Anthony Brown is set to release his self-titled album, “Anthony Brown and Group TherAPy” August 21, 2012 on Tyscot Records. The singer, songwriter, producer who has collaborated with Donald Lawrence, Maurette Brown Clark and others is finally taking center stage. “It’s been a long road of shaping and perfecting the gift that God has given me,” Brown says.
The Gospel Music Examiner spoke with Brown about the album, signing with Tyscot and more. What emerged during the interview was a portrait of an artist dedicated to his craft, committed to God and not afraid of being transparent.
How did you come up with the name Group TherAPy? “I felt that singers, artists and musicians who are in church, work in church, sung in church and served have had bad situations. As a result of wear and tear with the church they’ve become discouraged with using their gift, so God charged me with being a safe place for musicians and artists to come together without fear of being abused and used. They can come to repair and heal, at the same time perfecting that which God has given us. What I didn’t want to see happen were people who were very gifted spewing out their issues rather than God’s message for his people. When you’re wounded and you’re damaged, sometimes you are more venomous than you are helpful. So that’s really where the concept came from. I believe God has given us a fresh sound that will also be therapeutic.”
How did the group come together? “God literally orchestrated that. He knew better than I did who needed to be in that circle and for what reason. I literally let God choose and vocally he’s given me incredible singers that have developed into their own through the years. “There’s a bond there that you can hear past the vocals. When you hear them sing you sort of know that we actually do love each other and we really do love God as well.”
At the Stellar Awards in January, Stellar Award winner VaShawn Mitchell brought Brown backstage and announced that he had been signed by Tyscot Records.
“That was a huge night for me. I was so nervous because it’s something when you pray for God to enlarge your territory and expand who you are and then when it happens, you’re like ‘wait a minute, the Lord really did answer my prayer.’ Vashawn Mitchell is such an incredible artist. It was a huge night for him and he didn’t think it robbery to give up his moment to encourage me.”
Mitchell’s involvement went far beyond that announcement. Mitchell partnered with Tyscot Records to help bring Brown’s album to the forefront and also appears on the project. Brown believes his album has a message.
“All the songs are definitely sewn together by one common message; a message of love and redemption. It’s a message to encourage those who are in my position, which is ‘I’m anointed, I’m called, God set me to do something, but I am dealing with God’s call on my life and the things that I struggle with on a day- to-day basis.’ I struggled with that for many years. God had to show me about his strengths, about His love, His grace and His mercy that covers a multitude of who we are. So when I stand before God’s people, I stand in His strength, I stand in His love alone. If He’s given you a message, given you an assignment to do, He has already given you the grace that you need to perform and do what He’s called you to do. The album is definitely an inside look into what it’s like to be in church, in trouble.
“Testimony” is getting heavy airplay and is currently #26 on the Billboard Gospel Songs chart. Surprisingly, Brown says “Testimony” almost didn’t make the album.
“I had finished the record. I was mixing it and preparing it and I was having one of those days where I was overwhelmed and just really feeling the weight of a current challenge I was facing. God had to speak to me and said ‘Anthony didn’t I bring you out from the other situation? Have I not been your God and made you victorious in every situation?’ I was sitting there and started reminding myself about how we used to have testimony service. The saints would speak about what God had done for them or what they had been going through or where they were going. It reminded me of the word it says we overcome by the blood of the lamb and the word of the testimony. I just believe that everybody has a story; everybody has a testimony to tell. That’s where the song came from.
Brown wrote all the songs on the 12-track album. “They’re all my babies so I love them all, but the last song on the project, “Deep Enough” is pretty much the answer to the first song (“Group Therapy”). It sums up everything that I’m talking about and is just a song for all the believers and those who may not believe yet, that yes, God does love you enough that whatever it is you think you can’t deal with, He can handle it.”
He has written many songs for Stellar Award winner Maurette Brown Clark, including her #1 hit “It Aint Over.” Brown says, “She’s been my mom pretty much since I came to the gospel music industry. I admire her gift and her integrity she’s just a nice lady, she genuinely loves her fans, she’s normal and she’s caring.” She joins him on “Harvest Song.”
“Harvest Song” is dear to me too because I just believe that if you sow in tears, you’ll reap in joy and we really hone that message home with the “Harvest Song.” It’s for anybody that’s serving in ministry. Sometimes you can get a little tired. You’re serving and you’re tired, but God sent me a word; God is not unjust.”
“I tell people he’s the child that I didn’t have to birth. He writes for me. I know he’s going to write for other people. He has a heart for God, his songs are incredible.”-Maurette Brown Clark (Nov 2011 interview)
Brown, currently serves as Assistant Minister of Music at First Baptist Church of Glenarden (FBCG) under the leadership of Pastor John K. Jenkins. “I believe he’s one of the greatest pastors on the earth. The oil that is on Pastor Jenkins life has definitely dripped into mine and I’m grateful.
FBCG is one of the largest churches in Maryland so Brown must balance the demands of church ministry with his growing career. “Our pastor feels we are ambassadors for the church. He doesn’t hold us back from what our assignment is. My first priority is to the house that I serve and I’m so grateful because we have a great support team, choir and praise team.
Brown lent his talents to praise and worship leader Stephen Hurd‘s 2009 GRAMMY® and Stellar-nominated CD, ‘Time of Refreshing,” Along with Kenny Shelton, he co-produced Hurd’s current project, “O That Men Would Worship.” Hurd also happens to be Brown’s boss at FBCG.
“Stephen’s a great friend, great person, he really knows his assignment. I think God set me there under his tutelage so I could understand mine. He really has been a blessing to me. He and Maurette gave me no fear of judgment or jealousy. They celebrate completely who God was in me. I got an early dose of ‘it’s okay to celebrate,’ whoever it is. He helped me to be okay with being okay with who I am in God. He’s a man of God and an incredible individual.”
“Anthony Brown is by far one of the most ingenious musical gifts in the world. His passion and musicianship are stellar.”-Stephen Hurd (May 2012 interview)
A CD release concert for Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy is scheduled for Monday, August 20, 2012 at 7 p.m. at FBCG. Doors will open at 6 p.m. Needless to say the singer is excited. “I have been waiting for this moment for so long. It’s going to be quite the celebration and it’s a time to praise God and honor Him for what He’s doing in our lives to help us move forward.”