Darwin Hobbs: Broken
Having sung for several years with a roster of superstar acts that reads like a Who's-Who of modern Gospel and pop music-including CeCe Winans, Michael McDonald, Carman, Donnie McClurkin, and Michael Card-Darwin is now hailed as one of America's foremost leaders of Praise & Worship.
"A big part of my artistry is that I'm a worshipper," he says, "and that comes out wherever I'm singing, and hopefully in my life as a whole. It's who I am."
Running a gamut that includes reverential songs of worship, majestic ballads, and smooth R&B and hip-hop grooves, Broken seamlessly showcases Darwin's dazzling diversity, and is truly modern Gospel for the masses.
"There are times of the day when I'm just wanting to groove and bop my head, and still be encouraged and inspired while I'm doing that," Darwin explains. "Then there are other times when I'm more introspective and in more of a worshipful place, and I want music that will assist me in those devotional periods and get me into the right frame of mind. I believe Broken is a pretty even division of the two."
But the album title itself also carries a profound significance for Darwin
"Broken really captures where I am spiritually and creatively," he says. "I consider brokenness to be a posture that God wants to bring forth in the life of anyone who seeks to follow and serve Him. The dictionary defines it as `humbled, or trained.' Brokenness is the prerequisite for God to get the maximum glory out of all that we do, and for us to be people He can really use."
Darwin's thoughts are presented eloquently in the gorgeous balladry of the "Break Me/Draw Me Medly," a plaintive cry of surrender, and a call for God's healing, protection and comfort, which Darwin calls "the cornerstone of the album for me." The smooth, funk-flavored "Unexplainable" probes the eternally mysterious nature of the Almighty. "It seems like there ought to be more words that we could say about God than the English language provides," says Darwin, "but no words are that great or complete, so we just have to acknowledge that He is ultimately unexplainable."
Darwin also emerges on Broken as a songwriter, having written three of the album's numbers including "Nobody Like Jesus," a perfect marriage of gospel, pop and R&B with across-the-board appeal, done as a simmering duet with Shirley Murdock. "My own tastes run to great music in all styles and genres," Darwin comments, "and I think that's why you hear a musical mix on that song."
"We Worship You Today" is a reverent song of worship, with a grand piano and strings embracing Darwin's soaring, heartfelt vocal. "Against The World" is a steady rocking, R&B recounting of God's faithfulness, while "Praise Him" is an ecstatic, hip-hop expression of straight-up exaltation to the Lord.
Red-hot producer Tommy Simms (Amy Grant, CeCe Winans, Kenny Loggins) produced the largest portion of the collection's ten songs, with Kevin Bond (Donnie
McClurkin), Mike City (Brandi, Sunshine Anderson), Bernie Herms (CeCe Winans, Plus-One), and Danny Weatherspoon (Tri-City Singers, Shirley Murdock) also lending hot hands on one cut each.
Darwin was born and raised in Cincinnati, where he'd discovered at age 10-on his first day in church choir-his phenomenal, God-given gift for singing. He sang constantly throughout his childhood and adolescence, in church and school, both as a soloist and in various ensembles. Frustrated as a young adult with life in the working-world, but uncertain how to even approach a career in music, Darwin had an epiphany at a mid-'90s CeCe Winans concert. Realizing he could serve the Lord he loved with music he loved led him to a friendship with Winans' manager, Roger Ryan. Impressed with Darwin's talent and enthusiasm, Ryan suggested Darwin and Traci, his wife now of 10 years, relocate to Nashville, which they did in 1996.
Within only a few weeks Darwin, to his amazement, found himself singing on major-label projects by an ever-widening array of name artists. As he marked his six-month anniversary in Music City, Darwin began receiving the first signs of serious industry interest in him as a solo recording artist, leading to his first EMI Gospel release, Mercy, in 1999, and the 100,000-plus-selling Vertical two years later.
Darwin's schedule over the last two years that has allowed him to lead a dual career - worship leader of the 25,000-member New Birth Cathedral in Atlanta and as touring and recording artist to which he will now turn his focus full-time. Darwin looks ahead to landmarks still to come on his journey.
"There've been a lot of changes going on in the world, and in my own life, in the last couple of years," he concludes. "It's been a real paradigm shift, and I think Broken reflects that. I've just tried to conduct myself as naturally as I can, and be where God wants me to be, doing whatever He would have me do. I'm in hot pursuit of anything God has for me. Whatever door He's opening, I want to walk through it."
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