Coleman Jackson

       A Christian who rediscovers the Lord overflows with enthusiasm and knows all things are possible through Him. In the title cut of her first album, Sing for Me, Dez relates how God spoke to her and directed the former Broadway singer and actress into full-time Christian ministry.

        "I'm really happy to be doing something with my voice that is solely for the praise of God, to feel like I'm giving something back," she said. "You see so much in the secular world that looks glamorous, but over and over again, I've realized there's really nothing like serving the Lord."

       Desiree Coleman-Jackson grew up in New York City and began her professional career acting in commercials at age seven. Seven years later, the producers of the off-Broadway show, "Mama I Want to Sing," cast the teenage singer with a five-octave range in the role of Doris Winter.

       Playing a youthful diva with the lyrical stylings of Aretha Franklin and Patti LaBelle proved pivotal for the up-and-coming artist. She remained in the role for eight years, touring both nationally and internationally. In addition, portraying a girl who had grown up singing in church created a strong sense of identity with her theatrical persona.

        "At the time, I was going through some similar things as that of Doris, so I could really relate to the character," Dez said. "She was a young woman growing up in the music business, surrounded by gospel on one side and R&B/Pop music on the other. Parts of Doris were so much like me when I first started out."

       Following her off-Broadway run, Dez landed a part in the Bob Fosse musical, "Big Deal," which brought the singer/actress a nomination for the prestigious Drama Desk Award. A recording contract with Motown Records soon followed, and the talented New Yorker believed she had hit the big time.

        "It was like a dream come true," she said. "One day I was in the studio recording the album and the next thing I was on a national U.S. tour opening for Patti LaBelle." Romance blossomed for Desiree when she met fellow New Yorker and former St. John's basketball star Mark Jackson while making a personal appearance at the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Following a whirlwind courtship and marriage, the couple settled in Southern California as Mark switched NBA teams from the New York Knicks to the Los Angeles Clippers. At that time, Dez placed show business on hold for five years to solidify her martial and family relationships.

        "I've always felt that family is my priority, and it's important for children to grow up with a solid base," she said. "It was something I really wanted to focus on, and Mark and I both agreed that home would always come before our careers."

       But shunning the stage couldn't quell the singer/songwriter's creative urges. Overcome with stress and anger, Dez personally encountered her Savior leading her to make a major career change.

        "Record companies were pushing me to sell sex both lyrically and physically," she said. "My faith wouldn't allow it, but it meant I could only work a few small gigs."

        "One evening, I went to the bedroom to be alone, and I heard Jesus tell me, 'Sing for Me, and I will lift you up,'" Dez elaborated. "It was so strong but so peaceful, and I immediately went to the kitchen and wrote the song."

       The composition languished for seven years, but when Destiny Music Group (DMG) based in Charlotte, North Carolina approached the former Broadway star about an album, she decided to build the project around it. The resulting 16-track CD provided listeners with an eclectic blend of urban, traditional gospel, show tunes, pop and R&B.

        "I've felt the Lord's anointing on this song from the beginning," the talented and versatile artist said. "In fact, when we recorded 'Sing For Me' in the studio, we kept the very first take which was only supposed to be for reference."

        "We are ecstatic to represent an artist of Dez's caliber not only because of her uniquely gifted voice, but also because of her willingness to serve others and her family," Mark Moore, DMG president, added. "Musically, we feel that Sing for Me will appeal to a wide audience, but perhaps more importantly, the project will be a powerful ministry tool as it offers hope that lives can be changed through the power of Christ."

       The recording has already generated waves in the secular world and media. At the CD's debut party in New York, the elite of Gotham's sports, music, and fashion scene attended including Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, rappers Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, LL Cool J, and B.B. Jay, pastor and gospel artist Hezekiah Walker, and clothing mogul Tommy Hilfiger.

        "I was blessed to have so many people whose influence reaches out to vast audiences attend my celebration with me," the singer said. "I'm hopeful that seeing and being around so many Christians will have an effect on their lives as well."

       Because of Dez's experience and contacts outside of the Christian music genre, some cuts may receive airplay on urban radio stations especially "Diamond Rings" written by her sister Kamaya and featuring B.B. Jay. The song addresses the materiality of this world and its relative importance to knowing Jesus Christ.

        "There's a lot of inner city kids who would never listen to Christian music," Dez said. "Hopefully, this song can teach them that shopping sprees, cars, and houses don't compare with our health and strength that comes from God."

        "I'm in a very blessed situation," she added. "I finally have the opportunity to sing about my faith, and that's what's important to me about this entire experience."

 

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