Like the invention of the internet and social media, the greatest achievements are born out of great need. In the case of award-winning gospel group, New Direction, the urgent need was to get young men and women off the tough streets of Chicago and into the life-building community of the church.
In 1994, Jeral Gray, Sr. had just been laid off from his job at a Chicago chemical plant Rather than despairing, he sensed that he was being unleashed for a higher purpose.
Jeral recalls, "I had been doing music part-time for most of my life and saw the amazing musical talent in the community around me. I saw the opportunity to help these young people devote their gifts -- and lives -- to Christ. I didn’t know what to expect, but I followed God’s call and have never looked back since."
The youthful group he founded took its name from its purpose: to provide a New Direction for young lives through innovative, high-energy gospel music. In creative partnership with his older brother, Percy Gray, Jr., they launched the group’s self-titled debut, New Direction, on Word Records in 1999; followed by Get Your Praise On a year later. In 2004, Gospo-Centric Records released their best-selling project, Rain, followed by Send the Praise in 2006. By 2008, New Direction had become one of gospel music’s premiere contemporary and hip-hop choirs, earning more than a dozen Stellar, Grammy, and Dove Award nominations including a nomination for 2007 Stellar Award for Contemporary Choir of the year.
In July 2009, New Direction debuted Destiny on Nashville-based New Haven Records, which is distributed to the faith-based market through Provident-Integrity Distribution and to the mainstream through SONY Distribution. Their fifth project took this Chicago-based vocal powerhouse to new creative heights, weaving an irresistible tapestry of passionate ballads, hip-hop jams, soul-infused jazz, and high energy praise and worship.
More recent singles "When All God's Children Get Together," which features Donald Lawrence, and "I’ve Got Favor" sent sonic waves through the gospel industry, culminating in a Stellar Award for Contemporary Choir of the Year at the 34th Annual Stellar Awards.