Listen to this article here
Sign-Up for a free subscription to The Black Wall Street Times‘ daily newsletter, Black Editors’ Edition (BEE) – our curated news selections & opinions by us for you.
On April 26, award-winning singer, Grammy Nominated songwriter, and Grammy and Dove Award winning producer Rudy Currence released his latest album, Stained Glass Windows.
The Black Wall Street Times spoke with Rudy about the music, his motivations and much more.
Serenaded by the legendary Anointed Pace Sisters as the album opens, Rudy stated, “I wanted to pay homage to my Gospel roots and set the tone for the rest of the record.”
Rudy continued, “I wanted this album to be one of those works where you didn’t have to skip one song, it’s not just singles and the rest are album killers. I wanted it to be a whole experience.”
Currence created an album cover reflective of the times
Dedicated to growing with his art even amid the global pandemic lockdown, Rudy mentions he enjoyed the creative freedom that came along with developing an album like Stained Glass Windows. “I had an idea, ‘why don’t we make the facemask stained glass?’ I really wanted to make a collage and a lot of the art on the cover has symbolism from songs on the album.”
Having already appeared on ABC’s “The View”, BET, Revolt TV, Music Choice, The Breakfast Club, and more, Rudy credits his mother for curing him of stage fright long before he would command audiences around the world.
“She was grooming us so that we wouldn’t be afraid to be in front of people and to be on stages,” Rudy remembers. “I appreciate that because oftentimes children can be extremely gifted, especially as Black people, and it takes not only a village but sometimes it just takes some type of mentorship for somebody to recognize and identify those gifts and nurture it at an early age.”
He furthered, “She’s managed my whole career and sacrificed so much. Even before I was a recording artist, just as children, my mom would take my brother and I around Rock Hill, South Carolina, to all types of functions, church events or family reunions—any opportunity there was to perform.”
“I wouldn’t be who I am without my family, and my first No. 1 fan was my mom; she sacrificed a lot for me to be here.”
Rudy has toured nationally and abroad including renowned US venues like the House of Blues, City Winery, the Soul Train Music Cruise, Blue Bird Café, Hard Rock Café, and The World Famous Apollo Theatre.
Rudy says his creative process can swing from writing a song on the spot to knowing when to let go and let God deliver the words later. “I think about my music as a whole,” says Rudy. “A lot of times I’ll come up with a concept for the album and come up with song titles even before I’ve actually written the songs. I just already know what I want to talk about.”
Rudy is endorsed by Kawai, the world’s second largest piano distributor and has millions of views on YouTube via the viral success of his online series The Kawai Kronicles.
A lifelong student of the game, Rudy says he’s walked in his purpose for a long time, and it isn’t dictated by trends in Gospel music or its traditional expectations.
“For Christians, if nothing else, I want to be a bridge that teaches other Christians to love and encounter people the way Jesus did and show people we have more in common than trying to separate ourselves as holier than thou.” Rudy concluded, “Everybody falters, everybody falls short, so I don’t want to ever portray myself as being perfect. I do want to portray myself as my best self, I believe in Black excellence, I believe in the spirit of excellence and doing the best I can always and being polished and being a professional, but I’m not perfect.”
“I did R&B soul prior to doing faith-based music, and even before that, I majored in music at Furman University and I studied classical voice and piano. I think that’s an antiquated mindset and perspective.” Rudy explained, “I’ve learned a lot but I’m always thinking, I’m always a student. I never want to get to the point where I’m full of myself because I think there’s always something to learn.”
His writing and producer credits include songs for Mya, Ray J, blockbuster movie “The Bourne Identity”, David Banner, Christina Bell, and multiplatinum, Grammy and Emmy Award winning, music icon, Quincy Jones.
“I’m doing this music because I felt God called me to do this record” — Rudy Currence
“I use whatever influence I have to give Him glory and to do good because the world has been ugly place recently, and we need as much light in unconventional places and spaces as possible,” emphasized Rudy.
Asked about the contribution of his father (and Pastor) to the album’s song, Ransom (Reprise), Currence stated, “I wanted to showcase the voice that I heard growing up that was my first piano teacher and who is still my pastor. He’s given me a lot of nuggets of wisdom over the years along with my mom. I thank God for how they gave my brother and I insight as kids to keep us grounded as adults.”
Named after his father and his father, Rudy doesn’t take his third-generation legacy for granted. His first No. 1 billboard chart topper, “I Belong Here”, was written during the pandemic, a time when he allowed his ancestral creativity and confidence to flourish despite an uncertain future.
Seven years earlier in 2013, Rudy won both Grammy and Dove awards for his production on Lecrae’s album, “Gravity” and in 2015, was again Grammy nominated for writing “Sunday AM” (Pronounced Sunday Morning) for gospel music legend, Karen Clark Sheard.
“I really wanted to be a part of the wave of artists that are showing you can have a moral compass and belief system while also being relatable and personable,” said Rudy.
Rudy’s hit single, “Testimony“, exploded onto the Gospel charts rising quickly to Billboard’s Top 20. Stained Glass Windows is making heavenly noise with its lead single, “I Belong Here” now available on all digital platforms. “Ransom” is the next single to be followed by a music video.
“I believe there’s a plan and a purpose for this music. I believe there’s a lot of healing in it. I believe it’s going to encourage and inspire a lot of people who are angry and frustrated,” said Rudy. “And I think this music will soothe some things in people’s hearts and hopefully help heal traumas to get them on a path to being home.”
Find Stained Glass Windows on Spotify, YouTube, Pandora, iHeart, and other streaming platforms.
This interview was edited for brevity.