For the past year Americans have heard Marvin Sapp’s clarion tenor sing about Christ’s ability to sustain believers. “Never Would Have Made It” is his biggest song and its power has transcended the gospel world and landed in the middle of urban markets. A performance at this year’s BET awards was the evening’s apex trumping the usual secular favorites for a song reflective of the country’s need for a lifesaver among economic instability and the race for a new president. Kirk Franklin made gospel cool by mixing it with urban culture. Franklin’s success was not guaranteed by the infusion of hip-hop beats and dances but easier to explain. Sapp’s crossover success is an anomaly but it reveals a reverse history lesson; gospel music has returned soul to the radio. In the ‘50s and ‘60s it would take Ray Charles and Aretha Franklin to bring the gospel sensibility to popular music. By the ‘90s hip-hop took over and soul singers became extinct. At this time Sapp was a member of the revered gospel group Commissioned. By ’96 he went solo and began the path that has led to his seventh album Thirsty. Currently on the How Sweet The Sound tour in search of top-notch choirs around the country Pastor Sapp addresses the song’s success, his holistic ministry and how he always knew God was real.
What do you think it is about “Never Would Have Made It” that makes so many people connect to it instead of other gospel songs?
I think the thing that makes “Never Would Have Made It” such a heart wrenching song is because we’ve all had “Never Would Have Made It” moments. We’ve all found ourselves in places where we didn’t know what we were going to do how we were going to get through it. But after we come through it and learn the lessons that God was really trying to teach us all of become stronger better wiser individuals. I think that is really the grabbing point if you will of the song.