Multiple Stellar Award-winner Jonathan Nelson has had a large impact on contemporary praise and worship music in a short time. With his group, Purpose, he has released three albums since 2003—Every Thing You Are: Live in Baltimore, Right Now Praise and Better Days. His top 10 smash hit, “My Name Is Victory” from his sophomore album, Right Now Praise, spent 65 weeks on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart and won him a GMA Dove Award nomination as Best New Artist of the Year. The single was also cited as the Most Singable Song of the Year by Gospel Today magazine (2008).
The chart-topping singer, songwriter, and worship leader has earned a reputation as a leader in contemporary praise and worship music with songs that inspire and encourage people. He continues to bring his message of winning through Christ in his new album, Finish Strong, which is scheduled to be released in April, 2013. The album was recorded live on May 19, 2012, at the Kingdom Worship Center (Bishop Ralph L. Dennis) in Nelson’s hometown, Baltimore, Maryland. This is Nelson’s first CD project on his new label, Karew Records.
The album’s title track, “Finish Strong” is the first single from the CD. The song, which was penned by Nelson and Kenneth Shelton, captures the message of the whole album—whatever God has for you to do, you must continue to go after it, never give up and finish strong. It is a universal message that will appeal to a broad audience. “I hope people will finish strong in whatever they are assigned to do in life,” says Nelson. “It isn’t about how well you start, but it is about how well you finish. You must run the race and do it with patience and endurance because it’s not going to be easy. You’re going to have some road blocks, detours and delays, but you have to finish strong.” Nelson also hopes to use this song as a platform to promote healthy living, encouraging people to get their “minds, bodies and souls” intact.
Nelson has put his stamp on urban praise music as a songwriter. He co-wrote most of the songs on Finish Strong, which has something for every musical taste, from traditional church songs, to praise and worship, to choir songs. He has penned tunes for JJ Hairston and Youthful Praise, Stephen Hurd, Maurette Brown Clark and DeWayne Woods. One of Nelson’s biggest songs to date is Youth For Christ’s congregational ballad, “The Struggle Is Over,” which spent 12 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart in 2006. Other hit songs written by Nelson include Bishop T.D. Jakes’ “My Praise Is My Weapon” and “Manifest.” Donald Lawrence’s recording of Nelson’s song, “Healed,” was the first break-out hit for Nelson, earning him a Stellar Award for Songwriter of the Year in 2006.
Nelson is finding much support for his music at his new home at Karew Records. When he signed with Karen Clark Sheard and Bishop J. Drew Sheard in January, 2012, he became the label’s first artist who was not a member of the family. “It feels like family, and it’s a great partnership,” he says. And Nelson knows a thing or two about family businesses. All of his family is involved in ministry in some capacity, and his twin brother, Jason, is a pastor and a Stellar Award-winning recording artist with RCA Inspirational, whose current single, ”Shifting the Atmosphere,” is topping the gospel charts.
For Nelson, whose father is a pastor, music has always been a part of his life. Nelson declares that the music bug is part of his family’s “spiritual DNA,” noting that even his children, nieces and nephews are drawn to music. He attended the Baltimore School of the Arts, and continued his vocal training at Morgan State University. He and his family currently live in the Ft. Lauderdale area of Florida, where he serves under Bishop Henry Fernandez as the minister of music and worship leader.
Nelson is looking forward to the release of Finish Strong. He hopes to take his message across the country and around the world. “My desire is to really encourage and inspire people everywhere to finish strong,” he says.