One of six children born in Baltimore, Maryland, Nelson grew up in church. "Everybody in my family works in ministry," he says. "My father, James Nelson, was pastor of Greater Bethlehem Temple Church for over thirty years and my mom served as First Lady."Nelson's family was also musical. "My grandmother played piano," he continues. "I had two uncles who were musicians. We just grew up playing and singing in church."
Gospel singer, minister, songwriter, and producer Jonathan Nelson first found success with a pair of Columbia-issued albums in 2008 and 2010, but it was his chart-topping third album, Finish Strong (2013), that put him on the map.
A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Nelson was raised in the church. His father was a pastor, his mother served as first lady, and his relatives were musicians, all of which led the budding artist to the Baltimore School for the Arts and Morgan State, where he studied choir. Nelson hit it big as an executive with a computer software company, but nearly lost everything in the 2001 dot-com collapse. It was then that he began his music career in earnest, writing and recording with his vocal ensemble, Purpose.
Nelson released his major-label debut, Right Now Praise, in 2008, earning himself a Dove nomination for New Artist of the Year. Both his debut and 2010 follow-up, Better Days, were issued on Columbia's Integrity imprint and reached the Top Ten of Billboard's gospel charts. After moving to Karen Clark-Sheard and J. Drew Sheard's Karew label in 2013, Nelson made his biggest commercial breakthrough with the gospel chart-topping Finish Strong. After a three-year gap, he issued Fearless, making his debut for the eOne-associated Light label. Further establishing himself on the Light roster, Nelson returned in 2018 with Declarations, an album that saw him duetting with the great Cece Winans on the song "Because You Are."