Native Detroiter Mike Mindingall has written songs for some of Gospel’s biggest names including Fred Hammond, Dorinda Clark Cole, Chris Jones, Mark Hubbard and many others. His keyboard stylings can be heard on some of Gospel’s most noted recordings including those of legends Thomas Whitfield and Aretha Franklin. During the Easter season, one of his songs, “He’s Alive” is sung by choirs around the world.

…And now for something completely different! Three years in the making, Mindingall is releasing Praisestrumentals on Crystal Rose Records in association with The Mindingall Firm, LLC.

Mindingall’s studio is around the corner from the office on the 12th floor of the Masonic Temple. Great gospel music can be heard coming from the studio daily. We caught up with MIke one afternoon to discuss the new project. What can listeners expect from your new CD Praisestrumentals?

Mindingall: First of all, they can expect good music because it took me three years to do this project because I just didn’t want to put any type of songs together just to say I had a project. Each song is a personal testimony. You know, some things that I’ve been going through. Each song was hand picked. That’s why it took so long for me to do. I wanted it to mean some things, touch some people’s hearts. I’ve already got feedback already from people going to my website just listening to songs. I’ve got a song called “A Quiet Praise”. One lady said she had some quiet time listening to my song as she just kept rewinding it and playing it. My aunt works for a law firm and she said her boss could hear her in the other room just listening to the project. A buddy of mine, I grew up with was just here from Florida. He lives in Orlando, and he is an engineer for Disney. As soon as he got it, he just started playing it. We went over his sister’s house and played it, and his sister called him yesterday to tell him that she could not stop thinking about that project. He used to live here and work with Ford. He was out with his buddies and played it, and he said they loved it. So I’m getting good feedback, and it let’s me know that the songs are really ministering to people. One of the biggest comments that people are making is that they didn’t know that gospel could sound like this; it’s a trendsetter; it’s not your normal instrumental project. It’s fusion; a little Jamaican reggae; a little classical. It’s a genre of music that everyone can relate to. Whether you like smooth jazz – I got that. I have Randy Scott playing on the project. He’s a sax player that is well known here in the city. So there is something there for everybody. Who are you trying to reach?

Mindingall: I’m trying to reach everybody that’s why I put different genres of music on there so I can go to church and play praise and worship tunes, or go to a Gospel Fest, or a smooth jazz fest. I can do the same music, but it’s gospel. I want to reach everybody. That’s why I [incorporated] different genres of music so that it can do that. Who are some of your musical influences?

Mindingall: Definitely Thomas Whitfield, who, nationally gave me my exposure with my song, “I’m on the Battlefield,” which was on Douglas Miller’s “Living on the Top” Project. This was my first nationally released project that I got some royalties. Herman Harris was another mentor of mine who really gave me some exposure in the industry, but it was being on the road with Whitfield that shaped and molded me in how to do it because he was “The Maestro.” Everybody knew him. Just to be playing with him was an honor. Why do you do what you do?

Mindingall: I don’t do it for man, nor for the approval of peers. (Chuckles) If that had been the case, I would have been gone a long time ago. “Player-haters” are here in the city; that’s the truth about it. Many out here do not want you to succeed. The Bible says a man is not honored in his own land. That’s true. People don’t want you to succeed. That’s why you see a lot of cats going down the drain. They are looking for somebody’s approval. My approval is through God. He is the one who gave me the gift and gives me the inspiration. My thing is to inspire someone else through gospel music. It is inspirational. It is uplifting, and that’s why I do it. It touches the heart. Any advice for new artists?

Mindingall: You have to do your homework, and you have to know how to act on the stage. The thing about Motown was that even though the artists were new, they knew how to act. They were on an assembly line; they knew how to dance and how to dress. That’s what we need in the industry now. We need that type of commitment. A lot of these young cats haven’t paid any dues. Oscar Hayes and I were talking about that one day. Cats that learned under us, that we gave opportunities to, will walk right past us today, and all because you’ve learned a couple of more chords. ‘Man, you learned from me, so you’ve got to pay your dues!’ Everybody has to pay dues. People just don’t come up overnight; that’s rare, unless you’re an American Idol. We don’t have a Gospel American Idol. So you have to pay your dues, and you have to respect those that came before you first of all. That’s my advice to them. Respect the ones who came before you and that opened the door for you. If it weren’t for some of us, a lot of these young cats today wouldn’t have any opportunity to make money. So, I respect the cats that came up before me like Carol Coles, Royal Stanfield and all the other cats that I listened to and took from to develop what I have now. In the credits on my CD, I never forget two cats that really helped me: Denard McClary and Robert Anderson. It won’t happen overnight. Learn your craft. The Bible says be skillful. He didn’t say anything about having no talent! Playing skillful means you have to know your craft.

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(Release Date: June 6, 2006)

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