Walker – the visionary, founder, and Bishop of the Love Fellowship Tabernacle – has a new recording: “Azusa,” his 14th, coming out on June 11.
He recently spoke with ESSENCE.com about working with Deitrick Haddon and Donald Lawrence, obtaining a multicultural audience and he also shared his advice for the next generation of gospel stars.
Here’s some of that convo:
ESSENCE.com: “Every Praise” is your current single, but I have to say I just love that you remade “Break Every Chain” by Jesus Culture. It’s so unexpected.
HEZEKIAH WALKER: Of course you know I’m a choir man and when I first heard that song I kept saying to myself, ‘I would love to give it the choir treatment.’ I could just hear my choir singing. I brought it to them and they loved it. We came up with that and it came up really good.
ESSENCE.com: You feature Deitrick Haddon on the song. What made you choose him?
WALKER: A lot of people don’t know that Deitrick is a choir man. When I first got introduced to him, he had a choir. He sang a song with his choir back in the day called “Chain Breaker” and it was similar to “Break Every Chain.” I just heard his voice on the song.
ESSENCE.com: In “Every Praise” you say you were inspired to acknowledge how different people praise.
WALKER: I’ve had the privilege of traveling and go to different places—I go to Africa every year, Japan, London. Just to see everyone praising differently has been eye-opening. I grew up in a setting that basically taught us that if you don’t do it like this then you’re doing it wrong. From traveling and seeing so many different expressions of praise, it’s amazing how everybody does it differently, but it’s all there to praise God. And so that’s why I wanted everyone to know that even though we’re all different or worship the same, all of our work is there to praise God. I was a little nervous to put the song out there because it’s a little different from the normal Hezekiah Walker but I wanted to show people out there that you can still be a choir and stay relevant. I think the greatest thing that has happened is that in my career I’ve never had the chance to perform in multicultural churches. And in the last seven weeks, “Every Praise” has been hitting the multicultural churches. Even Joel Osteen called me and said, ‘Hezekiah, I heard “Every Praise” and you have to come and do this at my church.’ I never leave my church on Sunday, but when Joel Osteen calls, you go. When you look at the multicultural churches and you see their choirs have all kinds of people. Joel Osteen’s has all backgrounds, all ethnicities. I think the choir is the thing that brings people together.
ESSENCE.com: Tell us about the name Azusa.
WALKER: The origin of the name is a street name in California. Back in 1906, a big revival broke out on that street and really that’s where a lot of the church as we know it today came from, especially those of us that have that Pentecostal background.