Stellar Award winner James Fortune & FIYA take gospel to troops
Jan 25, 2011
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – Three-time gospel music Stellar Award winner James Fortune is scheduled to headline Army Entertainment Division’s "Lift Up Your Spirit II" tour for troops in Korea and Germany with his band, "James Fortune & FIYA."
"For me, it’s just going to be amazing," said Fortune, who was honored Jan. 15 with 2011 Stellar Awards for Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year, Group Duo of the Year and Contemporary CD of the Year for "Encore," released Jan. 26, 2010.
"It’s the first time that I’ve been overseas to minister," Fortune said. "We see their sacrifice and hard work, but to be over there and be able to see them praising God and having a good time is going to mean a lot to me."
Fortune & FIYA, the female gospel group RiZen, and hip gospel performer Canton Jones will perform free shows at U.S. Army garrisons Feb. 9 in Hohenfels, Feb. 10 in Ansbach, Feb. 11 in Baumholder and Feb. 12 in Wiesbaden.
The gospel groups will be joined on stage in Germany by Sgt. Calvin Snead, a performer from the 2010 U.S. Army Soldier Show.
The tour will resume Feb. 17-22 at Camps Walker, Casey, and Humphreys and Yongsan Garrison, Korea.
Fortune said he hopes to deliver a "ministry of encouragement so they know how much we appreciate them, to lift their spirits, and to just really minister" to the Soldiers and their Families.
"I’ve actually toured with RiZen before, and Canton and I have done quite a few shows together," Fortune said. "He is high-energy, anointed, just really gets the place rocking when he’s on stage."
Canton "CJ" Jones has a Grammy nod, a Stellar Award nomination, three Gospel Choice Awards and four CDs in his portfolio. He has sold hundreds of thousands of albums and has several songs in regular rotation in the U.S. and abroad, including "Love Song," "Stay Saved" and "The Password."
Jones has shared the stage with hip hop heavyweights T.I., David Banner and Ludacris; established performers John Legend, Kirk Franklin and Patti LaBelle; and gospel powerhouses Smokie Norful, Dr. Bobby Jones and Kierra "Kiki" Sheard.
RiZen, a Stellar Award winning duo featuring sisters Adriann and Aundrea Lewis, was originally formed in 1995 as an eight-member praise and worship team at New Galilee Baptist Church in Saginaw, Mich., where their father, Luciose Lewis, serves as pastor. Only the sisters remain, and they signed with Verity Records to release their third CD, entitled "FREE."
Adriann and Aundrea were reared by a preacher who allowed them to listen to all kinds of music. Their early exposure to various musical styles continues to influence their sound. RiZen won Stellar Awards in 2004 for Best New Artist and 2006 for Best Traditional Group/Duo.
"Our mother was a musician, so she listened to all genres of music," Adriann explained. "To this day, I still love R&B artists. Some of my favorites are Tina Turner and Mary J. Blige. However, we grew up Baptist, so that’s all we knew when it came to our own singing and recording – and that’s where we get our signature sound."
"We grew up with the Gospel Music Workshop of America," Aundra said. "Through our mom, who is a piano teacher and choir director, we were introduced to the music of seasoned traditional gospel artists like Rev. Charles Nicks, Dr. James Cleveland, Albertina Walker, and Dorothy Norwood. However, we do love R&B, jazz and country music.
"Growing up, our parents allowed us to go to concerts, like New Edition and LL Cool J, and we were able to buy albums. We still have our Michael Jackson albums to this day. So even though our musical foundation is the Baptist church, we have a range of influences that occasionally pop up in our music."
Fortune feels fortunate to headline such a talented tour.
"It’s going to be a phenomenal show," he said. "I’m really looking forward to it."