A career move to make Los Angeles home a few years ago included a “prodigal son” story for singer/actress Jordin Sparks, who now says she hopes worship music will be a part of her recordings list.
“I do sing worship at my church in L.A. I haven’t recorded any worship songs yet, but I’m hopefully going to be starting the process soon. I worship all the time. I have to. It’s like breathing. Singing is like breathing. I wake up and I have to sing and it’s usually a worship song. I know where I’ve been and I know where He’s brought me from so I’m grateful all the time,” Sparks, 27, told Together LA backstage at the recent Harvest America 2017 in Phoenix where she was a guest artist.
At age 17, Sparks’ rise to fame kicked off in 2007, when she won the sixth season of American Idol, and she became the youngest winner in the series’ history. Her self-titled debut studio album, released later that year, was certified platinum and has sold over two million copies worldwide. Sparks’ second studio album, Battlefield (2009), debuted at Number 7 on the Billboard 200 chart. Throughout her career, Sparks has won numerous awards, including an NAACP Image Award, a BET Award, an American Music Award, a People’s Choice Award, and two Teen Choice Awards. Her third studio album, Right Here Right Now, was released in August 2015.
Sparks made her feature film debut playing the lead role in the music-themed “Sparkle,” a remake of the 1976 film inspired by the story of The Supremes. Sparkle was filmed in the fall of 2011 and also starred Whitney Houston.
“I would love to say that my journey has been amazingly straight, but it’s been up and down and all around in curlie cues and circles, and I think that’s how everybody is, but in terms of music lyrically there are things I try and stay away from,” she told TLA. “I know some things I did were crazy. I see pictures of myself a couple years ago and I don’t even recognize myself and I am like ‘What was I doing?’ Who, where was I? And I was not where I could have been.”
At Harvest America, Sparks sang “My Redeemer Lives” and also sang Crystal Lewis’ “Come Just as You Are” as part of the call to the field by Harvest pastor Greg Laurie for those making decisions to follow Jesus. She also was able to give a brief testimony of her life from the stage, led by questions from Laurie.
“The great thing about Jesus and about God is that he uses you right where you are, as you are, so even if there was a time like I wasn’t really seeking him he was still using me and even now when I am seeking him a lot deeper,” she told TLA.
Sparks added, “Not that I did anything crazy, but little compromises, a couple months later and all of a sudden you’re like how did I get here? But God is so good in his grace and pulling you back.”
She said that moving to L.A. presented its challenges which she was eventually able to overcome by finding a church family.
“I didn’t move there immediately after winning Idol. I moved there about 3-and-a-half years ago and it was difficult because I moved by myself,” Sparks explains. “I do have family there but they’re working, their busy, they have a son in high school, but it was crazy.
“I didn’t have a home church. I didn’t have a base. I tried a few churches. It gets a little crazy because just like in Times Square, people are looking for people who do things in the industry so it’s kind of hard to be worshipping when people are trying to film you.
“So, there was a few churches that I tried and I was like this isn’t going to work for me. And finally, last year, I went to Angeles Temple in Echo Park, Pastor Matthew Barnett and Tommy Barnett (Phoenix First Assembly). I went and my life was absolutely changed. It was absolutely incredible.
“Jesus met me there and I had this moment of ‘Oh, my gosh. What am I doing? This is insane’ and it’s been amazing, diving in, seeking him, trying to get the Jesus who walks next to you,” she said. “I knew God the Creator of all things, but the person that walks right beside you every single day I’ve gotten to know him and it’s the most amazing thing. But there’s always going to be those times when I’m tempted to say ‘yes’ to do something and it’s not easy, but the good path isn’t always the easy path.”
When asked about where she is at in terms of the genres of worship and popular music she said, “I go back and forth on that. I think about that a lot. I love the music that I get to do because he’s placed me where I have an amazing platform. I know there are some songs that I did record that I will never sing that song live again.
“I will never do that again because the place I was in, where my mind was at, it was almost like I had this haze over everything that I did,” she continued. “But I was also not going to church consistently, I wasn’t diving into the Word, and I wasn’t surrounding myself with people that were like-minded or at least somebody that I could turn and talk to and it was hard to find moving out to L.A. when I did not know anybody.
“I finally found those people. It’s been amazing to get back on track. There are things that I try and stay away from lyrically but there are times when there are stories that are part of my testimony that if I want to write about them I’m going to write about them,” Sparks said. “The cool thing about what I do is that a song can reach so many people. It’s like a universal language and to not share some of the things that I’ve gone through I think would not only be a detriment to my testimony but to those people who need to hear it.”
She said she is in “this really cool place” where she has the freedom as an independant artist to choose whatever she wants to do musically. “If I want to cover a worship song I’m going to cover a worship song if I want to…Songs I’ve known my entire life but I’ve never performed them.”
She adds, “God is so good in that way because I felt so chained down for a long time. And when I say freedom, there’s a boldness for Christ that I got instantly after he hit me with a 2-by-4 last Easter and there’s just a boldness there but in that there’s also freedom.”