Gospel sensation Marvin Sapp has seen his share of adversity. But in the end, he’s able to claim a victory. His latest album, “I Win,” is his public declaration.
Sapp’s wife, MaLinda, died in 2010 of colon cancer, leaving him to raise their three children. Before that, he’d lost three important men: his father, his spiritual father and his musical mentor.
“I was in a position I was never in before, and it was hard,” he says. “But I always learned being a winner is a mindset.”
“I Win” was the most challenging album of Sapp’s career, which has included “Here I Am” (2010), “Thirsty” (2007) and “Be Exalted” (2005). It’s his first without his wife’s guidance.
“I always had my wife there to bounce off concepts, lyrics, ideas, and this time I was in a position where I had to do it alone,” he says. “I still bounce things off my kids, who have a piece of their mama in them. … I could hear her voice tell me, ‘You can do it. I like this. I don’t like that. Try something different.'”
Sapp’s “churchy but funky” style is found throughout “I Win,” including on “Keep It Moving,” a song inspired by his wife. “She told us that on a day-to-day basis to keep us encouraged,” he says.
He also used social media to find a handful of songs for “I Win.”
“I wanted to give somebody unknown an opportunity to share their gift on a national level,” says Sapp, who claims he’s not so gifted in the songwriting arena. “I wanted to do something different — giving people an opportunity to write songs and get royalties from it.”
Sapp’s fans saw him briefly this season on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta,” but he’s eying his own reality show about his life raising three teenagers while holding together a church and a charter school.
It was shot last year, and he’s been pitching it to networks. He thinks he knows why it hasn’t been picked up yet.
“It’s not the type of show that has a whole lot of tension,” he says. “There’s not a lot of foolishness and debauchery.”
He was advised to add a love interest to the show to make it more interesting.
“I don’t believe the church is ready for that,” says Sapp, a pastor at Lighthouse FLC church in Grand Rapids, Mich. “A man of God dating publicly — some things should remain private.”
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