by Racquelle Proctor
Root Magazine: I heard you say you enjoyed the Brat Pack reunion and it took you back to when you were younger. I heard someone else say yesterday that there is a new emerging Brat Pack and your name came up, along with Jonathan Nelson and JJ Hairston. How do you feel about the possibility of being apart of a future Brat Pack? Is that something you would welcome?
Vashawn Mitchell: I would welcome it. It would definitely have to have a purpose behind it. I would need to sit down and have clear direction and a purpose behind it. Ok, Call us “this” but what are we going to do to give back to the community? What are we going to do to educate our younger artists coming up so that they don’t make the same mistakes we made. I have an idea to do a conference and that may work together if we do it. I was studying Elijah and Elisha in the bible and Elisha wanted a double portion of Elijah‘s anointing. Elijah could have actually given it to him but he said if you see what I’ve taken, you shall receive it The great thing about me, JJ, Myron and Jonathan is that we were around more seasoned artists and we saw how this business works. We got to see their success and their mistakes and we didn’t want to go too fast. That needs to be taught to our younger generation because what they see is instant hits and instant success. But they don’t understand how to be connected and how to learn to be around, watch and get to the next level.
Root: So back to Triumphant… I really like all of it. I saw that you had some guest on there. You mentioned “His Blood Still Works”. With this new project, what are you most excited about? Which songs do you look forward to sharing in a live setting?
Vashawn Mitchell: Well, “His Blood Still Works” features one of my favorite singers. As a kid I used to get up at 5am on Sunday Morning to drive to Detroit Michigan to Greater Emmanuel Church of God in Christ. There I could see Lisa Page-Brooks, Karen Clark Sheard, Dorinda Clark-Cole Live and in person. Michael Brooks on the organ, J Moss was in the choir. I was always a fan of the Clark Sisters, Lisa Page and Witness are some of my favorite singers. One of the first songs I ever did, that was independent, she sang on that CD. I wanted to write a song that would not only be timeless, but would also speak about the blood of Jesus. That was one of my favorite songs. I also love ministering the song “Chasing After You” and “ Nobody Greater”. “Triumphant” is just a fun song but it has a message that people can leave there singing it forever. I can go on and on.
Root: Western Pennsylvania has a conference every year called Creation Fest and they also have it in Colorado. I have been apart of this experience. They are very sincere in what they offer. Do you see yourself in that kind of setting?
Vashawn Mitchell: That’s where I’m at right now. Most of the music came when I was out on a cruise. When most of the people was on the cruise doing concerts and having fun, I was spending time with God, sitting on the beach and asking God; What are you saying at this time? He told me as clear as day, whatever I am worrying about, let it go. Its time to start building a relationships and birthing praise and worshippers. Its not about what you have on.
Its really about that authentic relationship with God. I sneak in and watch other cultures and Chris Tomlin and Michael W Smith are my favorites. They don’t really care about the clothes they have on but the whole worship experience. This is why they can pack out 100,000 seat arenas singing Gods music. I believe that’s the direction my music is going in.
Root: You mentioned a few of your influences earlier. Andre Crouch, Donald Lawrence. Who are some of your influences in regards to writing and your vocal style?
Vashawn Mitchell: My style of writing is a mix of how I grew up in Chicago but also music that I have loved over the years like Andre Crouch, Thomas Whitfield, Donald Lawrence, Kirk Franklin, Kurt Carr. My writing kind of incorporates all of them in one person. There are more I am sure. When I was younger I kind of wanted to be Kirk Franklin and the Family, so we kind of patterned ourselves after them. As a singer, it’s amazing because I used to sit at home and try and figure out who I sound like. I couldn’t find anyone. I found a place in praise and worship where it wasn’t important how many runs you did or how impressive your voice was but it was more of how sincere it was. So I kind of listened to singers that I thought was sincere, that may have not had all the runs and flare, but had the sincerity behind their voice. That’s where my style came from and transitioned over the years. I love being an artist but I know I am called to Sunday morning service. You don’t have to impress people with your voice in Sunday morning worship. You purposely try to get them to a place with your voice so they can receive the word of God and prayerfully they will come to Christ because of the whole worship experience.
Root: What other personal ventures do you have outside of singing? Clothing line or acting, maybe?
Vashawn Mitchell: I love clothes but I am open to whatever God has for me. I have been actively praying and asking God what’s next. I have been approached to do a play and considering that Acting was my major at Columbia College, I may consider doing the play. I do know that with the ministry God has given me, it is time to take it to the masses outside the walls of the church. We can sing and preach to each other back and forth, but there are some people who won’t come to church but will come see a play. So I do know there are some other opportunities and I would definitely consider acting on a musical stage. A big passion of mine is children and I have a crazy idea of purchasing a hotel where kids can live there and go to school and take classes. By the time they get out of this community they will be prepared for life. The biggest issue I dealt with when I was a Deputy Director of Community Services, is that youth would come to where I was and be focused and go back to their neighborhoods and go back to the same way of life. So a big vision is to have it like a one stop shop so when they leave there they are prepared to go to college and prepare for life.
Root: Where do you have time to do all of this in such a short time?
Vashawn Mitchell: A lot of it is burn out but a big part of it is priority. I prioritize a lot. I knew I wanted to do a new project but I didn’t know what God wanted me to do so I took time off. I took time to focus on the church and made sure they could function in the capacity of music without me. I trained people under me to take on the forefront because I knew I wanted to record in 2010. This way, when the project came out I would get the opportunity to promote the project and still keep up my responsibilities at my church. Over the process you kind of learn and grow. It’s a lot of prioritizing and seeking God. A lot of people couldn’t take time off for traveling for the church, but in this time God teaches you that you have to be faithful to your local body and then he will open up the windows. Purpose Driven Life and Rich Dad Poor Dad are my favorite books and I put both of those books together to help guide my life, along with the Bible of course. You want to make sure the message gets across and blesses the masses but you also want to make sure your business is right and you are able to take care of yourself and your family down the road. So it’s going from being just an artist a few years ago to now executive producing my own project. I have learned so much over he past three to five years and I know this new project will take me to the next level.
Root: What would you say to other newer or younger ministers of music in their local churches who have other dreams and aspirations and they feel pressure to serve the Pastor and the church. What would you recommend they do?
Vashawn Mitchell: You want to make sure you build a relationship covering with your Pastor. And that relationship not only talks about church ministry but that relationship also builds a vision relationship where the Pastor understands that you are not only connected to the church, but you also have visions and dreams you want to pursue as well. You must also be very strategic in how you approach those outside dreams and goals. I purposely put church first so that when it was time for me to do something else, it was a guaranteed yes. I am subject to authority and I believe that everyone should be covered. So whatever I do, I get the permission of my covering. Now if it gets to a point where that’s not going to happen and you know God has called you to the world, you’re probably not supposed to be at the church. But I believe if you do it right and you have an open line of communication and prayer, God will not only reveal to you when its time, but he will reveal it to your covering. I believe to this day that when I went to my Bishop in 2003 and told him God was pushing me to do my own solo project and he gave me his blessing, God had already spoken to him.
Root: So what is coming up in the immediate future? Is there going to be a tour?
Vashawn Mitchell: Yes, We are doing it a little different. We are purposely going to do a two week run after the project comes out and I will be in a whole bunch of cities from Atlanta to Chicago to Greenville to Charlotte to Jersey to California and back home. We have a few other dates as well so we will pretty much be on the road until the first week in September. God is really opening a lot of doors as it relates to this song and other projects. I am nervous and excited at the same time because I don’t know what God is going do but I know he is about to do something. I keep remembering what Marvin Sapp said a couple of years ago at the Stellar Awards. He said “I’m glad God did this when I was ready” and that’s the most powerful statement I’ve heard in the last ten years of my life. A lot of us want God to do stuff right away but I don’t get caught up on time and turn. When your turn comes, you want to make sure God has you ready to receive what he has for you. I am amazed and I do know something big is on the horizon!