The Africa Worship Experience is felt by many to be a spiritual and transformative experience for American Gospel artists. In Part 1 of this story, we talk to Todd Dulaney and JJ Hairston about their experiences in the Motherland. Both artists left Africa much changed from when they arrived.
This writer’s very first interview with Todd Dulaney was in 2016. In a very recent interview about his new release, ‘To Africa With Love’, I reminded him of that conversation. Here’s what he said: “Right away I lit up. I said ‘Wow!’ I had no idea, because we schedule a lot of interviews, we sit down with a lot of people, but when I sat down with you and you said that, I said ‘Whoa! This is a guy I want to talk to’ because Africa was on my radar from the very beginning. I feel like I was supposed to be there, that I was supposed to worship there at some point. I didn’t know I was supposed to record there, but I knew at some point that I was to experience what it was like to see that level of freedom in worship.”
JJ Hairston appeared on ‘Experience Lagos 2019’. He explained it this way: “It was something I could never explain… To hear over 600,000 people worshipping at the same time felt like heaven. Every praise was explosive, and every moment of worship sounded like a host of angels. After that day, I vowed to always give my ‘ALL’ in worship.”
Both Todd and JJ had very similar experiences at different times and different places. I asked Todd: “How immersing is this ‘Africa Worship
Experience?” He replied: “In America, because we have shied away from the things of God so heavily now, we have lost that type of passion for Christ. As a nation, we have lost that level of pursuit for the things of God. A lot of the great, great mighty things that they’re experiencing in Africa in the presence of God, we don’t see them here, or at least we don’t see them on a regular basis. They see miracles – often. They see mighty healings – often. And it is because of that posture of their heart that says ‘I’m gonna go after Jesus no matter what!” Todd continues: “The ‘Africa Worship Experience’ is next level. The reason is, they are not ashamed of Jesus. They are unashamed to say, ‘I am deeply in love with this Christ, and I’m not gonna hold back.’ You feel that from the moment you touch ground there.”
JJ Hairston also chose to record in Africa. “We recorded in Abuja, because I’ve been changed by the worship experience in Nigeria,” says JJ. After ‘Experience Lagos’, I visited Coza in Abuja and I was blown away by the worship experience there. I’ve always loved the culture of worship in Africa, so much so that I wanted to capture it as part of my next live recording. We are deeply grateful for COZA Abuja, and for Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo. They have really become a second church home for me. So I did half of my recording there, and the second half at my home church – City of Praise in Landover, Maryland (USA).
“I recorded with two amazing and very popular Nigerian artists,” he continues. “One is Tim Godfrey. He has crazy energy!!! ‘Onaga’ is the song he wrote for us.” Onaga in one of Nigeria’s major languages is a prophetic word, a declaration that means ‘It is working’. “The energy while we sang that song was incredible. We also recorded the song ‘Excess Love’ with a very popular young woman named Mercy Chinwo. She’s AWESOME! She’s so small that her HUGE voice is so unexpected! And to top it off we collaborated on a song called ‘What Have You Not Done?’ with the praise team from COZA, named The Gratitude. They are awesome as well.”
Todd Dulaney’s To Africa With Love album, recorded in Capetown, is climbing the Billboard charts.
JJ Hairston’s Miracle Worker album, recorded in Abuja, Nigeria and the USA will be released Summer 2019.