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    After being laid off from his job at a chemical plant, Jeral Gray formed the choir in 1994, with the mission of bringing more youth into the church and giving young singers (16-25 years old) an opportunity to use their talents for the Glory of the Lord, thus giving them "an alternative to the distractions of the streets, which can be alluring." Jeral explains, "I had been doing music part-time for most of my life, and I just felt a prompting telling me it was time to make that the focus of my life. I didn't know what to expect, but I followed that word, and I never looked back since."

    Looking around his hometown of Chicago, he saw a lot of talented young Christian musicians, all looking for ways to serve the Lord with their considerable vocal gifts. After feeling a strong personal call from the Lord to be in ministry to the younger generation, starting with youth of his community, Jeral got to work, enlisting the help of his older brother, Percy, who soon became "an integral part of the aggregation." Jeral Gray explains, "Everything we do, my brother and I do together. It wasn't long before he became a part of things. He has definitely been co-owner of this choir and its vision...and my key inspiration from the beginning." Percy Gray, Jeral's older brother became the founding onstage director for this choral group. As of 2004, the New Direction Choir has grown to 43 voices (median age: mid 20's) accompanied by a five member contemporary Gospel band.

    Under the label of Myrrh Records, their first album was released in May 4, 1999, entitled NEW DIRECTION. Their second album was released in 2000, entitled GET YOUR PRAISE ON. Both albums received multiple Stellar and Grammy Award nominations. Under the label of Gospocentric Records, RAIN is their 3rd album, released February 24, 2004, which promises to bring them front and center in the Gospel community and broaden their audience appeal to include a much wider following, across generations and denominations, due to the nature and fresh mix of Gospel styles found throughout this new CD. After RAIN was released, New Direction went on tour with other Gospocentric artists, a tour called "Experience The New Life Tour," which happened during Feb. - March 2004. Byron Cage, Natalie Wilson & SOP, Ramiyah and RiZen also toured with New Direction.

    Today, Jeral and Percy Gray describe their involvement with New Direction as ones of "overseers," keeping New Direction on track, each with a specific expertise, as well as equally sharing credits as the group's arrangers, producers and co-writers of most of the musical/vocal compositions. Although Jeral Gray no longer performs with New Direction, he is still its "behind-the-scenes" man in matters of business and creativity. Percy Gray is no longer the on-stage director of New Direction. Instead, he now finds his talents being put to good use as both a vocalist for New Direction and the "exhorter" of their audiences and congregations during New Direction's performances, following the example set by one of his earlier mentors, Rev. Milton Brunson.

    Entry lasted edited by timholleyos on 06.23.09
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