Grammy, Stella and Dove Award nominee and New Jersey native Freddy Washington's debut album is titled The Jesus Record. Washington's work features gospel, hip hop, R&B and country vibes, creating what can only called a one-of-a-kind sound that's earning him critical acclaim and industry notoriety.
Washington wrote and produced all 17 tracks for The Jesus Record. BREATHEcast sat down with Washington to talk about his musical style, his creative process and his early success.
BC: How were you able to integrate so many different styles of music?
Honestly, it wasn't something that was thought out. It wasn't formulated where I thought let me mix a bit of this with some of that. But as a songwriter, writing the songs gives you a little bit of a head start in producing because I let the song tell me where it needs to go. In terms of blending genres I just make music I'm passionate about. Sometimes it's CCM, sometimes it's gospel, other times it may have a country vibe to it. The Jesus is Andrae Crouch meets Michael W. Gospel people listen to my album and say it's got a CCM vibe. CCM say it's gospel. I don't see it as a negative; I see it as an advantage to be able to reach more people with the gospel.
BC: So you don't believe in the musical boundaries?
I understand why we need them. But, especially on this record I had control so I didn't have to worry about someone telling me what I could not do. The Lord allowed me to break a few of the rules and make it the way I felt he gave it to me. I love that god has created so many different people with different voices. I want my voice to be heard in a pure sense, the way God gave it to me I want to give it back to him. What you find with that is there are always people on that wavelength you just don't know who they are. So I'm hoping people will enjoy it and be blessed by the lyrical content.
BC: What is the creative process like when you're the writer, artist and producer?
Well, that's hard because when you work with other people on their project as a producer it's easy to step back, look at the big picture and cut away things that don't fit. It's hard to let anything go when you're the artist, writer and producer. Maybe that's why my album has 17 tracks. I'm grateful for the opportunity to have done it on this record. I may not be able to do it on the next record.
BC: For such a young artist you've received numerous accolades. What do you attribute your early success to?
I'm grateful to have received those awards behind the scenes, it was a team effort. I didn't receive those awards performing on a stage by myself. It was all of us and being able to share it with them made it better. And it reminds me that we're in this together to promote the gospel, to spread the word of Jesus Christ.
BC: Do you remember the first time you sang in church?
Yes. It was really, really bad. I'm still at the church I grew up in, my father is the pastor. So I was in church when I wanted to be there and when I didn't want to be there. The great about being with those people you came up with is if they love you they'll tolerate your mistakes, they'll encourage you, they'll tell you to keep going and eventually you get better. But it's not about the skill it's about the message and the love. I was lucky to grow in a church where they heard me sing off key a lot and they loved me in spite of it. Now they get to see me do other things and be successful and feel they had a hand in my development. That community is important to me. I'm home every Sunday playing the organ because it helps you maintain accountability.
BC: What's your favorite cut on the album?
On this record I'd say it's the title track "Jesus." If you listen to that song and not the rest of the record you'll still get what I'm trying to communicate with this record. It encapsulates the whole thing. If I had to pick one that's the one I'd pick.
BC: When people listen to your album what message do you want them to come away with?
The gospel. This record was an attempt to remind people of the main thing which was a holy God who sent his son to rescue us from our sins. This man whose life should have been rewarded was punished by death. And by putting our faith in him we can have life we never earned. The reason I'm so passionate about that is because I think we view the gospel like it's the initial thing and now we're going into the deep stuff. But we can never fully grasp what the gospel means in our lives, our relationship with ourselves and with our families. I want people to take away that if they place their faith in the lord their sins are forgiven.