Twenty-five-year-old gospel artiste Russell Blackman describes himself as a “modern-day David who wants to take the news of his encounters with God to the world”, hence the title of his debut album, One Shepherd Boy, officially launched at a recent Listening Party at the Grande Salle at the Tom Adams Financial Centre.
Russell recently completed his studies in Leadership, Music and Business Administration at the Southwestern Assemblies Of God University in Waxahachie, Texas in the United States and spoke of how the songs came to be.
“The majority of the seven songs on the album came to me when I was having quiet devotional time with God. But one of them, a chorus entitled Shake Us Again, began life as an ad lib we did in the worship team at The People’s Cathedral when we sang All Honour, All Glory. The only cover on the album is Sovereign Lord by John W. Stevenson, because I feel the power of God directly whenever I sing it during worship.”
He added that the order of the songs on the album depicts a journey, starting with New Day, an up-tempo number with an African influence in its rhythm, and ending with Anthem, which to his mind was “downloaded from heaven to earth, as it is a vision of all creation looking at God and praising Him.”
One composition in particular, Love Song, touched the majority of the audience which included several pastors along with fellow gospel artistes John Yarde and Neesha Woodz. Russell said, “I wrote this song in 2017 when I ventured into one of the music rooms on campus, and as I started playing the keyboard, I thought of the intimate relationship I shared with God and within 20 minutes it was finished.” The album‘s other two songs which he kept under wraps at the listening party, are Come As You Promise and Lord Most High.
Russell said he first discussed the project about four years ago with two close friends, Kirk Arthur and Raphael Hinds; the latter eventually became the musical director for the entire production. Kirk described Russell as “a brilliant songwriter and singer”.
Raphael said the process was “a great learning experience I shared with talented people who shared my passion, and even more, I felt the presence and grace of God throughout the venture and that pulled me towards the album.”
The album makes its official debut on November 2, and will be available on iTunes, Spotify and all the other major musical digital download websites. Beyond that, every week during the month of November, Russell will be releasing videos highlighting different aspects of the album’s production, including the inspiration behind the songs, the people who put it together, the recording process, and ‘bloopers’. He is also producing a line of T-shirts, caps and other merchandise items, and promises there will be more to come in 2019.
So, just as the shepherd boy David in the Bible eventually became the King of Israel, look forward to even greater things from Russell Blackman. (DH)