Gospel Artist Tina Jenkins Crawley Earns International Success with New Album
Tina Jenkins Crawley is not a traditional Gospel artist. To be clear, she's not exactly contemporary Gospel either - at least not in the style that's generally accepted in the genre. But maybe with her new project, The Longest Journey (already #1 on UK soul charts), all of that will change, and TJ's voice will be the defining one amidst the cacophony of copycat ensembles and chord changes.
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BREATHEcast recently caught up with Crawley to discuss her varied musical influences and what it feels like to be an international superstar.
You have such a unique sound. Were you ever worried that it would be too unique for gospel, which can sometimes lean toward the traditional?
I was worried at first. Some years back, I didn't know where my sound or music would fit in. But I made a decision to accept who I am and what my sound is, and I tried to embrace the fact that if God gave me a unique sound - and unique take on how to express it - he would make room for me use it. So, I decided to go for it.
Who are some of your musical influences?
I really love Israel [Houghton], Tasha Cobbs, CeCe Winans, Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Martha Munizzi, Javen, Crystal Lewis and Hillsong Artists when it comes to Gospel and Christian music. As far as secular, I love Ledisi, Jill Scott, Raul Midon, Sting, Robert Glasper, Jonathan Butler, Joe Sample and Incognito.
Your music has been so well-received in Europe. As an artist, how important is your international success versus the success you have here in the states?
To be honest, I am so thankful to have success anywhere, but I will say that a long time ago, I prayed to release my music abroad first. My music is a different approach to spiritual/inspirational music, and I thought it would be great to test the ground abroad first. This year will be the time I will share and release the music in the states, and I will be praying that it is also really well received here.
In the UK, your music has begun to reach a mainstream market, and you have been featured by jazz and soul outlets. Is crossover a primary goal, or a welcome benefit?
Yes, it's a welcome benefit for sure! I know that at first hearing, the soul and jazz style of many of my songs may capture the listening ear of any soul, jazz or adult contemporary music fan. But then I know that, pretty soon, they will take a listen and hear what I am saying, and it's there I am praying the content of the words will impact their hearts.
Because I am such a lover of jazz, neo-soul and soul music, I have to come from a place, musically, that inspires me. But no matter what music type, my major influence is my relationship with God, so when I sing jazz, soul, R&B or worship, my hope is that my love for him is obvious and shines through. My goal is to be able to sing at churches and jazz venues and openly share inspirational music. I know that when I sing my songs, it's a way I can share my faith while people hear music they can relate to.
Have you ever considered moving to Europe there permanently?
I really have enjoyed traveling to Europe and singing for the Lord there, and it has been a prayer answered "to sing for the Lord around the world." I pray to be able to sing in Europe and beyond every year, but for now Chicago is my home and I look forward to being here for a little while longer.
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