Marvin Sapp song continues to break records

The single "Never Would Have Made It"
July 23, 2008 10:12:55 AM PDT
Marvin Sapp's single "Never Would Have Made It" is a record-breaking phenomenon far beyond the world of gospel.The track from his seventh album, "Thirsty," is in its 42nd week at No. 1 on Billboard's gospel radio charts. It is a crossover success with its perch at No. 1 on the urban adult contemporary chart, and has become the longest running No. 1 single at radio across all genres in the history of Billboard analysis.

Sapp, who is the founder and senior pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center Church in Grand Rapids, Mich., wrote the song on the Sunday after he eulogized his father. It's built upon a simple refrain: "Never would have made it, never could have made it, without you."

But Sapp, 41, said the single never would have made it onto the album had it not been for the encouragement of his wife and a staffer.

"It was a song that was really therapeutic for me, to get me through probably one of the most traumatic and traumatizing experiences in my life, and I said, 'I'm not putting it on the album because it's for me,'" he told The Associated Press in a recent interview.

But he did. And since then, Sapp, who considers himself a "double-barrel shotgun" because he has both a strong music and preaching ministry, says his engagement requests have "shot through the roof," going from a monthly average of about 50 requests per month to about 150 per month.

"Thirsty," released last July, is now certified gold and has been No. 1 on gospel album sales charts for 27 weeks.

"I'm absolutely enjoying the success that we've experienced, but at the same token I'm very thankful that this happened when I was old enough to handle it," Sapp said.

Sapp has won Stellar awards and has been nominated for multiple Grammys. In the 1990s, he was recruited to sing with one of gospel's seminal contemporary vocal groups, Commissioned, by fellow gospel chart-topper Fred Hammond. He released his first solo album in 1996. "Thirsty" has been his most successful album to date.

His latest project involves finding partners to help support a public school scheduled to open this fall, the Grand Rapids Ellington Academy of Arts and Technology (GREAAT). The school is a partnership between Grand Rapids Public Schools and Sapp's private education organization, GREAAT Schools Inc.

"It gives me the opportunity to take the notoriety and the acclaim that I've received from this project and posture it and position it so that I can help to educate children in our urban community."