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James Fortune understands that if you're going to preach redemption in the 21st century, you're going to have to make a production of it, and his albums are a bit like urban gospel hip-hop soul revues all done up in show biz style on Broadway, complete with Fortune's spoken, sung, and shouted encouragement. Fortune, who was born November 29, 1978, in Richmond, Texas, was raised in the church where his dad was a pastor, and was playing drums by the age of five. He graduated from Kempner High School in Sugar Land, Texas and then attended Cal State Northridge, and consequently became the choir director at Dimension Church in Houston. As much or more a preacher, choir leader, master of ceremonies, and a worship service manager as he is a straight-up singer, Fortune's strength is in understanding how to put gospel and praise songs over to a young 21st century audience, and with his featured choir, FIYA (which stands for Free in Yahweh's Abundance), he freely incorporates hip-hop arrangements and urban beats into his recordings, which include You Survived (2004), The Transformation (2007), Encore (2010), and Identity and Grace Gift (both released in 2012). His first live album, the two-disc Live Throught It, appeared early in 2014. ~ Steve Leggett, Rovi