Billboard #1 Artist Is Changing Black Gospel With Her Debut Album

Casey J Hobbs is nothing like the stereotypical black gospel artist. She doesn't squall, doesn't wail and doesn't even eat the fried chicken dinners that are often at the heart of church fundraisers. The 28-year old elementary school teacher's style is more of a fusion of Indie Arie or Chrisette Michelle meets the guitar-swinging Christian Pop star Israel Houghton than the usual gospel artists. And her debut album "The Truth" (Marquis Boone Enterprises /Tyscot Records), a live recording with an organic and unplugged vibe, has now pushed the self-proclaimed Flower Child and vegetarian to the head of the gospel music class.

For eight weeks this spring Casey J's inaugural radio smash "Fill Me Up" has held the top spot on Billboard Magazine's Gospel Airplay chart and three weeks at #1 on its Hot Gospel Songs hybrid chart (airplay, streaming and sales).

The twelve-track set opens with the engaging groove "Let It Be Known" (originally recorded by the British vocal ensemble Worship Central) that boasts a fusion of scintillating guitar and funky percussion for an uplifting declaration of faith and closes with arguably the album's most personal track, "Journal," an introspective ballad in which she asks God, "What if someone finds out the truth that I'm shattered, pieced together by the love of you, not worthy of your attention," It's a chilling examination of self-worth and affirmation. In between, there are hints of retro Arena Pop flair (think Duran Duran or Tears For Fears), a duet with Casey J's 84-year old grandmother, a balmy duet with gospel star Jason Nelson and traces of neo-soul that Casey J's warm but girlish croon bring to vibrant life. In the process, Casey J is changing the way gospel is viewed not only by the outside world but also from inside the church as well.

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