Interview: Professor Wilbur Belton

Jul 16 2020

Professor Wilbur Belton and Company have released their second 'Live in London' album. Louder Than The Music chatted with Professor Belton about recording the album and how he engages audiences by combining different cultures and flavours of music. Read on to find out more about his work.

For those who haven't heard of you before, can you tell us a bit about yourself and how you got involved in making music?

My musical journey began as a toddler. I played piano at the tender age of three and later studied music in my early education through high school. I received a Bachelor’s Degree from Catholic University in my hometown of Washington, DC, in Music Education. Consequently, after my extensive research and training, I’ve been bestowed an Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters in May 2018 for my musical achievements. I became a musician at my home church, Church of Jesus Christ at the age of ten, and now I serve as Director of Music.

Tell us about your latest 'Live in London' album and what that was like to record?

The live-in London was an explosive worship experience that combined both ethnic cultures, the US and UK, together with one purpose in mind to glorify God. The Music was a collaborative effort with Jarrett Turnipseed, Music Director, who assisted with the musical rearrangements of our performance set from popular artists in the US. We also incorporated the European flavor to engage the audience and premiered a few original songs, as well.

Which is your favorite track on the album and why?

One of my favorite tracks is “He Did It,” written by Jarrett Turnipseed, which talks about Christ's unconditional love for us. It references the golden text of the Bible, John3:16. “ For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish but have everlasting life."

What message would you like people to take from your music?

My primary goal is to use Company as a model for gospel choirs and ensembles aboard. I have a great love for choir music and what it offers, especially in the worship experience.

How would you describe your style of music, and what are your influences?

Company's music style is uplifting and rousing sounds of praise with the new contemporary choir feel. Ricky Dillard influences me by his animation, Richard Smallwood infuses classical with the gospel sound; Donald Lawrence for his vocal arrangements and Judith McAllister incorporates Praise & Worship flow with a choir.

If you could work with any songwriter, who would it be and why?

I enjoy the musical arrangements from Donald Lawrence, and his choral approach to gospel music is very influential in the industry.

How would you define success in your career as an artist?

I define success when your talents and skills are recognized. I'm excited about being a 2020 Dove Award Intendee for Traditional Gospel Record, "Live in London" CD project. I'm grateful for the management staff of Zoe Records for this recognition.

What is your favorite album of all time?

I’m a great fan of Walter and Edwin Hawkins. In the ’60s, “ Oh Happy Day” album was recorded and became a major crossover hit, reaching top numbers on the US singles charts. Hawkins use of contemporary sounds, Latin grooves, synthesizers, and a soul-influenced lead vocal performance revolutionized gospel music, paving the way for the contemporary artists of today.

You're stuck on an island; it's hot, you only have enough battery life left to listen to one song on your phone. What track is it?

Live in London song entitled "He’s A Keeper.” The lyrics are so appropriate, He’s a promise keeper, meaning the Lord is a present help in the time of isolation.

What does the next year hold for you?

Professor Belton & Company is currently working on a new CD project. The music will reflect the heart and soul of a choirmaster being in isolation. God is truly amazing!

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