Brian Courtney Wilson talks about his New Music, Community, and Self Worth
We recently got a chance to sit with gospel recording artist Brian Courtney Wilson. He has a deep yet humble passion for people and intends to do what he can to encourage them not to give up. He carries a sincere presence about him that inspires people to keep going and a gentle motivation that lets you know that everything works out with faith. Check out our inspiration filled interview with Chicago native Brian Courtney Wilson!
Heed Magazine: Talk to me a little bit about your journey as an artist.
Brian Courtney Wilson: For me it starts with being nurtured into it by my parents as a child. I talk about this a lot, how my dad insisted that I go to choir rehearsal with him. Most of the time they weren’t even singing. They would sit around and talk and try to get each other through the week. They were all working class black men in Chicago and it could be tough, not that it’s any less tough now. One thing I picked up from that is that music is about building community and making sure the community is inspired and feels enough hope to keep moving on. That’s what I hope informs my music now. I want to make sure I make the type of music where people are dancing, singing, crying, worshiping God and believing it’s gonna be alright. I’m praying that I leave that type of legacy with the music I make.
HM: You mentioned community. I listened to your new song, “Worth Fighting For”, which is an incredible song. What inspired the sound and the theme for this very thematic record?
BCW: First of all, thanks for saying that! Second, It started off with a conversation between me and the producer, Aaron Lindsey. He had asked me about the state of the church and that’s one of those questions where you can be easily negative, especially because there was some negative things concerning the church in the news at that time. On top of that, I think pop culture mocks the church sometimes. I thought about all the times the church has been there for my family and how I think the church still needs to be there, and I said it was worth fighting for. We both knew then that we would at least have a song.
Fast forward two years, one of the things I realized was that if the church was gonna fight, that each member of the church’s individual fight was at stake. By that I mean, the fight for our family, the fight for the call on our life, the fight for our faith even when circumstance contradict what we believe. I just want to encourage people to keep going and keep believing that God will manifest His presence. That was the inspiration for the record. I’m hoping songs like It’ll Be Alright will make folks truly feel that it will be alright. I want my album to encourage folks that believe what we believe about the church that it still matters to gather, it matters to worship God and it’s still worth fighting for. It should govern the way we approach our own challenges.
HM: How do you balance being an artist and a minister with maintaining a healthy family life as well?
BCW: Man, I gotta say grace. One of the things I try to do is take it a day at a time. You gotta make sure you’re checking in on your family and whatever successes you are experiencing because of your career aren’t used as a measure of you as a father. Those two aren’t the same thing. You’ve gotta check in with your family and let your presence always be there as you meet their needs. That’s why I pray everyday. It takes grace to do this.
HM: When did you know that you were meant to travel the world and proclaim the message of Jesus through song?
BCW: I don’t know if I’ve had just one moment. I’ve felt a pull toward it my whole life and, over time, I realized I was really good at it. There have just been moments in time that confirm that decision. There’s a verse that says that “faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” What you’re seeing now is the fruit of my faith.
HM: How have you grown and what have you noticed?
BCW: Yeah, I think I’ve definitely grown. You start to become more sure of your voice, regardless of who accepts your voice. That way you don’t need anyone to validate the fact that you have something of value to bring, you just keep singing until you get to the people you are supposed to get to. I know more about who I am and what I’m supposed to be saying and now I’m more patient when it comes to waiting for those people to hear. I still wonder sometimes what people think, but I have to remind myself that what God has for you is for you.
HM: I agree with that. I’m looking forward to seeing where you are very soon because this is a great project. I can’t wait to see it take off. What are some of your favorite songs on the project?
BCW: Certainly “Worth Fighting For” and I love the way “It Will Be Alright” feels. I see people listening to that on a Monday morning on their way into work, giving that sort of bob your head confirmation. You know, Mondays can be tough sometimes. That song is a reminder that whatever you’re going through, if you just keep going through it you’ll be ok, you know?. Don’t quit, don’t stop, just trust in the Lord. I can say that “Nothing Occurs To God” is just a reminder that regardless of the things that surprise us, nothing surprises Him. He is the beginning and the end of the plan for our life, so I love that song. I appreciate that you see it as a body of work because I’d been praying for this to be something people can listen to in its entirety, and bless them.
HM: Sometimes with gospel music, it doesn’t tend to be cohesive. There are usually just great songs, but your album is holistically good in a landscape where it’s been difficult to place a lot of gospel. We want to provide that same platform that encourages people to keep going and keep fighting.
BCW: Man, that’s it right there. I appreciate the consideration and kind words. I feel that way about it too!
HM: Our theme is tied into taking heed as referenced in scripture. What do you take heed to as an artist, a man and a father?
BCW: Right now, I’m taking heed to the narrative that’s being told to my children about who they are and how valuable they are. We have a campaign called the #WeAreWorthFightingFor Campaign. Based on some of the injustices we’ve seen against people of color in the media, I started to wonder how this affects my son. I decided to write him a letter to let him know how valuable he is to me and let him know he is worth fighting for and that if no one believes it, he should. I told him to strive for more and better than popular culture tells him he deserves and never allow himself to be diluted. What I’m trying to take heed to now and teach my children to take heed to is that the narratives we are sometimes given are not the narratives God has for us. You’ve got to be able to distinguish that. You live life by faith.
Brian Courtney Wilson’s album “Worth Fighting For” is available at all retailers! Check out this acoustic version of his hit single, “Worth Fighting For”!
Interview by Mike Sanford
Story by Vince Wilson