*Gospel record label Habbakuk Music Group (Habbakuk) — named after a Hebrew prophet and Old Testament book in the Bible– is still in a holy spat with its former artist, Isaiah D. Thomas.
In February EUR published an injunction from Habbakuk alleging Thomas violated his contract by recording a CD with another label while he was still in his agreement with them. Details of the the dispute were revealed in several emails obtained from April Washington-Essex after an interview request.
According to Washington-Essex, CEO of Habbakuk, the rift between the artist and label transpired when Thomas was “in a rush” to record a second CD and she wasn’t ready. In an e-mail dated April 27, 2009 she explained to Thomas that God did not green light the label’s involvement in a CD he wanted to record.
“I have been seeking God about the timing of your next recording,” she wrote in the e-mail. “To date, God has not confirmed His approval for Habakkuk Music to participate on May 16, 2009 for several reasons. . .”
As the head of a Christian company the label executive said she felt she had every right to look to God for guidance.
Instead of waiting for God to speak Washington-Essex, Thomas opted to record an album with his church choir. a statement obtained from Thomas’ attorneys deny their client breached the agreement previously held with Habakkuk.
The artists’ new label, Global Gospel Music Group (headed by Antonio Murchinson) responded to the injunction from Habakkuk in a February 17 press release stating their artist is “free and clear of all past obligations to Habakkuk.” Thomas has already begun to make new strides in his career. A newly released single, “I Dare You” has charted on Radio and Records.
Washington-Essex allegedly sent the notice of injunction to radio stations across the country to stop them from playing his new music. There was a dramatic decline in radio airplay, which Thomas’ Attorney Carl Brown claims is a result of her actions.
“She tried to sabotage Thomas,” Brown said in a New York Post article. “He went from being the third-most-added song in gospel radio to being nonexistent weeks later. The stations didn’t want to deal with any legal problems.”
Says Thomas, who reportedly is suing Habbakuk for $500,000, “I am grateful for a brand new opportunity to minister Gods’ Word thru [sic] Song. God made a way to produce this second album even when companies walked away”.
Both record companies are based in Maryland.
STATEMENTS FORM APRIL WASHINGTON-ESSEX
Here is my personal statement about the matter:
From the New York Post and courthousenews.com articles, to the accusations and rumors being made by Isaiah D. Thomas and Global Gospel Music Group, in short, are all false.
This started in March 2009 with Isaiah’s rush to do a live church recording. The comment about me hearing from God was taken completely out of context from an email (see below) that I sent to Isaiah about a previous conversation regarding his urgency to do this “live” church recording scheduled for May 16, 2009. At that point, we were just starting to sell records as a result of the moderate success of his current single, Said He Would Be With Me. We were also in the process of releasing a follow-up single from The Greatest CD project to further maximize the CD’s success. As a result, I asked him to wait. He was so anxious about doing the recording and thus proceeded to move forward. Everything was moving so fast, so I began to pray and seek God for direction. I then sent the email (see below) stating that God has not given his approval for “Habakkuk” to participate in the May 16th recording. This line was taken completely out of context. As CEO of a Christian record label, I have every right to seek God about timing and direction.
Furthermore, I was also prayerful and wanted Isaiah to wait because of some troubling “things” I had learned. At this point, if I wanted to be revengeful I could “badly” damage His reputation and career with “proof”, but I won’t because too many people would get hurt and the gospel music industry would suffer even more damage.
With regard to cheating Isaiah out of royalties; to the best of my knowledge, contributing writers on his CD, “The Greatest” have received multiple checks for mechanical royalties and accurate statements from Habakkuk Music for CDS sold. With regard to cheating Isaiah and manipulating soundscan reports for 12,000 units sold, it’s not true. Artists must get educated about recouping against royalties. More importantly, artists must stay focused and humble, and stop thinking they are bigger than hype that we as record labels are skillful at creating. Sometimes it translates into mega records sales and but in most cases, especially in gospel music, it doesn’t. If Isaiah was in doubt about royalties owed, manipulating soundscan, etc., there is a clause in our contracts that gives the artist the right to demand an audit. That option was never exercised. Instead Isaiah proceeded to enter into another agreement while still under contract with Habakkuk. It’s like being in a marriage, trouble comes, and he jumps into another marriage getting married before the divorce is final.
In closing, we at Habakkuk Music and our affiliates invest a lot of time, money and efforts into breaking artists. To let Global Gospel Music Group or any other entity attempt to infringe upon our assets without warning would be weak leadership on my part. Moving forward, my intent to continue to handle this matter with discretion.
Email regarding statement taken out of context:
I have been seeking God about the timing of your next recording. To date, God has not confirmed His approval for Habakkuk Music to participate on May 16, 2009 for several reasons:
The manner in which the proposed recording has been discussed and scheduled is not in compliance with the contract section regarding “Recording”, as articulated in the Agreement between Habakkuk Music and Isaiah Thomas The singles entitled “The Greatest” and “God Said He Would Be With Me”, from your most recent project, are currently receiving significant airplay from consistent marketing and promotion efforts The video for “He’s Able”, the third single release from your most recent project, for which planning and budgeting has been appropriated…is scheduled for shoot and projected launch in June 2009
In order for us to move forward on this new project together, Isaiah, we need to get/be on the same page, figurately [sic] speaking. What this means in a literal sense will require, at minimum, a face-to-face meeting to address the aforementioned concerns.
STATEMENT FROM GLOBAL GOSPEL MUSIC GROUP
Global Gospel Music Group is proud to announce the signing of Multi-Stellar Award Winner, BMI Award Winner, and Dove Award Nominee Isaiah D. Thomas along with the release of his new single entitled “I Dare You” which has charted No. 3 as most added single this week on Radio and Records Gospel panel.
Contrary to assertions which have been circulated in the media by Mr. Thomas’ prior record label Habakkuk Music, our artist was contractually free and clear of all past obligations to Habakkuk Music at the time of his signing to Global Gospel Music Group. Mr. Thomas, through his counsel Chris Brown, properly terminated all agreements with Habakkuk Music due to breaches of his contract. The intentions and stated desires of Habakkuk Music to continue its relationship with Mr. Thomas cannot and does not supersede [sic] legal and contractual processes.
The matter is presently not subject to any court or legal proceedings nor are there any court orders, injunctions and/or restraining orders.
Global Gospel Music stands behind the validity of its agreement with Isaiah D. Thomas, and will continue to market, promote and support his recordings and career. We wish the principals of his prior label, Habakkuk Music, all the best.