Mark Hubbard and the Voices a hit in Chicago

Mark Hubbard and the United Voices of Christ Choir performed with Byron Cage at the city’s Gospel Music Festival held earlier this month. The Stellar Award-winning choir not only sings alongside gospel recording artists, but they lend their talents

Mark Hubbard and the United Voices of Christ continue to hit all the right notes. Fresh off of a moving, high-praising performance at the city’s Gospel Music Festival held earlier this month in Millennium Park, the Defender caught up with Hubbard to talk about his choir’s secular and gospel music experiences.

At age 8, Hubbard displayed an interest in choir directing. This curiosity lead him to eventually become the choir director for Greater Holy Temple Missionary Baptist Church.

In 1985, by the age of 19, Hubbard, a native Chicagoan, created the United Voices of Christ choir with only three members. Its small number didn’t detour the choir from singing and adopting three main principles: take a stand against the devil, win souls for Christ, and exalt the Lord with serious praise, Hubbard told the Defender. The principles not only provided the Voices, as they are affectionately called, with spiritual growth, but Hubbard said it also caused the choir to grow to over 100 members.

In 1992, Hubbard and the Voices signed their first recording contract with Tyscot Records, going on to record four projects, including A Different Level and He’s Up There. These projects garnered Hubbard and the Voices three Stellar Award nominations and national attention. In 2006, Hubbard the Voices won a Stellar Award for best traditional choir, for their Blessin Waitin On Me album.

But the choir doesn’t lend its voice solely to religious music. While Hubbard and the Voices have performed with many of the notable gospel recording artists, they’ve also worked with R&B artists. They even appeared in the sixth video installment of R&B singer R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet musical saga.

In the past, a gospel artist collaborating with a secular artist would have raised eyebrows, but Hubbard approaches the subject objectively.

“Working with secular artists is great. I look at it as an experience. I don’t find it hard at all. It doesn’t change my faith, priciples, or standards,” he told the Defender.  Hubbard has a number of secular projects underway, but he’s mum about naming names.

“I can’t disclose that information at this time,” he said, laughing.

Hubbard admits to being a listener of some of today’s popular R&B artists like Trey Songz and Chrisette Michelle, but gospel music and artists come first.

“I am a fan of all gospel music artists. Those are my peers and colleagues,” Hubbard said. The choir leader further explained how secular and gospel music have deeper origins.

“The music comes from our African ancestors being in the fields singing. They were singing to make it through the hard times of slavery. All the music (secular and gospel) is going to have some religious or soul base. We’re going to always have that feel to our music,” he explained.

Hubbard offered advice for anyone looking to break into – and make it in -the music industry: “Really study your craft. Be one-step ahead of yourself. Put Christ first because he’ll definitely guide your footsteps.”

Mark Hubbard and the United Voices for Christ are recording new material that will be released in 2011.    

Copyright 2010 Chicago Defender.

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