When you’re talking about great gospel families, be sure to add The Singletons to the list. These talented artists hail from Michigan’s state capital, Lansing, and are proudly following in the traditions established by some of Michigan’s gospel family pioneers including The Winans and The Clark Sisters.
Recognized by home-grown Stellar Award winning artists Marvin Sapp and Fred Hammond as “the real deal,” The Singleton’s debuted on Fred Hammond’s “In Case You Missed It…And Then Some.” They are back with their new Hammond produced project, “Better Than That,” on F Hammond Music/Verity/Zomba records, and trust us when we say it’s hot!
Detroit Gospel.com caught up with several members of The Singletons to find out just how they’re related, and talk about their new project, how they were “discovered” by Fred Hammond and more.
DG.com: Where is home for you guys?
The Singletons: Home is Lansing, Michigan — down from Detroit Michigan. Capital City! Football! Michigan State!
DG.com: There are eight of you. Are all of you from Lansing?
The Singletons: Yes, we’re all family and we are all blood related.
DG.com: How are you all blood-related?
The Singletons(Camilla): It goes a little something like this. When we do interviews we have to break it down. We originated with my dad, who is a pastor and his name is Bishop Singleton. Camilla, Andrea and Catrice, we are all sisters. Bishop Singleton, our father, has 12 children. My second oldest sister has four children in the group; those are our four nieces and nephews, which makes 7 members in the group. Then, my oldest brother has a son in the group, our nephew, which makes it 8 members in the group. We are known as a big family, so we kept the Singletons family name.
DG.com: How long have The Singletons been together doing music?
The Singletons (Camilla): The eight of us have been singing together since 2000. We all did separate things prior to that and we came together through Marvin Sapp, a good friend of ours. He had called one of the back ground singers at that time to sing with him. He knew our family sound, he wanted to get a truckload of us together and we started getting that family blend and do backgrounds for him. Then we went on a tour.
DG.com: I know Marvin is up in Grand Rapids, not too far from you all. As a matter of fact, there is an artist down here named Mark Holley. I heard him a couple of weeks ago on one of the radio stations and somebody mentioned you guys. He said, “Yes, I know them.” Are you all in the same denomination?
The Singletons: Yes, we’ve known him for years
DG.com: He had a lot of great things to say about you guys.
The Singletons: Oh yes, he’s good people.
DG.com: What can your fans expect from the new project, “Better Than That?”
The Singletons (Ryan): On “Better Than That” you can expect a lot of praise, a lot of worship and a lot of encouragement. Those three subjects are on the CD and you can partake of the blessings. That’s the biggest thing, it’s just good music. Those things that the praise team can sing, you can sing while in the grocery store, shopping, wherever.
The Singletons (Camilla): It’s basically what Ryan was saying. You can expect all those things and then some. First, and foremost, the ministry. People will be drawn to that. Then there’s something for everybody, not just praise and worship. There is a song on there that is a head-banger with Kirk Franklin. That’s like a high school, driving in the car song . . .
DG.com: …A song that you can “Kick-it” in the summer with the windows rolled down.
The Singletons: The words to the song are two-fold; they make you feel good while you’re driving. You’re bouncing and then the lyrics are so powerful. It says, ‘He’s always been there for me, let’s give Him the praise. No matter what you’re going through I’ll give him the praise regardless. Keep hanging on no matter what you’re going through. It might get rough (that’s the end of the song), but keep hanging on. Give Him the praise!’
DG.com: That’s right. That’s right.
The Singletons: Just keep holding on…Don’t loose your praise.
DG.com: How were you discovered by Fred Hammond?
The Singletons (Crystal): I’ll try to break it down as best I can. My mother, is the one who is the second oldest of the family. All of my aunts, different ones in the family, have grown up with different people. So some of my family grew up in Detroit and they were around The Winans, and The Clarke Sisters. Camilla did a lot of plays and stuff earlier on. We’ve been knowing Fred for years, before Commissioned days. So, over the course of time, him knowing us. He said that if we ever decided to do something, if we ever wanted to get serious about singing and wanted to do something professional, that he wanted to do something with us later on down the line. He was thinking about starting his own record label. So what happened was we ran into him when we were singing with Marvin Sapp in Detroit at the Gospel Fest. So when we saw him he said you guys are serious, are you ready to do something? So he offered us to be on his new label at the time. That’s how it all got started. He saw the eight people there with Marvin and he said let’s go with this.
DG.com: What’s it been like working with a gospel legend – Fred Hammond?
The Singletons (Ryan): It is phenomenal because there is a wealth of knowledge and wisdom to partake of working with him. He’s written hit songs like, “Blessed,” and “You Are The Living Word,” so to be able to sit with him in this type of setting. In the studio co-writing songs with Fred, and watch his producing expertise, it is phenomenal, because you download a lot of that.
The Singletons (Camilla): Well, you know Fred is just a legend. Now he’s down there in Dallas doing a DVD, at the Potter’s House. It was awesome. Those people know how to praise. It was just an awesome experience the whole DVD. Fred is just phenomenal. He has a gift that God has given him. You can’t even explain it sometimes. He has the favor of God on him. Even though he has moved out to Dallas, God is doing something in his life. Just to see him in the concert — he did a live recording there. It was absolutely awesome. He is at another level. It was just a great experience just to be in the company. So, he is not only a friend of ours, we look up to him in the ministry, about what he does and how God uses him. He has come, and we want to come full circle in our ministry also.
The Singletons: It was just a great experience just to be in his presence. So, he is not only a friend of ours, we look up to him in the ministry, about what he does and how God answers him. He has come, and we have come full circle in our ministry also.
DG.com: Who have been your musical influences, if any?
The Singletons: The Clarke Sisters, The Winans, the Hawkins Family, Andrae Crouch, Rance Allen. There are so many. Everyone that has preceded us, that has come before us and made gospel music what it is, has been great influences. Especially in the forms of families, The Clarke Sisters, The Winans, the Hawkins, it speaks to us, because it deals with the family blends, the quality and the unity of the family unit.
The Singletons (Ryan): I play the piano as well. One of my first songs I learned how to play was, “Oh Happy Day.” I listened to all the sounds of Andre Crouch, Edwin Hawkins, The Winans, The Clarke Sisters as well. I literally learned how to play by listening to all of Fred’s old RFC [Radical for Christ] albums. Listening to all that wealth of musical talent out there. You just want to download as much as possible.
DG.com: Any advice for new artists?
The Singletons (Ryan): Make sure you have a good foundation in a local church. Stay encouraged and just know that you’re called to do what you’re doing. Whether you have a record deal or not, it’s a great platform. But, God says if you are faithful over a few things then He’ll make you ruler over many things. So, it’s important to just know how to serve in the music ministry. I know a lot of times it can be challenging when you’re doing a lot of things, trying to get out there. But, before you can go to the nations you have to be faithful to the house. Be encouraged, hone your skills, undergird your local ministry as much as possible, and have accountability with your local ministry.
The Singletons (Camilla): I would say that one thing is that you know what God has called you to do. Don’t try to be somebody else. You’re only anointed to do what God has called you to do. [Artists] desire to do this and do that, but the fact of the matter is there is a lot involved in the industry. Waiting on God, seeing things happen… It can get frustrating; all that goes along with [dealing] with the industry as a whole. But our main experience is that we know we are called to a ministry and there is a purpose for what we’re doing.
We are called to what we are doing. You can’t get caught up in record labels, whether people lift you up or put you down. Where are you going with God, know that you are called, and don’t let nothing discourage you.
Don’t let nothing stop you when you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing. Above all, be who you are and let God anoint that!
DG.com: Alright! Preach sister!
You have a lot of fans in Detroit and a lot of supporters. Detroit Gospel.com wishes you much success. We’ll see you in Chicago, Illinois at the Gospel Music Festival on June 3rd, 2006. Check us out online. Lots of blessing and success on the album.