The former Tom Joyner Morning Show entertainment reporter, who resigned from the syndicated radio show in June, will release his debut CD, “Jawn Murray presents Untapped” in stores and online on September 13, 2011.
“This project was a natural extension of who I am because of my overall passion for gospel music. Finding 10 artists with a fresh sound and being able to give them a platform to be recognized is a dream project for me. Anyone who knows me knows I’ve always wanted to be able to utilize my success in mainstream entertainment to empower the gospel industry and I believe this project is a step in that direction,” Murray told EUR’s Lee Bailey.
Murray, a regular entertainment and pop culture contributor on HLN shows like “The Joy Behar Show,” “Prime News,” “Issues with Jane Velez-Mitchell” and “Your Views,” said the inspiration for his CD came even before breaking into the business 12 years ago.
“I had three high profile heroes before I started working in entertainment professionally: Oprah Winfrey, Will Smith and Kirk Franklin. The reason I admired Kirk was because he was this church boy who loved God, but bridged the gap between the faith-based community and mainstream entertainment. It showed that you can love God and be normal. You can love God and dress fly. You can love God and have balance! That inspired me and I always said when given the opportunity, I was going to do the same thing,” Murray explained.
The partnership with EMI Gospel came as a result of the Washington, DC-based journalist having worked behind the scenes with the company in the artist development capacity and with media coaching artists like Kierra Sheard, Micah Stampley, Darlene McCoy and Forever Jones, among others.
“It just made sense to work with a label that I had a great rapport with,” Murray said, before adding: “And I have always believed you work with people that want to work with you!”
The label’s president is thrilled by the early response that “Jawn Murray presents Untapped” is receiving from both the industry and consumers alike.
“We’re amazed at the talented, but unknown, gospel artists we often hear. Working with Jawn Murray on the ‘Untapped’ project has been a great way to introduce some of these gifted artists to the world,” said Ken Pennell, President of EMI Gospel.
After receiving more than 300 entries for the 10 slots on the CD; Murray, EMI executives and celebrity judges Dr. Bobby Jones (“Bobby Jones Gospel”), singer and TV talent Lexi, Grammy-nominee VaShawn Mitchell and radio host Gerard Bonner (“Bonnerfide Radio”) chose the following finalists: Brian Reeves, Charles Butler & Trinity, Derrick Bull & Remnant, FaLawna Barton, Joy Lewis, Lawrence Flowers & Intercession, Madelyn Berry, Tasha Page-Lockhart, Tobbi White-Darks and Tonia Hughes.
One of the artists selected will receive a recording contract with EMI Gospel and have their CD executive produced by Murray. The winner will be announced in early 2012.
In the meantime, Murray is having a release party for “Untapped” in Washington, DC on Sept. 10. For details, go to: http://lockerz.com/s/133849817
Having left his on-air position on the “Tom Joyner Morning Show” and also having resigned from AOL Black Voices following their merger with The Huffington Post in April, EURweb.com had to inquire about Murray’s next professional moves.
“I really needed this summer to focus on me! I did some specialty projects like “Untapped,” some social media projects that have been fun, and there’s the TV work, which I really love. I’ve had some interesting opportunities presented to me as far as online and radio work are concerned and moving into the fall, I’ll seriously start to weigh some of those opportunities,” he closed.
Follow Murray on Twitter: @JawnMurray or friend him on Facebook.com/JawnMurrayVIP.