Marvin Sapp

by Teresa Lockhart

Marvin Sapp is fine now, but that wasn’t the case when he recorded his live sophomore album, Grace and Mercy. He was battling a 103.5 degree temperature and chose not to heed the advice of his doctor, who suggested he postpone the concert. But the project has done remarkably well—picking up several award nominations and rising to the top of the gospel chart.

Which is funny, when you discover he initially wasn’t all that happy with it, "At first I was extremely upset," Sapp explains during a telephone interview from his home state of Michigan. "I wasn’t at my best. We had to leave the album exactly as it was, with no opportunity to re-dub anything. But, because of the success the album has had, I’ve learned it’s not about me being at my best. It’s about giving my all to God and allowing Him to use it to His glory. It’s not about my ability—it’s about my availability."

The follow-up video, Grace and Mercy: Live in Concert, like the album, covers both traditional and contemporary gospel with a strong, funky rhythm section and choral vocal arrangements. Unlike with the album, the video went pretty well. "I felt really good the night of this concert," he says. "I enjoy performing live, and (the recording of this video) gave me the opportunity to do what I really love—to be on stage and to minister musically."

Also a minister and evangelist, Sapp heads Joy Ministries, based in his hometown of Grand Rapids, Mich. Joy Ministries, responsible for Sapp’s booking and management, is also actively involved in community outreach. It has adopted families during the Christmas and Thanksgiving holidays, has bought and distributed school supplies for disadvantaged children, and sponsored several scholarships over the last seven or eight years. "As the Lord blesses and gives to us through our travels, preaching and singing," he says, "we take and give back to the communities."

Reprinted by Permission, Profile Magazine, Dec’98/Jan’99 Issue.