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    Hezekiah Walker

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    Genre:Gospel
    Rank:864 history »
    Rate:
    /5 from 0 users
    Albums:8
    Songs:33

    Most Popular Songs (more)

    1
    1,505 3.5/5
    Every Praise lyrics
    2
    3,802 3.7/5
    I Need You To Survive lyrics
    3
    4,124
    Calling My Name lyrics
    4Speechless lyrics
    5
    5.0/5
    Jesus Is My Help lyrics
    6
    4.0/5
    Let Go Let God lyrics
    7Breakthrough lyrics
    8There's No Way lyrics
    9It Shall Come To Pass lyrics
    10Wait On God lyrics

    Most Popular Albums (more)

    1
    2,495 5.0/5
    Double Play [2010]
    2Souled Out [2008]
    3Live In Toronto [1997]
    4Azusa - The Next Generation 2
    5Azusa: The Next Generation
    6The Essential 3.0 Hezekiah Walker [2010]
    7Recorded live At Love Fellowship Tabernacle [2011]
    8X2: Live In London / A Family Affair [1997]

    Biography

    Personal Information

    Born Hezekiah Xzavier Walker in 1962, in Brooklyn, NY; married Monique; children: KyAsia.

    Career

    Love Fellowship Tabernacle Church, pastor; musician; featured on WOW Gospel 1998: The Year's 30 Top Artists, 1998; Thank You (with Sean "P Diddy" Combs); "Soldiers of Faith" 10 Great Soldiers of Faith (producer), 1997; Shirley Caesar, Miracle in Harlem (vocals), 1997; Luther Vandross, I Know (chorus), 1997; BeBe and CeCe Winans, Heaven (background vocals), 1998; Cissy Houston, Preacher's Wife Soundtrack (vocals), 1998; Sean "P Diddy" Combs, Puff Daddy Forever (vocals), 1999; KRS-One, Boroughs (vocals), 1999; BLACKstreet, Finally (vocals), 1999; videos: Live in Atlanta at Morehouse, Benson, 1994; Songs of the Church, Benson, 1996; Live in London, Verity, 1997; Family Affair, Verity, 1999.

    Life's Work

    Donned in designer fashions and diamond-encrusted jewelry, dazzling audiences at sold-out venues, he has a stage presence that can be likened to a rap star's. At closer examination, away from the bright lights and rolling cameras, his charisma gives way to a rather coy persona. Hezekiah Walker, the "Pastor of Hip Hop," has crossed a line that some praise and others disdain, by fusing traditional gospel and urban music. Still the Pentecostal minister, who has found national and international success as a preacher and a musician, attests that his mission is to save souls.

    Born Hezekiah Xzavier Walker, Jr. in 1962, he grew up in Brooklyn's Fort Greene projects. His parents headed a religious household and forbade Walker, his two brothers, and his two sisters from activities like dancing and watching movies; but music was one thing Walker did know. His love affair with music began when he was only a child. Walker joined a choir at the age of eight. According to www.gospelcity.com, he listened to music by Walter Hawkins, Shirley Caesar, and the Clark Sisters. By the time Walker was a teenager, he was writing songs for a small traveling gospel ensemble, but had also suffered the loss of his father, who died when Walker was only 14.

    Launched Ministries Through Choir and Church

    In 1985 Walker formed the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir (LFCC). The choir had only 12 members and according to www.lovefellowship.net, they sang wherever they could be heard--in parks, city projects, hospitals, and other humble locations. As Walker was struggling to find exposure for the choir, tragedy struck his family again. When he was 21, his mother Gladys, a social worker, collapsed and died on her way to church. "I was working at Xerox in Stamford and quit my job," he was quoted as saying in the New York Times. "I did not wash for days. This went on for two months. In 72 hours, I was about to get thrown out of our apartment. I had no money left. And then I prayed. When I finished, I sat down and wrote the song 'I'll Make It.'"

    Walker took "I'll Make It" to LFCC and it became the namesake of their first live-recorded album, which was released in 1986. To this day "I'll Make It" remains the choir's "signature song." Five years later, the LFCC choir signed with gospel label Benson Records and recorded its third album, Focus on Glory. In 1993, the choir recorded its chart topping fourth album, Live in Toronto, which quickly became known as LFCC's breakthrough album. New York City's mayor, David Dinkins, gave Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir the key to New York City and declared May 21st Love Fellowship Day.

    That same year Walker, who was known to combat crime, help the homeless, and visit the imprisoned, also became an ordained minister. In 1994 Walker opened a storefront church on Pacific Avenue with only eight members. Love Fellowship Tabernacle reached out to a congregation that was filled with drug addicts and prostitutes. The leaders of the church encouraged them to turn their lives around and accept salvation. "I want my church in East New York because this is a place so many others have abandoned," he was quoted as saying in the New York Times. According to www.lovefellowship.net, the East New York section of Brooklyn experienced a 30% drop in the crime rate during the church's first year. Walker's efforts were recognized when he received an award from the local police precinct for his work in the community.

    In the beginning, Walker was concerned with being able to keep the church and his choir separate. "The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir was doing so well by that time that I didn't want to start a church that drew off the choir's popularity," he was quoted as saying on www.lovefellowship.net. In fact, Walker initially decided there would not be a choir at the church. According to the website, the church had a small praise and worship team led by their music director, Joeworn Martin. After talented singers began attending the church and inquiring about a choir, Walker was once again faced with the issue of establishing a choir. This time he gave his blessing and in 1995, the Love Fellowship Tabernacle (LFT) Church Choir was born. The church choir, which began with 20 church members, is now 60 members strong.

    Won Grammy With LFCC

    As the choir grew at Love Fellowship Tabernacle, LFCC was blossoming into its own. In 1994 LFCC recorded Live in Atlanta at Morehouse College. The album featured the choir's first lady and Walker's wife, Monique, on lead vocals for "Let the Glory," as well as collaborations with BeBe Winans and Commissioned. According to www.webtunes.com, the concert was so well received that the audio and video recordings were placed in a 100-year time capsule of events at Morehouse College. LFCC's voice was being heard by masses, and in 1995 the choir walked away with a Grammy for Live in Atlanta at Morehouse College in the Best Gospel Album by a Choir or Chorus category.

    In the following years, LFCC recorded several more albums, received Grammy nominations in 1996, 1997, and 1998, and backed artists such as Whitney Houston and Hootie and the Blowfish. The choir also appeared on numerous compilation albums with vocal credits on albums including Shirley Caesar's Miracle in Harlem (1999), BeBe and CeCe Winans' Heaven (1998), KRS-One's 5 Boroughs (1999), and Sean "P Diddy" Combs' Forever (1999).

    Today LFCC has nearly 200 members. The choir recorded Love is Live! in 2001, and has toured with gospel legends, including The Williams Brothers, Dottie Peoples & the Peoples Choice Chorale, and Karen Clark-Sheard. LFCC served as a launching pad for several artists including Teddy Riley of Guy and BLACKstreet, and Cheryl "Coko," Gamble of SWV. "I feel a very special gratification in this choir," Walker was quoted as saying on www.connectionmagazine.org. "I've seen it grow from a dream to a wonderful, anointed reality. This is my baby and I have the joy and contentment of a father who's seen his children growing up strong, straight, true and doing great things for the Lord."

    Connected Religious and Secular Worlds

    While the world was watching LFCC, Love Fellowship Tabernacle was drawing its own attention. The church that began with a handful of members quickly outgrew its storefront property. In 1996 it relocated to a larger facility with seating for 850 on Liberty Avenue in Brooklyn. Only five years passed before the congregation had outgrown that facility, too. In 2001 the Liberty Avenue building was torn down and replaced with a $5.9 million building that seated 1,500 worshipers.

    Like the diverse compilations recorded on LFCC albums, Walker's congregation encompassed all walks of life. His niche seemed to be in attracting young people. Rev. Floyd H. Flake, pastor of the Allen A.M.E Church in Queens told the New York Times that Walker's title as an "outstanding gospel music artist" positioned him "to have a connection with young people." Flake continued, "[b]ut in the end, he delivers a standard Pentecostal message. He focuses on changing lifestyle, on issues revolving around what it means to be young and saved. His music brought people in, but he is a preacher with real theological content."

    Celebrities including, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, founder of Bad Boy Records, Russell Simmons, founder of Def Jam Records, gospel duo Mary Mary, and rappers Lil' Kim and Foxy Brown have been spotted sitting in the pews. Walker was quoted on www.gospelcity.com as saying that he believed his church was a place where celebrities could worship without worrying about being mobbed by fans. Though his congregation may raise eyebrows, Walker has maintained, "church is not [only] for the righteous. It's for the unrighteous and unholy to get answers. A person like Lil' Kim--these are the ones who need to be in church," he was quoted as saying in Entertainment Weekly.

    Though he is not apologetic for it, his flamboyance has not escaped recognition or criticism. "At least Reverend Ike told you it was about the money, about his Rolls-Royce," Troi Torain, a radio host at New York's WQHT-FM told the New York Times. Still, Walker has taken a different approach to possessing the finer things in life. "The kids today watch the hip-hop culture on videos, and the see the money, the jewelry, the diamonds, and the easy sex," he was quoted as saying in the New York Times. "They want to experience that. I am here to say that there is a penalty paid when you do not obtain these things the right way."

    Today Walker lives in a 22-room mansion that sits only blocks from his Brooklyn church. He and Monique have a young daughter named KyAsia. Love Fellowship Tabernacle now has three choirs: The Love Fellowship Crusade Choir, The Love Fellowship Celebration Choir, and the Love Fellowship Tabernacle Church Choir. All three are featured on the 1999 Family Affair, album, which served as a celebration of 15 years of music ministry for Walker.

    Despite his international success and worldly wealth, those who have made his acquaintance insist that he has not lost touch with his community. An article on www.terriewilliams.com stated, "He's as comfortable preaching to the drug dealer on the tough, urban streets of Brooklyn, New York as he is in welcoming [former] First Lady Hilary Rodham-Clinton to his church. And he may drive a Mercedes-Benz, but he's just as likely to be found in a pair of jeans or sweatpants cleaning the floors of his church after services."

    Whether he's known as a soul saver, the "Pastor of Hip Hop," a talented musician, or a man who does not quite fit the mold for preachers or gospel artists, Walker has no intentions of changing the way he does things. "I'd like to see my ministry expand to a broader market and appeal to a more secularized audience," he was quoted as saying on www.gospelcity.com. "It's about capturing more people for His kingdom. God's people already have a firm understanding of His Word. Our purpose is to provide a message to those who are lost.... But one thing is for sure; my style will never change."

    Awards

    Vision Award, 1994; Stellar Award for Best Music Video, 1994; Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA) Excellence Award for Contemporary Song of the Year for "Love Lifted Me," 1994; GMWA Excellence Award for Contemporary Choir of the Year, 1994; Grammy Award, Best Gospel Album by a Choir or Chorus for "Live in Atlanta at Morehouse College," 1995; Grammy nomination for Best Album by a Choir or Chorus, 1996, 1997, 1998.

    Works

    Selected Discographies

    I'll Make It,1987.
    Focus on Glory,1991.
    Live in Toronto,1993.
    Live in Atlanta at Morehouse,1994.
    Family Affair,1999.
    Love is Live!,2001.

    Further Reading

    Periodicals

    Entertainment Weekly, April 27, 2001.
    New York Times, April 21, 2001, p B1.

    On-line
    www.au.music.yahoo.com
    www.connectionmagazine.org
    www.gospelcity.com
    www.lovefellowship.com
    www.montrealmirror.com
    www.terriewilliams.com
    www.webtunes.com

    — Shellie M. Saunders


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