Talk about a testimony.
From 1996 to 2006, former Christianaires member Paul Porter fought the battle of his life.
Developing a blood clot on his brain at age 34, the singer lost much of his physical functioning. “I lost my vision, I couldn’t walk,” Porter told The Black Gospel Blog. “I lost my speech and memory. I was paralyzed and in a wheelchair for three years.”
Five surgeries and plenty of prayer later, Porter went “from the wheelchair to a walker to a cane.” This past June, he walked lighthearted and unassisted into a recording studio to begin work on his debut solo CD, A New Day, released today by Nashville-based Light Records.
Paul and his brother Tyrone founded the Christianaires in the 1970s. The quartet, which over the years included Charles Porter, George Carter and Ronald Brown, gained great popularity in the 1980s and 1990s with its sophisticated modern sound and choir-like arrangements. A number of hit singles followed, including a paean to gospel radio announcers titled “Radio Angels.” In 2007, the quartet was inducted into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame.
After producing, writing and singing lead for the Christianaires for more than three decades, Porter left the quartet earlier this year “because I had a lot of songs that I wanted to do with [the Christianaires], but it wasn’t in their format. I decided to do the songs as a solo artist.”
One is the current single from the album, “What Did You Do.” It recently entered Radio & Records Top Gospel Singles chart.
“That was the last song I wrote for the project,” Porter explains. “I didn’t know it would be a single. I just wanted a hand-clapping, Sunday morning song, and so I came up with this song. I wanted listeners to reminisce about the first time they went to church or about the anniversary of when they got saved. People can relate to that, the day they accepted Christ. That led me to realize, ‘Hey, this could be a single.’”
Other songs include “He’s There All the Time,” featuring the Canton Spirituals’ Harvey Watkins, Jr., and "If There's No Tomorrow" with Rance Allen. Porter penned three of the songs on the album and produced five.
The album is a direct reflection of Porter's view of modern ministry. "A lot of people are looking for something that hits home for them today. The church has changed. It is more open to Praise and Worship and other genres of gospel. People are opening their minds more, and looking for something sincere, something that reaches the heart."
Indeed, A New Day showcases Porter’s musical versatility. “I have paid tribute to the quartet style in some of the songs, but this album is diverse. It is urban oriented with guitar and synthesizer as well as choir and solo artist oriented. I wanted the project to be very well rounded.”
The message in the music hits close to home for Porter, as well. He points to “I Made It Through,” a song from the new album, as his personal testimony.
"The song is a great description of what I’ve been through," Porter reflects. "Odds were I would have been an invalid. Thanks to a miraculous healing, I’m now able to get back to touring. So the song really speaks to me. I’m sure it will speak to somebody else.”
Porter has signed a deal allowing him to do another record. Meanwhile, “I will be out touring and getting into other things that the Christianaires, as a quartet, were labeled as not able to do.”
Porter recently did a seven-day radio promotion tour that took him from Nashville to Virginia to Jackson, Mississippi. He admits that all of the activity after such a long period of immobility makes him “a little bit nervous, but I’m committed to doing this. It’s just amazing that I am here.”
By Bob Marovich, Editor - The Black Gospel Blog.
Special thanks to Kia Jarmon of Light Records for arranging the interview.
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