Born into a family of 18 children in St. Louis, Missouri, Ms. Turrentine-Agee moved to Detroit in 1962, where she currently resides. Ms. Turrentine-Agee began singing with her father when she was three and has sung with many gospel groups including the Gospel Echoettes and The War On Sin Choir. Her release, “God Did It,” was a big success receiving several nominations and awards. Her next project, “It’s Already Done” (on AIR Gospel Records), won a 2004 Stellar Award for “Traditional Female Vocalist of the Year.” Ms. Turrentine-Agee most recent project is entitled, “Go Through.” It was a great pleasure to interview such a talented woman of God. I really had an enjoyable time doing the interview. In fact, this was my very first interview ever.
Detroit Gospel.com: How long have you been singing gospel music, and how have you seen the gospel industry change since you first started?
Evelyn Turrentine-Agee: Well, I’ve been singing gospel music, I could say, all my life. My first memories were about three years old, my dad was a quartet singer in St. Louis where I was born and raised. I was about two or three years old when he’d take me in church and hold me up and let me sing to the people. It got that there was a demand. People started asking me to sing. So I’ve been singing since I was three years old.
Things have gone from being real real church and churchy to expanding to the interest of people who don’t go to church; people who don’t have a real relationship in the church. Gospel music has expanded, so, if the people don’t come to church then the church goes to them, and I think that’s a good thing. My love has remained for the real church house and the real Sunday morning gospel. I guess now they call it traditional gospel. That’s still my love and style of music. But, I think we have changed for the best, because we have to go to the vineyard and get those that aren’t coming in, and compel them to come.
DG.com: I’ve heard that your sons have started their own recording careers, how do you feel about their continuing on with your legacy?
Evelyn Turrentine-Agee: I am ecstatic about it. My sons have been with me every since they have been big enough. They are my band, they’re my music directors, they’re my background vocalists, they’re my writers, they write, they produce, they play the music for me, and perform it with me. So, for them to have the opportunity to do some of the things that they want to do, because they’ve expanded their style, they’re style is more progressive, more contemporary than my style, and they got a lot more in them than just the traditional gospel that I bring. So, I’m thankful to God that they have the opportunity to express themselves. I believe that they are continuing on with my legacy, the same as I continued my daddy’s, and my daddy continued his mother’s. My grandmother was a singer too. My daddy was a singer. Now, my children are continuing my legacy and their children are continuing there’s.
My granddaughters have just recorded an album with a group called “Jes’Us” (pronounced: Just Us). They are also recording, doing different things from their dad. They’ve gone more contemporary than my son, far more contemporary than me; they’re urban contemporary.[Editor’s Note: Jes’Us was recently part of the Women On Fire For God gospel concert. Click for photos of the ladies in action.]
DG.com: Do you believe that today’s rising artists will live up to the legacy of the gospel artists that have gone before them?
Evelyn Turrentine-Agee: I believe with each new generation it’s the same God, the same gospel, but it has to be delivered in a new kind of way. Each generation has its own different style and ways of receiving. So, I believe with each generation there needs a kind of change and today’s music is geared towards meeting the needs of people today.
DG.com: You worked with Alexander “Asaph” Ward [veteran gospel producer who has also produced artists such as Twinkie Clark and Smokie Norful] on the upcoming, “Go Through” project. How was that experience? Did you work with other producers or writers that we might know on this project?
Evelyn Turrentine-Agee: That was an awesome experience. As a matter of fact, it continues to be an awesome experience because it has started a relationship with Asaph and me. Because now we talk and he helps me in so many other areas. Helping me to understand a lot about the business; it just started a new relationship for me. It was awesome watching him work and experiencing him work. He is a major producer, he’s a great guy, and he’s a professional; truly professional at what he does, and he really captures the best of me, and I do believe that he got the best of me in this project.
I didn’t work with any other producers on this project. Asaph did all of the production. One of my sons, Herald, wrote the title song and assisted in some of the background vocals for the live set.
DG.com: What can we expect on this project? How is it different from or the same as the Stellar Award winning “It’s Already Done?”
Evelyn Turrentine-Agee: You can expect an expansion of what you’ve seen of Evelyn. I always say I am a quartet singer. I’m all of that, but I’m a little more than that. There’s more to me. That’s what I hope people will see. There is some praise and worship, there is a little bit that hasn’t been seen before.
It’s different because it’s got a little more praise and worship type of feel then the “It’s Already Done” project. It’s the same because of “Evelyn.” Like my granddaughter asked me, “Why do you sing so hard all the time?” On this project I’m Evelyn all over again. I give it everything I’ve got and people say, ‘you sing so hard!’ Well, that’s how I do. I serve God.
DG.com: What is the release date for “Go Through?” Will you be touring after its release?
Evelyn Turrentine-Agee: On Tuesday, April 26th, “Go Through” was released in retail. I am touring now.
DG.com: What other things can we expect from Evelyn Turrentine-Agee, in the months and years to come?
Evelyn Turrentine-Agee: Well, I asked God to do something for me years ago. If he’d open the doors for me, I’d like to open the doors for other people; and as a result, my sons have already begun. I’ve been trying to help them get out there with a major market. Some attention has already been paid to them, and we’re expecting to release a new album of one of my son’s this June. We are releasing his album on our record label, Wash Records. My first album, “God Did It,” and a project by my husband, were also released on this label. So, yes, the new album will be here in June.