Destiny for some is a direct route. For others, there are twists and turns. Theresa Pinkney would fall in category of the latter, but with the voice of an angel and a pure love for God, destiny delayed is not destiny denied. Gospel artist Theresa Pinkney recently released her 15-track CD entitled Me Against The World. From Gifts of the Spirit Music, the project is the psalmist’s debut into the gospel music industry. Already capturing the ear of gospel music fans and industry folks alike, Pinkney brings a sincerity and sweetness that is rarely witnessed in today’s artists. Although she is a new voice in gospel music, she carries a captivating soprano, a passion for ministry and a desire for God to touch the world through her.
For Theresa, life began in a one-parent household with a mother who was the backbone of her family. Although they lived in what Theresa terms as “the projects” in Northeast Washington, D.C., there was plenty of love to go around and church was always a part of their Sunday mornings. First she was spiritually nurtured at a local Baptist church, then a “holiness” church, growing up with “the fear of God” in her. But for Theresa, church was also the beginning of her love affair with gospel music. Listening to the choir, her heart was touched and she saw how others were moved by the power of the music. At the tender age of 7, not only did she receive salvation, but she made it her life’s goal to become a singer – that was after countless bedroom “performances” to a captivated crowd of dolls and stuffed animals. Although shy, music was an outlet for her.
Years later, she was accepted at one of the Nation’s Capitol’s most prestigious arts schools, Duke Ellington School for the Arts. As she attended Duke Ellington, she felt like a fish out of water. Coming from the streets of Northeast, D.C., to the elite community of Georgetown was a culture shock for her. She says it was “the best experience” of her life, taking her out of a toxic environment. “I honestly believe that music saved my life,” says Theresa. “It wasn’t that I was a bad kid, but music kept me out of trouble.” Not only was the experience an eye-opening one culturally, but musically as well. She learned classical music and sung songs from the school’s repertoire of German and Italian. In addition, she started singing R&B music along with gospel music. Her time there further solidified her calling to music.
She took a master’s class for vocalists with well-known gospel artist and Broadway star Yolanda Wyns. Wyns not only taught Theresa vocal techniques to better her singing, but she encouraged her, mentored her and helped set her on the path to her musical destiny. Once coming back from New York City, she joined the contemporary gospel group Just Breathe. Just Breathe was not only a good experience for her musically, but as she grew closer to the group’s members, her shyness melted away. Although she loved the group, it came a time for her to, as she says, “step out from hiding behind other people, face the fears and walk in boldness”. She knew it was time to sing songs the way that Theresa Pinkney interpreted them.
That was the impetus for the new CD, Me Against The World. A diverse collection of sounds and influences, the CD is the artist’s debut onto the gospel music stage. Featuring contemporary gospel, urban, jazz and other musical styles, the overwhelming theme is God’s love. She tapped gospel artist Jocelyn aka iNDIGO for the project as principal songwriter and co-producer. Joining the production team is Dewayne “DJ Bam The Gospel DJ” Staten and Elliot Jefferson. Theresa also wrote three songs (“Silent Praise”, “Never Alone” and “Count It All Joy”) and co-wrote three songs (“Follow Him”, “You Are” and “Closer Walk With You”) for the CD release.
Not only are all the songs an inspiration to those who listen, but the songs minster to the artist herself. “Never Alone” is a beautiful ballad performed exquisitely by Theresa with guest backing vocals by Jesus Groupies United. The song’s lyrics, inspired by Theresa and her husband’s struggle to conceive, remind the listener that no matter what happens (or does not happen), God never leaves us alone. “Through the experience, both my husband and I understand that it’s not about what we want,” shares Theresa. “It’s about God’s will, which we know is best for us.”
It’s clear that Theresa has no problem pouring out her heart and struggles in her music, evident by the song “Me Against The World”. Speaking of her determination to press on no matter what, the lyrics inspire the listener to never give up. Not only was the song the first she ever recorded, but the actual recording itself was a huge step of faith for the artist; during the process, she became determined not to let anything or anyone stop her; that determination was put to the test. The passing of her good friend and mentor in early 2011 placed her in one of the most turbulent storms of her life. It’s also why the track, “Promise”, holds such a special place in Theresa’s heart. It was her friend’s favorite song and was a great source of comfort during her final days.
At the end of the project, Theresa wants to leave listeners with one message: boldness. “I want people who listen to my project to learn to walk in boldness and not in fear. I want people to shine their light as bright as they can; don’t ever let anyone dim your light. Don’t conform to the world; let the world conform to you.”