From the streets to hip-hop beats
Gospel rapper Mr. Testimony releases new album
By BRANDON A. PERRY | Posted: Thursday, January 17, 2013 10:30 am
Anyone who is ready to enjoy some excitement and have their life transformed all at once are in for a special treat.
Mr. Testimony, a hip-hop artist known for his hyped stage shows and inspiring life story, is inviting the community to a release party for his second album, “The Struggle Is Over,” Jan. 19 at EPC Praise Center.
“This album is more personal and direct. There is nothing added or sugarcoated to make it more or less than what it is – the truth,” said Mr. Testimony, whose legal name is Owen Cowherd.
As his stage name suggests, Cowherd, a gospel hip-hop artist, has a testimony that is relatable to many who have grown up in urban communities. He was raised in a single parent home in a neighborhood on the Eastside of Indianapolis known for its high rates of crime and low rates of graduation.
Despite that, Cowherd’s life began with promise. He did well in school and was a star varsity basketball player for Broad Ripple High School. His athletic talent earned him a scholarship to Glen Oaks Junior College in Michigan, but after becoming homesick, he left and began attending classes locally at IUPUI. Cowherd dropped out shortly after surviving a car accident and he decided to sell drugs, which provided a lucrative income.
In May of 2008, however, Cowherd and a female companion were arrested while riding on U.S. 41 in Evansville after 30 pounds of marijuana was found in his truck. Someone had called the police after noticing the truck swerving.
Faced with a $50,000 bond, Cowherd called friends that he had helped get out of jail, but to no avail. He was forced to contact his mother and ask her to gather money he had left at his home.
“She was crying, and I was like wow, because she never really showed emotion. She always tried to practice tough love,” Cowherd said. “I decided I never wanted to hurt her like that again.”
Angry that his so-called friends had abandoned him, the rapper called out to a higher power.
“I said, ‘God, if you are real, help me out of this situation.’ I found out that everything works for a reason,” he said.
Cowherd then began to notice positive changes in his life. Originally facing up to 10 years in prison on drug charges, he was instead given three years on house arrest, which was later reduced to 19 months.
Later, Cowherd found a job as an oil technician but still struggled while paying child support for two sons. Occasionally, grateful customers impressed by his work ethic gave financial gifts, and, at age 28, Cowherd received a long overdue child support check from his absent father that helped pay rent.
In addition, he became active in the lives of his two sons, both of whom he discovered were, ironically, both given biblical names, Isaiah and Emmanuel.
“God had me at that point,” he said.
Before his arrest, Cowherd made secular rap music. However, he realized that his purpose is to use the power of hip-hop music to transform lives. He became committed to helping others overcome their difficulties and find spiritual security.
In 2011, he released the album “Convict and Confirm,” which gained popularity in Indianapolis and some outside markets, thanks to Cowherd’s style, which he calls “street gospel with a Midwest swing.”
Among Cowherd’s influences are Nelly, E-40, Lil’ Boosie, Pras, The Hot Boyz and Yo Gotti. He marries the musical styles of these artists with inspiring lyrics.
His music has gained him notoriety not only in the hip-hop community, but also among those who need people with testimonies like his to reach at-risk youth. He can often be found performing or speaking at places such as local high schools, the Marion County Juvenile Detention Center, and the Wheeler Boys & Girls Club.
Inspired by how his own family dealt with tragedy from several recent deaths due to illness and homicide, Cowherd wants to use his new album, “The Struggle Is Over,” to encourage other families that hardships only last a season.
After the album release party, he will embark on a multi-state promotional tour that will include venues around Indiana and cities such as Cincinnati and Cleveland, Ohio, Jacksonville, Fla., and St. Louis.
Mr. Testimony said, “My message is that no matter what life looks like, what people say about you or how they treat you, God will never forsake you.”