Baltimore, MD Gospel Label Succeeds Against The Odds
In this downturned economy, many long established record labels have either folded or been sold because they just can't break even on today's musical landscape where physical CD sales have plummeted because consumers don't have as much discretionary income as they did a decade ago and millions are unemployed.
In spite of the poor forecast for the music industry as a whole, Baltimore, MD-based Habakkuk Music is holding its own and still churning out gospel radio hits ranging from its flagship artist, Lisa Page Brooks, who shot to the top spot on Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart two years ago, to newcomers such as Gerald Scott & Co. and Cheneta Jones.
At the helm of this enterprise is April Washington, a seasoned music vet who worked at Motown, RCA Records, Capitol Records and WEA distribution prior to branching off into the gospel music world in 1997 and becoming one of its top radio promoters for well over a decade. Among her successful achievements are promoting CeCe Winans' gold-selling "Throne Room" CD and Shekinah Glory Ministry's #1 album, "Jesus."
In 2008, April founded Habakkuk Music and pushed obscure or under-recognized artists to the front pew of the church. After years of fronting the group Witness and as a soloist, Lisa Page Brooks finally got a #1 hit when April made Brook's tune "I Just Want To Say Thank You" one of the biggest songs of 2010. She also gave rapper Papa San his highest charting CD ever on the reggae chart with "Higher Heights" and she also orchestrated a successful marketing campaign for singer Jessica Greene to win a Stellar Award as Best New Artist of the Year.
Knowing how to market the acts hasn't been the biggest struggle for Habakkuk though. "The biggest challenge is obtaining enough funding to do everything I'd like to do," April says. "But we've been fortunate to get funding assistance with the help of Meridian Management Group, Inc. and MD Dept of Business & Economic Development. There is assistance for minority and woman-owned businesses, you just have to seek it out."
Currently, April is undertaking an eight-city promo tour that kicks off August 9 in Chattanooga, TN. It's called "Got Gospel? Open Mic Night" and it serves to brand her artists as well as publicize an all-star compilation CD, "Got Gospel? The Best Indie Tracks... Yesterday, Today & Forever." Aside from the tour featuring aspiring talent in cities such as Baltimore, Raleigh and Little Rock, it will be hosted by BET Comic View host Steffon Vann and boast performances from Habakkuk artists Lisa Page Brooks, Cheneta Jones and Gerald Scott & Co. All of the artists are featured on the "Got Gospel?" CD alongside such legendary names as Vickie Winans and Rance Allen.
There's no laurel resting at Habakkuk. April is currently on the road working a half dozen radio singles like Lisa Page Brook's new cut "Better Than life" and Gerald Scott & Co.'s upbeat tune, "Alright". She adds that, "I surround myself with successful entrepreneurs for encouragement and inspiration to keep me going, no matter what! One day when it was really tough and I wanted to quit, my mentor, Germaine Leftridge (GBL Sales) said to me, 'Don't believe your lying eyes!' Meaning that not matter what it looks like, stay faithful & committed and you will win."
"For me, it dangerous to focus on what's stacked against me, not to say that odds don't exist," says April who prevailed in court when a disgruntled former artist sued the company three years back. "But if I focus on it, I probably would have quit five years ago. To overcome the challenges, I am becoming a better businesswoman by diversifying the company and broadening my perspective. My most important discipline is to stay grateful for every blessing, big and small."
HABAKKUK MUSIC'S BIGGEST BILLBOARD GOSPEL HITS YET
2012 Cheneta Jones - Transformed (CD) #13 Top Gospel Albums
2012 Clint Brown - Release (CD) #30 Top Gospel Albums
2012 Various Artists - Got Gospel (CD) #50 Top Gospel Albums
2011 Lisa Page Brooks - God is Good #14 Hot Gospel Songs
2011 Clint Brown - Send Your Rain #28 Hot Gospel Songs
2011 Gail Holmes - Whatever It Is (Let It Go) #21 Hot Gospel Songs
2010 Lisa Page Brooks - I Want To Say Thank You #1 Hot Gospel Songs
2010 Lisa Page Brooks - Strong (CD) #18 Top Gospel Albums
2009 Papa San - Higher Heights (CD) #4 Top Reggae Albums
2009 Isaiah D. Thomas - Said He Would Be With Me #14 Hot Gospel Songs
2008 Isaiah D. Thomas - The Greatest #17 Hot Gospel Songs
2008 Kevin Levar - Let's Come Together #22 Hot Gospel Songs
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