The American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) hosted its 2018 Grammy Nominees Reception on January 27 at The Top of The Standard. The ASCAP Grammy Nominees Reception celebrated its talented artists, songwriters and music creators nominated for the 60th Annual Grammys.“This is our ASCAP’s Grammy Nominee Reception, and it’s super important because it’s our way of celebrating all of our Grammy Nominees and letting them know that they’re already winners to ASCAP. We are super proud of them. We are rooting for every last one of them. And so we have this party just to let them know that,” ASCAP SVP of Membership Nicole George-Middleton shared.
Youthful Praise is an American gospel choir led by James “J.J.” Hairston who directs the choir and composes most of their material. We spoke with him on the red carpet about their nomination.
Congratulations on your Grammy Nomination. Tell us about the song.
J.J. Hairston: The name of the song is “You Deserve It”. It’s on our latest project called You Deserve It. It’s a worship song. It’s not anything that’s really crazy. Which is great, I think it’s because it’s so simple, it’s a song that everybody just grabbed. We’re excited about what’s happening with it.
What do you think about gospel becoming a little bit more mainstream these days? Is that exciting for you?
J.J. Hairston: It’s huge. I think for so long people assumed the secular world doesn’t want to hear gospel music. But now, it could be traditional, it could be hip-hop. All gospel music is getting embraced by all genres. So we’re excited about this time.
And tell me a little bit about how you got your start in music?
J.J. Hairston: We started as a church choir in Bridgeport, Connecticut. I saw a girl in the choir that I wanted to get with, so I joined the choir, and here were are 20-something years later, I married the girl. And she’s been the start of it and she’s been with me through the whole process. And so we’re excited about what’s happening because of that relationship. It’s a choir project, so the choir that I joined became Youthful Praise. We did a huge tour last year with myself and Tye Tribbett. And we were planning on another one this year with all the LiveNation houses. We do a lot of touring. We’re also doing McDonald’s Gospel Tour.
What’s coming up next for you?
J.J. Hairston: We’re releasing a few new projects on our label Imprint, one by Phil Thompson, one by Tim Reddick, and then my wife and I wrote a book called Amazing Love about love and relationships. Every chapter, the title is a song title. So we’re excited about being able to share our story about love and how it can be amazing whether you’re just starting or if it’s been a long time.