TGJ: Hey Josh! Thanks so much for taking the time!
JR: No problem at all!
TGJ: So, let’s get right to it. After winning season 5 of BET’s ‘Sunday Best’ we’ve seen your life sped to a dizzying pace. How are you adjusting to your new schedule?
JR: It’s going well so far, I actually enjoy it. [I'm] traveling from city to city and seeing new people – especially people I’ve looked up to for so many years. It’s amazing for me to be so young and already doing what I’ve always wanted to do. It’s incredible!
TGJ: Good to hear! Now that leads us to your debut album ‘Well Done’ (which dropped December 4th). Tell us what we should expect from it.
JR: It turned out great. The album has 7 songs from the show with the lead single ‘We Expect You’. Of the songs on the album, that one is probably the one people knew of the least. So, most people my age will probably think it is an original song, instead of a cover. That’s why we chose it as the lead single.
As far as producers, I got to work with James “Big Jim” Wright (Beyonce, Mariah Carey, Justin Bieber). He really gave me the opportunity to put myself into the music and personalize it. He created a very comfortable and positive atmosphere and it was so fun!
TGJ: What’s been the feedback on the album?
JR: Well, I’ve already gotten news that it’s #1 on Amazon and #3 on Itunes! So, that’s really incredible. People are really being supportive.
TGJ: Congratulations on that!
JR: Thanks so much.
TGJ: We know “Big Jim” was an important part of the creative process in the making of ‘Well Done’. But, in “personalizing” the album as you said, how much were you involved in the artistic direction of the project?
JR: With this album, not so much because the album is compiled of remakes and covers. But, I’m already working on music for the next project and I’m trying to be as involved as I possibly can. I want to know as much about my craft as possible. That’s one thing Kim Burrell taught me and emphasized. You have to not only know your craft, but master it was well.
TGJ: We’re sure fans will be pleased to know you’re already hard at work on the next project. When should we expect that?
JR: Definitely in the coming year. We’re looking at some time in the spring, probably March or April.
TGJ: Now, as with many interviews, we have a segment called “Five From Fans” where we received five questions from our readers for you. Are you ready?
JR: Yep, let’s do it!
TGJ: 1) If you weren’t a singer, what would you be doing?
JR: I would be in college studying music.
TGJ: 2) What celebrity have you met so far that’s had u the most “starstruck”?
JR: Karen Clark Sheard. I did a concert in Virginia with her and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. I held [my excitement] for as long as I could, but after I performed all I could think was “Wow, that’s Karen Clark Sheard“.
TGJ: 3) Who was your favorite judge on ‘Sunday’s Best’? Cece Winans, Yolanda Adams, or Donnie McClurkin?
JR: I would have to say Cece. All three of them are incredibly anointed people and they gave great advice. But, Cece was the one that really pushed me. I say that because she never gave me “too much” after my performances. She was always so encouraging.
TGJ: 4) Who has been your favorite ‘Sunday’s Best’ winner so far?
JR: LeAndria Johnson without a doubt.
TGJ: 5) What do you feel you bring to the gospel music arena that wasn’t there before you?
JR: To be honest, I feel I bring me. I just worship God like I know how. So, all I can bring is Joshua.
TGJ: Thanks for that! Now switching gears a bit, some viewers have expressed mixed feelings about the concept of a “gospel talent show” (like ‘Sunday’s Best’). The implication, of course, being that people are being “judged” on their ability to praise. What are your thoughts on that?
JR: I don’t believe the show is meant to “judge the praise” of a person, but more so judge on the fact that there are certain factors people look for in a gospel artist. First, there is anointing. Second, there is professionalism. What you are actually being judged on is your learning ability, ability to be taught, control of your voice, and knowing how to take a song you may not even like and navigate it.
Most importantly, you have the “quality of the performer”. It’s very important that you connect with the audience. I remember times where we forgot it was a competition because our main goal was to praise and give God glory.
TGJ: So, in that, how “faithful” are you to the gospel genre? Thinking long-term, do you ever foresee a desire to experiment with other genres? Not just sonically, but in content as well?
JR: No, not at all. Gospel is where my heart is. I’ve always felt there is no better way to use gift from God, than for God.
TGJ: People admire you so much because you are so talented, yet so young. But, as such, how do you balance wanting to be “a kid” (on social media, etc.) with the pressures of upholding a certain image as a public figure – especially that of a gospel singer?
It’s not too hard to me because one thing I believe is that although I’m known, I do have my kid moments. I do love to have fun, but there is always that boundary of “is what I do pleasing to God?” It’s not hard for me. I just believe you can follow the Word of God, have fun, and still be holy.
TGJ: Last, but not least, what advice do you have for up-and-coming singers looking to break into the gospel industry?
Seek God for it and in seeking God, don’t give up. We can do all things through Jesus. Pastor Donnie [McClurkin] always told me, “Your gift will make room for you.” When you seek God for His purpose for you and your gift, walk in that purpose and He will open doors for you that no man could’ve ever opened…or close for that matter.
Interview by: Q.R. Taylor (That Grape Juice US)