog, February 7, 2012

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