Hitting the right note

Local gospel artist achieves his reality through music

By: Sherri Kolade | Farmington Press | Published January 14, 2015

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FARMINGTON HILLS — On any given Sunday morning, you could find Jason Bethel lifting his hands up in worship to God, or creating a melody of praise while playing the piano in his parents’ Detroit church, Word of Life Christian Center.At 35 years old, Bethel is still praising, but in a new format, with the release of his new single, “You’re God.”

The Farmington Hills husband and father of two — born-and-bred in Detroit — is ready to spread his message from Detroit to Atlanta and beyond through the jazzy, spirit-filled song, part of his first full-length CD, “All In.”

“You’re God” is the songwriter and producer’s first national release. Bethel, not new to the music industry, released extended-play single releases before, but not as a full album.

“Music is able to bring everybody together,” Bethel said during a Jan. 5 interview. “I’m glad to hear those who have heard it and how it is touching them.”

Bethel, who also works at DTE Energy, has worked with or played for artists such as pastor and gospel musician Rance Allen, “Sunday Best” gospel singing competition winner Tasha Page-Lockhart and gospel artist Kierra “Kiki” Sheard.

As a vocal jazz and choral major at Ohio-based Tiffin University and a member of “Up In The Air,” Bethel comes from a musical family, which includes an aunt who played with Parliament Funkadelic, headed by George Clinton.

Bethel, also minister of music at his parents’ church, said he was inspired to create his single out of the praise and worship services there.

“There is more (to) going to church than saying a couple ‘hallelujahs,’” he said.

Bethel said that it was pretty much inevitable that he would go into music, especially with how he was raised.

“My father always said something that stuck with me: ‘Your product is your environment.’ I’ve been around preaching, the word, music my whole life,” he said. “This is what I’m supposed to do: bring forth good music for the world.”

“You’re God” is a part of a maxi single with three songs, now on his album, which came out last December.

In 2013, Bethel formed J. Bethel & Spoken For, which includes a group of singers.

On Jan. 30, Bethel will head to Atlanta to promote his music, and on Feb. 3, he will be featured on the the Illinois-based inspirational Tri-State Christian Television Network, recorded locally in cities including Detroit.

He added that his song also stemmed from when he first married his high school sweetheart at 23 years old, coming home from college, looking for work to provide for his family, and having a young son.

“With my life, just the ins and outs of everyday marriage, just so hectic, I learned to lean on him more,” Bethel said of God. “(My) parents ... really taught me how to live for God. That is how the song arrived.”

Bethel’s mother, Doreen, who with her husband has pastored the church for more than 25 years, said their son was somewhat of a musical prodigy.

She said that once her husband needed someone to play the keyboard the next Sunday after a musician left, “and he did,” Doreen said of her son.

“From there, he took off… and felt a leading from the Lord to pursue music,” she said.

Bethel became his church’s music director at 12 years old and the church pianist at 14; he has written songs since the age of 10.

At around 26 years old, Bethel said, he wrote the single, but it took several years for it to come to fruition.

He said his songs are appealing because they reach people without feeling too “churchy.”

“The laid back mood is so different,” Bethel said. “I feel that lyrics are very important and didn’t want it to be an everyday chant or just a song, but the words exemplify everything.”

Bethel said that through the grace of God and his own dreams, he is living his purpose, which everyone has.

“I believe that God gives you a purpose … and I know my purpose is to follow in my parents’ footsteps. He (God) gives us all types of talents not just to sit on, so in due time it can be manifested.”

Bethel added that for his two “wonderful boys,” he is leaving a “legacy for them.”

Bethel’s wife, LaVonnta, 35, said recently that leaving something for their children is “very important” to her family and herself.

“Being in the ministry where our parents are pastors, my parents are ministers, we are building something that actually started with his father,” she said.

LaVonnta said that at 12, she too was into music, playing percussion instruments.

“I knew that music, as well as the speaking, ministering part, was a big part of where God wanted us to go in ministry,” she said. “I really believe this (album) is a platform to get us there.” 

With his music, Bethel said he hopes to “be a light for Detroit.”

“There is no demographic that I am aiming for,” he said in his press release.  “I believe God has called me to bring people into the Kingdom. Also, I believe He’s anointed me to give others a platform to use their gifts and talents. But ultimately, it’s about keeping Jesus as a focus in Gospel music. That’s it for me.”

For more information, connect with J. Bethel & Spoken For on Facebook and Twitter.

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