The Reverend Luther Barnes comes from a notable gospel background. His father, Bishop F.C. Barnes, wrote and scored a hit with the gospel standard “Rough Side Of The Mountain.” Raised in the church from a young age, Rev. Barnes felt called to music ministry and embarked on a hit-making career as lead singer, producer, songwriter and director of the “quartet” gospel group Luther Barnes & The Sunset Jubilaires. He also founded The Red Budd Gospel Choir which also scored a string of hits, including the Stellar Award-nominated “Somehow Some Way.” Now Rev. Barnes steps forward with a brand new choir, the Restoration Worship Center Choir, and a stunning set of new compositions. The Favor Of God, his first choir project in a decade, is to be released by Shanachie Entertainment/SRT Entertainment on Sept. 9, 2016. Produced by Rev. Barnes and Derrick Adams, the album is a beautifully arranged and performed work featuring live strings and horns on several tracks, a work of extraordinary quality that re-asserts the relevance of traditional gospel. The lead single, “God’s Grace,” hit the gospel radio Top 20 in record time and seems destined to be another major landmark in Rev. Barnes’ magnificent gospel career. Given the quality of Rev. Barnes’ work and his commitment to his ministry, one wonders why it took so long for him to step forward with this new project.
“Although it has taken a minute for me to bring forth another musical project,” Luther says, “ I believe the delayed process was nothing less than God’s perfect will. The birthing of our church, Restoration Worship Center, has brought with it new life and purpose, which is extremely evident in these songs. The Restoration Worship Center Choir and musicians are awesome. We have truly been blessed by the Favor of God.”
Indeed the diversity and all-around quality of the music on “The Favor Of God,” makes it well worth the wait. Ranging from rousing hand-clapping, foot-stomping tracks such as “One More Time” to the heartfelt, lush, orchestrated “God’s Grace,” The Favor Of God is truly a tour-de-force.
“Luther Barnes is the ultimate musical trifecta,” says SRT Entertainment’s D.A. Johnson. “He is a phenomenal producer, prolific songwriter and consummate artist; his smooth velvet voice is one of the most distinctive, recognizable voices in the history of record music, ranking him amongst the greatest balladeers of all time.”
Luther Barnes was born in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 1954, the son of the late Bishop F. C. Barnes and the late Willie Mae Barnes, who instilled in him a desire to trust and obey God’s word. At the age of nine he felt the call of music ministry, feeling he had been given a special gift from the Lord. On graduating from high school he became the lead singer of the successful gospel quartet The Sunset Jubiliares, who went on to score a string of gospel hits. Luther’s style was notable for its refinement and dignity; he did not employ the flamboyant style of many other gospel vocalists. He pursued and attained a degree in Music Education from St. Augustine’s College in Raleigh, North Carolina and in 1985 formed the Red Budd Gospel Choir, who broke through with such hits as “I’m Still Holding On,” (which features a lead vocal from his wife Deborah Barnes), “So Satisfied, “ Spirit, Fall Fresh,” “That Other Shore,” “Somehow Someway” and “No Matter How High I Get” (written by Bobby Womack). In 2006 he accepted a call into the preaching ministry, following the leadership of his father. But he continued his music ministry, which took him all over the country, garnering a multitude of awards and honors including a Vision Award, Stellar Award, and a GWMA Excellence Award. He also received a Grammy nomination and a Gospel Heritage Award. Having produced over twenty-eight CDs, he found time to perform or record with such gospel greats as Shirley Caesar, Kirk Franklin, The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir, John P. Kee, and The Mighty Clouds Of Joy. He established the Restoration Worship Center in Rocky Mount, North Carolina in 2014 and serves as its Senior Pastor.
Even though Rev. Barnes is steeped in the gospel tradition and in many ways is continuing that tradition, he sees himself as an innovator. As he told journalist Bill Carpenter in Carpenter’s Uncloudy Days: The Gospel Music Encyclopedia: “At an early age, I would always listen to the difference between the sound of gospel music and the sound of popular music. The Temptations and all those artists sounded so much better. I said, ‘Goodness, why can’t gospel music come up and be just as right musically as the other forms of music? I thank God for people such as Kirk Franklin and James Cleveland who have helped us get our act together and upgrade our music.”
Always, modest, the Rev. Barnes did not mention himself as one of those who is elevating gospel music. But, as The Favor Of God shows, he definitely is!