Kanye West Takes Gospel Show to Jail
After bringing Sunday Service to music festivals and churches, Kanye West took it to a jail in Texas for an emotional performance that brought some inmates to tears.
Some are comparing to Johnny Cash's 1968 performance at Folsom Prison
Kanye West brought his Sunday Service performance to Houston’s Harris County Jail. As part of the rollout of his album Jesus Is King, his gospel-infused hip-hop performances have made it to festivals universities churches across America. Despite some questions over the sincerity of his move to gospel, music industry veterans say if West’s intention is pure, his pivot could be revolutionary. Each performance spanned 45 minutes. About 400 male inmates witnessed one show and 100 female inmates were moved by another. That moment brought the retired Harris County Sheriff's Office Lieutenant turned chaplain to tears.
“Gospel music is gospel. The good news is what message you're putting on top of whatever that music is. I look at what he's trying to do, hopefully. That whatever it is that people may have had hesitations about him in the past will stay in the past. If he stays on the path of being what it is that he's saying he's doing through the music in these new Sunday services that he's doing. I'll be his biggest supporter,” Andre Guess, founder - Guessworks Management tells Brut. "So, beyond that initial impact, what’s the follow-up?" It's the question Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and five full-time chaplains asked themselves as soon as the award-winning rap artist and his team left the county jail. Since then chaplains have been building on that once-in-a-lifetime experience that some are comparing to Johnny Cash's 1968 performance at Folsom Prison.
The chaplains are working with inmates who are now opened to seeing a new perspective. Teams of county employees are connecting inmates, many of whom are awaiting trial, with faith-based ministries and mental health resources. In addition to the full-time staff, about 200 civilians volunteer with the sheriff's chaplaincy program. After West's performance, the hope is for more people step up to volunteer.