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Baltimore’s Bold & Blessed Anthony Brown : Wiles Magazine

Baltimore’s Bold & Blessed Anthony Brown

By Teryl Warren

I met Anthony Brown of the hit-making gospel group ANTHONY BROWN & group therAPy on a brief break from tour at the Hot & Cool Café. Nestled in the heart of the Leimert Park neighborhood of Los Angeles, Hot & Cool Café is a colorful, flavorful remnant of a proud and long-standing community that is rapidly, visibly changing.

Gospel artist Anthony Brown of Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy

And in the wake of generational tensions and various shifts in values, politics and culture, Anthony Brown – an eclectic mixture of a strong Christian with a Baptist upbringing combined with the soul and vision of a musical theater geek – is a colorful and flavorful reflection of a church that is also visibly changing.

“A lot of people who grew up in the church are falling away from the church,” he noted.  “Gen Xers and Millennials are passing up church to go to brunch, and I think a lot of the way the world sees the church is because we traditionally have tried harder to look like the church instead of being the church.”

Being a light in a world filled with darkness is one aspect of being the church. And another big part of being the church, according to Anthony Brown, is being authentic about who and what the church really is.

“The church is a hospital for sick people looking for a Savior – not a country club for people who have it all together,” he said.  “We’re all seeking light and hope and salvation. That’s why we come to church. I think if people saw the church that way, they wouldn’t feel the need to judge Christians so harshly and Christians wouldn’t feel the need to pretend to be perfect.”

On any given Sunday between September and December, you’ll typically find Anthony Brown in church – and then in the stadium cheering on his beloved Baltimore Ravens. But this Fall, ANTHONY BROWN & group therAPy are on tour – bringing their fresh, inspirational sound to a city near you. From #1 hits like “Worth” and “Trust in You” to tracks like the single “Real” featuring GMA Dove Award-winner Jonathan McReynolds, fans who flock will be filled with hope, love and light after leaving an ANTHONY BROWN & group therAPy show. But don’t look for them to be performing in the local mega church.

“The last show I did was at a winery,” Brown shared. “People who don’t know me questioned my decision to play there. But every venue we’ve played at has been a club.”

But if Anthony’s choice of venues seems a little unconventional for a gospel artist, he’s quick to point out that the method behind his madness is actually biblically based.

“There’s a very important scripture in the Bible to me where the Apostle Paul talks about ‘becoming all things to all men so that he might save some people.’ (1 Corinthians 9:19-23).  I’ve done concerts galore in churches. I feel it’s our responsibility to take the gospel to people who may feel threatened by going to a traditional church because they’ve been hurt, don’t feel comfortable, etc. You hear people say ‘Come as you are’ but we (the church) haven’t done a great job of living up to that statement. So our tour is allowing people to truly come as they are and get what they need.”

And what concertgoers will get is a seamless blend of beats, blues, jazz and gospel “with some Jesus slipped in.”

“I grew up in a traditional Baptist church setting, so that was my root. In school, I studied classical piano and theater.

As I got older, I learned about popular music and the influences of jazz and blues. All of that is reflected in my music. Everyone’s not gonna ascribe to traditional gospel music. Then there are people like my grandmother who only listen to traditional music and don’t want to hear what she calls the ‘Bubba bubba’ with all the beats and what have you. As an artist, I think it’s important to be well-rounded so you can reach more people.”

These days, ANTHONY BROWN & group therAPy are reaching people with their latest album 2econd Wind: Ready.

Debuting at #1 on on this week’s  Billboard Top Gospel Album chart and featuring catchy tunes like “Blessings on Blessings,” the new album reflects

Gospel artist Anthony Brown of Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy

Anthony’s own personal journey toward finding peace and life after burnout and fatigue. A journey with whom many – regardless of their faith – will, no doubt, relate.

“When you’re running a race for a long period of time, it’s natural for you to begin to feel things that make you say, ‘I have to stop running.’ Runners have to learn how to push through that to get to the point where they can run at peak performance with less exertion,” he explained. “Everybody in life is running a race of some kind – toward your dreams, your aspirations – your goals. And along the way, you will experience fatigue. In our culture today, people are literally throwing in the towel – especially in the church, where there’s been a huge resurgence of pastors who are committing suicide. People are walking away from the faith over fatigue. This project, for me, is about what happens when you do not give in to the feelings of failure and fatigue.”

So, what happens when you press past the point of doubt, past the point of worry, past the point of fear? You experience a 2econd wind.

“I was exhausted from recording, exhausted from touring, exhausted from the industry. And I love to sing, but I thought about quitting. I had to go back to my childhood when my father told me I was created for something greater. I had to get back to center, focus and say ‘Okay, let’s try this thing again.’ Now I’m running at top performance with less exertion. That’s what I want for people who hear my music. I think this record will be, for a lot of people, the soundtrack to their revival, their restoration, and their renewal.”

Now that Anthony Brown has found his 2econd Wind, he’s committed to helping others find salvation, peace, and contentment – both spiritually and physically. On the physical side, he’s launching a new fitness series in the coming months called “2econd Wind Walks and Runs” where people can meet up with Anthony in various cities and “run their race at their own pace.”

But the spiritual journey can begin right now –  wherever you may be. Take Anthony’s first step to contentment by counting your blessings.

“A lot of people look at blessings as cars, houses and material things. The more you live, the more you learn to value things that money cannot buy,” Anthony said. “The longer you live, the more you learn the true blessings are things like peace of mind and real joy. When we sing (our song) ‘Blessings on Blessings,’ that’s what we’re talking about.“

And the 2econd step to contentment? Limit social media.

“Our culture and social media forces you to compare yourself to everyone around you. You compare how you look, what you have. The Bible says ‘Don’t look to the left and to the right,’ (Proverbs 4:25-27) because if you compare yourself to others, you’ll always feel that you don’t measure up. But in reality, you are fearfully and wonderfully made. A designer’s original. It’s a blessing to know that.”

To learn more about Anthony Brown, please visit @ajblive.com

To keep up with Anthony Brown, please follow him on all social media handles at: ajblive.

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