“Nobody Greater” songwriter Darius Paulk releases first digital CD

The last three years have been a whirlwind for Atlanta, Ga.-based, Dove and Stellar Award nominated songwriter, Darius Paulk. Singer Vashawn Mitchell recorded his tune “Nobody Greater” and watched it rise to No. 1 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart and spend a solid year in the Top 10 in 2010-2011.

“Darius wrote a song that captured and changed the hearts of so many lives, and he’s only scratched the surface,” Mitchell says in a news release. “The world will soon experience more of his heart of worship.”
That experience is coming Aug. 14 when Paulk will release his first digital EP, “Lyrics & Melodies”, a five-song cyber album that will be available on iTunes and other online music stores. It may surprise some that Paulk is a singer, but he’s been doing it all of his life.

 “God has invested so much into me and I want to exhaust every area of gifting that he’s blessed me with and singing happens to be one of them,” he says. “I’ve always admired singer- songwriters such as Walter Hawkins, Thomas Whitfield, Twinkie Clark, Andre Crouch, and Donald Lawrence, so this is me living out the dream I’ve had since I was a child.”
Those influences are evident on songs such as the majestic ballad “He is God” that’s cut from the same cloth as the best songs by Crouch and Whitfield. Paulk’s tenor warmly fills the nooks and crannies of the tune rather than overpowering it, allowing the lyrics and melody to shine instead of having them overshadowed by vocals. “It’s a worship ballad that is dear to my heart,” he adds. “I wrote it a day after I got held up at gunpoint after the Stellar Awards last year. It kind of falls in line with the current trend.”
The up-tempo “This I Give” employs a charmingly sophisticated urban AC and smooth jazz vibe that makes it a refreshing vehicle to express the inspirational lyrics. Paulk, who wrote “Deeper” for Marvin Sapp’s current No. 1 CD “I Win”, is asked whether he feels pressure to deliver another massive hit like “Nobody Greater” and his response is definitive.

 “I never gauge my songs off of one another because they all come from different experiences and the true success for me is not how well it charts, but how well it provokes the listener to change for the better,” he adds. “’Nobody Greater’ was massive, but I didn’t write it with the thought this is gonna be a radio smash. I wrote it with the thought that everyone that hears this will know there’s not another power Greater than our God.” 

For more information on Darius Paulk, visit him online at www.dariuspaulk.co.

Singer-songwriter Gabriel S. Hardeman dies

Gabriel S. Hardeman

According to a recent news release, singer-songwriter Gabriel S. Hardeman, 68, best-known for co-writing R&B star Stephanie Mills’ 1987 #1 hit “I Feel Good All Over” and Teddy Pendergrass’ “Truly Blessed”, died on Saturday, June 16 in the Philadelphia area from complications of interstitial fibrosis. He was diagnosed with the illness in May 2000 but with medication functioned well until 2005, when he started intermittently using a portable oxygen tank. His condition improved after a 2009 single lung transplant at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital, but he recently began contacting friends to say that his prognosis was grim and to say goodbye.
Born December 13, 1943, in College Park, Ga., where his father was an African Methodist Episcopal pastor. He kicked off his music career by singing and playing piano at his dad’s church. His parents moved the family up north for better financial opportunities when he was still a youth. They settled in Harrisburg, Penn., before finally moving to Philadelphia where Hardeman graduated from William Penn High School.
After graduation, he briefly joined R&B band, the El Dantes, before going off to West Virginia State College as a physical education major. Upon graduation, he worked as a physical education teacher, and it’s during that period that The Gabriel Hardeman Delegation was born. 

“There was a talent show, and I wanted to get some kids together and do some gospel music,” he told Rashod Ollison at Philadelphia Inquirer in 2001. “’Oh Happy Day’ was hot then. I had about 40 kids, and the next thing you know, word got around and we had like, 80 kids in the choir.”
They started performing throughout the year, but he’d lose his best singers as they graduated from high school, so he decided to create an independent group and named it The Delegation in 1973.

“We were doing then what folks like Kirk Franklin are doing now,” he told the Inquirer. “We would go into these conservative churches, and they would tell us we were doing the devil’s music.” The group signed to Savoy Records, where they recorded hit albums such as the self-titled LP that featured the radio hit “Feels Like Fire” and earned a Grammy Award nomination.
Hardeman became disenchanted with the politics of the gospel world and retired from recording for a while. However, he and his wife, Annette Hardeman (from the disco era trio, First Choice, best known for “Dr. Love”) began to write songs together. They wrote Stephanie Mills’ #1 R&B hit “I Feel Good All Over,” Mikki Howard’s #2 R&B smash “Love Under New Management” and a “This Is the Last Time” and “Truly Blessed” for Teddy Pendergrass. They also did backing vocal sessions for R&B acts such as Patti Labelle, Phil Perry and Phyllis Hyman.
Eventually, the industry demand for them to write more salacious R&B music conflicted with their faith, and they devoted themselves to writing and producing gospel music. Aside from writing for gospel acts such as Edwin Hawkins and the Wilmington-Chester Mass Choir, Hardeman recorded his own albums for the Messiah and Birthright labels before making a comeback with the Stellar Award nominated To the Chief Musician CD in 2001. Hardeman returned to Atlanta in 2003 to take care of his elderly parents, and he became a pastor in the Belleview Circuit AME Churches in the city. He returned to Philadelphia in 2008 to take advantage of the better medical facilities in the city.
He is survived by his wife, Annette Hardeman, and their son, Michael.


Music leader exits Atlanta’s Ebenezer Baptist Church

Keith Williams

Keith Williams, EPM Music Group recording artist and senior vice president, has left his post as director of Music and Arts at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta, Ga., where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. served as pastor at the height of the ’60s Civil Rights Movement. His final service there took place on Easter Sunday.

“This was not a sudden decision,” says Williams in a news release, who will continue to live and work in the Atlanta area. “We’ve been planning this transition for months so that I can focus on my new duties as an executive with EPM Music Group and also so that I can finish my CD and fulfill the call I have to the national musical arena.”

Williams has been juggling many roles over the past year with his church duties, helping push Earnest Pugh’s smash hit “I Need Your Glory” to No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Chart and signing music veteran Chrystal Rucker as the first artist on EPM Music Group. At the same time, Williams has been sorting through songs and writing tunes for his August 14 sophomore CD release “Introducing Keith Williams.”

Williams is a classically trained pianist and vocalist. He’s spent the last two decades as a worship leader at prestigious churches across the United States such as Ebenezer A.M.E. Church in Fort Washington, Maryland,  and the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Williams’ style is a cross between the legendary Douglas Miller’s nearly operatic baritone and John Stoddard’s polished notes. Over the years, Williams has written songs for Jennifer Holliday, Dottie Peoples, Vanessa Armstrong and Earnest Pugh.  His debut CD, “…& Again I Say Rejoice,” appeared in 2008. For more information, go to www.epmmusicgroup.com