Q&A: Marvin Sapp Talks Live Recording Event in Chicagoland This Friday

The 11-time Grammy-nominated gospel legend returns to record his 16th album at Valley Kingdom Ministries.

This Friday, one of the world’s most revered Gospel recording artists is about to have a homecoming back in the Chicagoland area where family, friends, history, music, love and support reside. 

Marvin Sapp, the ardent and soulful 11-time Grammy-nominated singer-songwriter, is recording his 16th album this Friday evening at Valley Kingdom Ministries in Oak Forest.

His return to the area could represent a full circle moment for the veteran artist—a preacher, leader and teacher—born three hours west in Grand Rapids, Michigan. 

Some 30 years after selling CDs, records and tapes — remember those? — and being signed to a major record label for the bulk of his career, Marvin Sapp finds himself in newer territory, the terra firma where an established artist continues to enjoy success decades in as an independent act.

He shared all that and more when he recently spoke to The Defender about his connection to Chicago, the span of his glorious career and the historic live recording event at Valley Kingdom Ministries.

Regarding his Friday homecoming, Sapp said everyone from the area is invited. 

“I just want Chicago, the south suburbs, the West Side, everybody and they mama, the South Side, west suburbs, just come out and let’s take God to a whole nother level,” he said. “Don’t come sitting, expecting to be entertained, but come and let’s have church because it’s going to be crazy. It’s going to be amazing.”    


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Tacuma Roeback: What is your favorite Bible verse? What are you reading and meditating on throughout the day?

Marvin Sapp: My favorite Bible verse is Ephesians 3:20. Now, in him that is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all that we didn’t ask or think according to the power that works on the inside of us. 

I feel like in order for us to be as successful as God wants us to be, there absolutely has to be a synergy. There has to be connectivity. In order for us to be able to fulfill our purpose, we have to be holistically involved in what God is calling us to do in order for us to experience the exceedingly abundantly above that he wants to give us. That’s my favorite Bible verse. 

You know, being a pastor, a preacher, a leader, a teacher, we don’t necessarily study to preach. Thank God, we study to live. So, I’m always reading something and always looking at different things. And strangely enough, right now, I like to read many articles from Harvard and Princeton and different theological seminaries just to see how they think, their concepts, and their ideas. 

I just did a Bible study the other night from Ecclesiastes 10:19, where it talks about how money answers all things. My teaching was on money matters, but not from the standpoint of tithing and offering, but strategic planning and money management from a biblical perspective. So, I enjoy trying to figure out ways to mesh biblical narratives with current-day culture. It’s fun for me.

Tacuma Roeback: We’re here in Chicago. I am, at least. You’re born about three hours west in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Is that correct?

Marvin Sapp: Yeah, legally. Legally, three hours. Yeah, I spent a lot of time in Chicago, so, I was able to take like two hours, 15 minutes because I knew all the speed traps were. Yeah, but born and raised there. Still have a ton of family that lives in Chicago. My mother’s sister. Tons of cousins and — oh, my God — aunties, uncles. 

We deep on the South Side. Let me just say it like that. 

Tacuma Roeback: When you think about that journey from Grand Rapids to your work with Commissioned to the solo albums and all of the solo albums you’ve recorded, what comes to mind when you think about that journey?

Marvin Sapp: I’m amazed, man. I’m literally amazed and blown away that a small-town boy growing up in the second largest city in the state of Michigan, but still very small by comparison to where I am now, that God would choose to use someone from meek and humble beginnings to allow me to achieve a lot of the things that I’ve been able to achieve and accomplish. I know that it has to do with my work ethic. But I also recognize that it’s because of God’s grace and his mercy as well. So, I’m forever honored and always humbled that he’s allowing me to do some of the things that a lot of gospel artists have never done and probably will never do.

Tacuma Roeback: So, speaking of Chicago and this latest chapter in your journey, you will be recording a live album in the Chicago area. Can you talk about what made you choose Chicago to record here in particular?

Marvin Sapp: Over my career, Chicago has always been a place that has been extremely supportive of my music. Back in the day when we sold these things that they called, like CDs (laughter), when we sold LPs and cassettes…Honestly, when I first started, that’s what we were doing over 30 years ago. Chicago was one of my top-selling markets. Actually, it was in the top five. Thirty-plus years later, I was like, ‘Where can I go to do a live record?’ 

You know, I’m doing it on my own label, totally, completely funding it myself. And I was like, ‘What would be a great place to do it?’ And I was like, ‘You know what, Chicago would be perfect.’ 

The reason why I feel like Chicago would be perfect is because of having a strong base there—people who absolutely love me. My band, believe it or not, for the last 25-plus years, is based out of Chicago. My music director is the pastor of the church where I’m going to be doing the live recording, Pastor Ray Bady (of Valley Kingdom Ministries).

It’s like coming home to family, and it’s a safe place in a safe space. So I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited about it, even though I may not act like it right now. But I’m really, really excited because I believe that it’s going to be an amazing moment, and people are going to see something and experience something that’s going to be transformative.

Tacuma Roeback: This is album number 16 for you, if I’m not mistaken, right?

Marvin Sapp: Man, 16 records, it’s hard to believe (laughter). I was like, ‘Wow, 16 records, and the average record has 10 songs on it. Ten to 12 and over 250, I guess, 260-plus songs, bodies of work. It’s been a wonderful, wonderful season. So, hopefully, I can do something that people will enjoy. People ask the question all the time, ‘Well, what is this record gonna sound like?’ 

It’s gonna sound like the last 13, hopefully. But, you know, keeping it churchy and funky all at the same time.

Tacuma Roeback: That was actually gonna be my next question. What is going to be different about this particular production besides the fact that it’s live?

Marvin Sapp: Well, the difference with this particular production is we’re meshing the then and the now. I’m going to sing some old stuff. I’m going to sing some new stuff. We’re gonna create some content and really introduce people to this Marvin Sapp in this phase of life. 

I believe I still have messaging that I can place the melody. My songs have always been strong, lyrical-based songs. That’s my goal. I understand that my musical assignment isn’t vertical. I’m more of a horizontal singer. 

So, that’s what we’re gonna do. We’re gonna give folks something to think about as it pertains to how to get through struggles, what to do in the midst of adversity. At the end of the day, point them back to Christ.

For More Information

Who and What: Marvin Sapp: Live Recording. Join Marvin Sapp this Friday evening for a transformative live recording event celebrating his enduring connection to Chicago, the span of his illustrious career, and his latest musical journey.

Where: Valley Kingdom Ministries (5300 W. 151st Street, Oak Forest, IL 60452)

When: Friday, May 31 (Doors open at 6 p.m. Recording begins at 7:30 p.m.)

Ticket Info: To purchase tickets, visit MarvinSapp.com.

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