James Johnson, Jr. | “You Made Me”

James Johnson, Jr. echoes his purpose in gospel music with the E.P. debut, You Made Me

Kerry Douglas’s distinctive gospel music vision as the CEO of Blacksmoke Music Worldwide has brought Zacardi Cortez, quartet artist Keith ‘Wonder Boy’ Johnson and now James Johnson, Jr. Johnson, Jr., a familiar voice to the Blacksmoke Family for the past 6 years, currently serves as the music minister for First Sterling Baptist Church in Sterling, Virginia and furthered his theology studies at Virginia Union University. His heart sincerely pounds for the church with an undeniable passion in testifying about the goodness of God throughout his unwavering ministry. Besides his collaborations with and songwriting for Tye Tribbett, Maurette Brown-Clark, and Marvin Sapp to name a few of gospel legends, Johnson Jr.’s steady tenor echoes a spiritual beauty beyond the message.

After a few singles such as “God Will,” the multi-Stellar Award nominated Johnson, Jr. finally reveals his first solo 6-track E.P., You Made Me. Compared to occasional productions that tend to take the focus off the artist, everything surrounding You Made Me puts the emphasis on what Johnson, Jr. excels in through quality vocal arrangements, featured vocalists and lyric content.

Johnson, Jr. comes out of the gate with a clip of the Sunday morning choir, transitioning into a funky R&B witness by telling ‘his side of the story’ to his grandmother on the title track. “You Made Me,” featuring Vincent Gross, Sr., Ashley Felder, and Lucy Gross, notates verses from the scriptural treasure, Psalms 23. The current radio single, “Agree,” featuring Kerry Douglas, paints a quiet ballad focusing on the understanding of the goodness of God: “We agree on a miracle,” accented by the interaction of Johnson, Jr. and the background ensemble. While speaking to God’s restoration, “Through It All” tosses a soundtrack of trap beats and jazz piano tidbits framed by articulate string passages. The remaining tracks: “Absolutely Awesome,” “The Greatness of You,” about the “rising of the sun to its setting” and “Your Love” completes a phenomenal debut for James Johnson, Jr. Five stars out of five stars.

Peggy Oliver
The Urban Music Scene