J.J. Hairston, leader of Youthful Praise (Courtesy Photo)
J.J. Hairston, leader of Youthful Praise (Courtesy Photo)
J.J. Hairston, leader of Youthful Praise (Courtesy Photo)

By Jannah Johnson
Special to the NNPA from the Afro-American Newspaper

J.J Hairston is the leader of a contemporary gospel choir known as Youthful Praise. The group has been very successful within the gospel music industry and worked with a great deal of titans within the secular and non-secular music industry such as Destiny’s Child, Coko, Myron Butler and Shirley Caesar. The gospel group’s songs and album have frequently peaked at number 4 on the Billboard Music Chart and the group has been nominated for 2 Stellar Award nominations, a Soul Train Gospel award, and the GMWA award for Choir of the Year. They are currently preparing to release their next album, Amazing Love, later this year.

Hairston has been singing for most of his adult life but didn’t always have the intense passion for music he has now. “When I was younger I was actually into poetry, but it wasn’t until a young guy from Connecticut where I moved who was the leader of TFT, which became Youthful Praise, asked me to be a part of the choir and I became a teenager that I really started getting passionate about singing,” he said in an interview with the AFRO.

Youthful Praise has a unique sound, which Hairston attributes to their melding of the past and present, within the gospel music genre. “We have fused praise and worship and gospel while staying true to both. A lot of people feel like you have to stay traditional. We can’t alienate people who aren’t really traditional gospel music listeners. I want to keep gospel music alive and use my platform to push some younger artists into the spotlight.”

Hairston plans to “keep pushing I See Victory…and I’m going to make sure we push out individually our talented artists within Youth for Praise.” I See Victory, Youthful Praises’ last album, was released in 2014 and was created to inspire optimism in the face of trials within listeners. J.J’s favorite song off the album is You are Worthy because “it’s such an upbeat praise and worship something that just gives off the right vibes.”

J.J and his wife, Trina, are in the process of writing a book named Amazing Love to help counsel newlyweds and those considering getting married.

“J.J and I have been married for coming up on 21 years,” said Trina “We got married really young, a year or two out of high school and we didn’t get any counseling and we didn’t really know what we were getting into by committing to marriage. We went through different struggles but yet we survived through the test of time and through our faith, and through commitment to the marriage and each other we survived. This book is important because so many couples are looking for divorce as a quick fix and so many were taught how to get married but not how to stay married. Amazing Love is built around not only our love story but the belief that yes, marriage is supposed to last forever.”

Hairston said there are few reasons couples should get divorced. “Getting divorced is sometimes necessary in instances of abuse and things like that but otherwise I believe you can work through it whether its infidelity or financial issues if one of those two people is willing to work together the two of them can get through it,” he said.

When asked about the changing state of marriage in this country J.J said, “We have our own set of belief in our church but I’m also one of those guys that believes that you don’t have to change your beliefs for anyone. I want everyone to be happy with whatever they do but I believe in the Christian definition of marriage.”

Both J.J and Trina Hairston believe most couples skip a very important step before marrying today: counseling. “It’s crucial.  JJ and I, we didn’t have any idea how to commit and submit to each other. When someone is fresh and just considering getting married you don’t need to teach them how to love each other because those feelings are already there but you do have to go over with them what’s going to happen. When they don’t feel that love anymore, what going to happen when you walk in your house and you don’t like the person who you just committed to maybe two or three months ago? A counselor will take you through those things and give you tools to fix your relationship. Amazing Love is one of those books that you put on your shelf that you can go back to three or four years later, it’s a reference,” said Trina.

Amazing Love is slated to be released in the late fall of this year.

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