I caught up with former South Side worship leader and choir director Anita Wilson after she returned from the 2013 Stellar Music Awards in Nashville and before she left for the 2013 Grammy awards yesterday. I found out a lot about gospel music, women in ministry, self-image and encouragement from the EMI gospel artist, and ended the conversation feeling high on faith and life. "I'm really adamant about you feeling my music, feeling it in your soul," Anita said. "I want listeners to feel elevated when you listen to it."
After rocking out to her tracks for about 24 hours, I'm here to encourage you to check out her music. Today's Christian Woman offered a 24-hour-free download of "It's Done," a track off of her Grammy-nominated album, Worship Soul, last week. Even though the download period has ended, you can still read an exclusive interview with the Grammy-nominated Gospel artist here:
Your debut album, Worship Soul, is up for Gospel Record of the Year at the Grammy’s this weekend. Did you ever think your first album would be a Grammy-nominated production?
Absolutely not. I never foresaw a Grammy nomination. I actually recorded the project independently here in Chicago before I was signed to a label. At first, I wasn’t even sure I wanted to do a project—it’s an oversaturated industry. I always make the joke that somebody’s in the studio right now recording a project, so I didn’t know if it was the right thing for me to do. Once I felt led to go ahead and do it, I took my time writing the songs. People release projects all the time, and it’s kind of a shot in the dark. You don’t know if people will like it or not, but the feedback I’ve gotten since its release has been amazing. I’ve gotten amazing support from everyone. To go from not even knowing if I was going to sign with a record label to now being nominated for a Grammy, it’s unimaginable. It’s amazing. So I’m grateful.
You grew up as a Baptist preacher's kid in East St. Louis. Did you always know you wanted to go into ministry and gospel music?
It was maybe predictable path for me because in addition to my father being a Baptist minister, he’s also a musician and a singer. So he was my first influence in music. He would play music around the house, and that’s how I developed my love of great gospel music as well as 70's and 80's soul. So he was a great influence on me, but at the same time, it wasn’t always a sure path that I was gonna take. As I got older, I definitely had the natural talent to go on and sing in church, and we'd also perform concerts every year in a little family group, but not until I was a little older did I think that was a specific path I wanted to take myself. As I felt God strengthening me in the area of performance, I felt that I would be able to bring something specific to the table--that God really wanted to use me to bless people with music.
I was on staff at Fellowship Missionary Baptist Church in Chicago as a worship leader and choir director for about eight years, from 2005 up until last summer when I started traveling to promote Worship Soul. I wasn’t able to fulfill the duties of being there every weekend. It was a bittersweet goodbye, but working there was a great experience.
What's the main theme of your Grammy-nominated album, Worship Soul?
Each song on Worship Soul definitely has a message of encouragement. It comes in a different package on each song, but even just looking at the song titles, there’s a thread of faith in God and trusting God, worshiping him and praising him despite your circumstances, whether they’re good or bad. If we’re having a wonderful season, we can get comfortable and feel like we don’t need God as much as we needed him before. Then on the flip side, if we’re going through a rough season, we think God is not working for us, and we’re not really walking in faith and trust the way we need to. So from beginning to end, Worship Soul encourages the listener to keep on praisin’ no matter what your circumstances are. There’s a message through the whole project to keep faith and trust in God, knowing he’s in control of every situation. So whether good or bad, God, I’m always going to give you the praise and worship that you’re due. All the time. He’s always worthy.
Hear a sample of Anita's gospel music in the music video of "It's Done," below, and download it for free until 9 a.m. on Saturday, Feb. 9 at this link: