Award-winning gospel recording artist Kurt Carr is back in the studio working on his eighth album. Reel Urban News caught up with the talented singer-songwriter in Los Angeles, where he reflected on his musical journey and discussed his new project, “Bless Somebody Else.” If you're a singer, read on – you may find yourself onstage with the gospel great.
The Grammy Award winner opened our exclusive in-studio meeting by playing his first global hit, "In The Sanctuary." “If they don’t know that song they probably don’t know me,’ said Carr. "That song, ‘In The Sanctuary,' changed my whole career.”
The former Minister of Music at the First Baptist Church of Hartford, Conn. vividly remembers writing the song. “At the time I was music director at the West Angeles Church here in L.A. and this preacher preached about a scripture in the Psalms that says, 'And God will bless you in the sanctuary.' I was like, wow that’s a catchy title.
“We had already been rehearsing for my new album for three months and it was the week before that I taught the song to my group as a warm-up song two rehearsals before the recording session. The next day one of the girls who had a daughter who was like six years old at the time said, 'Kurt, my daughter will not stop singing that song. Maybe we should record it' And we did. Eighteen years later I sent her to college as a thank you [laughs].”
After accompanying the late Andraé Crouch on an international tour, Carr realized the power and influence of gospel music.
“I was pretty established in my career already. I had an album, I lived in L.A. for 18 years but had never met Andraé Crouch," recalled Carr. "As fate would have it I was at a meeting and a young lady named Patty Howard who worked with him said, 'We’re rehearsing tonight, want to come?' I was like Yes! She told Andraé Crouch I was a piano player for James Cleveland and he said, 'Let me hear you play something.'
"He just loved the way that I played. I played one of his big hits, 'To God Be the Glory.' And he said to me, 'We’re going to Europe next week – want to go? I was like …Yes!
“He [Crouch] didn’t know that I had a career, albums and a busy schedule," explained Carr. "I just kinda put all of that on the back burner to work with in my opinion the greatest gospel songwriter of all time. I think he’s the greatest."
Known for writing gospel hits such as “Can’t Nobody Do Me Like Jesus," "Through It All" and "Let The Church Say Amen," Carr credits Crouch with having a tremendous effect on his life and career. “In that time working and touring with him it opened my eyes that the gospel was not just for black people. It was not just for people who looked like me. It was for people around the world.
"I’ll never forget we were in Scandinavia and these nuns came up with their habits on. They didn’t have running water and no electricity, and they knew his music. I was like woo, I would love to do that and that’s when I had the idea to write the song 'In the Sanctuary' and it became a world anthem, translated into a dozen languages. It’s taken me around the world.”
Carr’s album No One Else, which featured the international mega-hit “For Every Mountain,” further cemented his position as music royalty. However, the singer-songwriter recalled being challenged by his critics and interviewers with the same question.
“In every interview I did, I was asked, 'How are you going to top "For Every Mountain"? How are you going to do that?' I was like, 'I’m not going to do it, God’s going to do it.'"
It was during this period that Carr reflected on the wisdom garnered from Andraé Crouch. “He told me after the song 'For Every Mountain,' ‘Don’t forget that God gave you that and his gifts never run out.'"
Carr has recently brought his hit-making talent to writing a Broadway musical with Tony Award-winner Billy Porter of Kinky Boots fame. “I am so encouraged and blessed that one of my dreams has been to write a Broadway show," says Carr. "I’ve done that with Porter, he’s a huge star. And our producer is Jewish, he said, 'Man, you had me rocking for Jesus.'"
In the final moments of our interview Carr told Michael Reel of Reel Urban News that he is on the lookout for new group members. “In addition to the album being entitled Bless Somebody Else, I’ve decided to have a search for two new Kurt Carr Singers. For the first time in the history of my group – and everybody knows that I have the baddest singers – I’m having auditions for two new people. The catch is they must be between 21 and 28 years old, the Millennials.
"I’ve got to 'Bless Somebody Else!'"