Teacher fill­ing up sin­gles charts

A char­ter school teacher living in Suwa­nee has been called one of the most promis­ing gospel singers,

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution - - FRONT PAGE - By She­lia M. Poole spoole@ajc.com

Casey J has been called one of the most promis­ing singers on the gospel mu­sic scene.

She cur­rently holds spots on mul­ti­ple Bill­board charts, in­clud­ing the No. 2 spot on Bill­board’s Hot Gospel Songs, with the soul­ful “Fill Me Up.”

To her el­e­men­tary school stu­dents, how­ever, she’s sim­ply known as Ms. Hobbs.

“Some may have heard (the song) but they prob­a­bly haven’t made the con­nec­tion,” said Casey J, aka Casey J. Hobbs.

If her al­bum fol­lows the sin­gle on the charts, that may not be for long.

Her per­for­mance of the song, penned by Will Rea­gan, who also wrote Tasha Cobbs’ hit “Break Ev­ery Chain,” has re­ceived more than 540,000 views on YouTube.

And this spring, Casey J, 28, of Suwa­nee, will re­lease her fresh­man CD project, “The Truth,” on Tyscot Records. It was recorded re­cently at Fresh Start Church in Du­luth, where she is a mem­ber and also serves as wor­ship leader.

The CD will in­clude 12 tracks, four of which she wrote and one she co-wrote.

It also fea­tures Stel­lar Award win­ner Ja­son Nel­son. Dur­ing the record­ing ses­sion, Casey J shared sto­ries about her 84-yearold grand­mother, Dorothy Mae Choates, teach­ing her hymns and hold­ing re­vival meet­ings in the base­ment of Choates’ home. She brought her on stage to sing, “”No, Not One!” with her, which will be in­cluded in the CD.

Dar­lene McCoy, host of the Dar­lene McCoy Show on Praise 102.5 has known Casey J for years and de­scribes the young singer’s work as “hon­est and trans­par­ent wor­ship.” McCoy was on hand as Casey J recorded the CD project and calls it in­cred­i­ble. “You can tell this is not en­ter­tain­ment,” McCoy said. “For her, it’s min­istry. She means ev­ery­thing she sings.”

Casey J’s tal­ent is ev­i­dent “in the way the gospel in­dus­try has re­ceived a to­tal un­known per­son,” said McCoy. “It’s like she came out of nowhere.”

Like many singers, Casey J cut her vo­cal teeth in church.

Although she loves teach­ing, Casey J dis­cov­ered her pas­sion for mu­sic as a lit­tle girl in the choir at Lilly Hill Bap­tist Church in De­catur, where her mother served as choir direc­tor and her grand­mother sang in the choir.

Later, at the age of 12, she joined the At­lanta Young Singers of Cal­lan­wolde and sang with them un­til she en­rolled at the Uni­ver­sity of Ge­or­gia. Even­tu­ally, she be­came part of the gospel girl group 4LOVE.

Singing be­came like a “lan­guage unto it­self.”

“I en­joy hav­ing a way to com­mu­ni­cate with God, for him to com­mu­ni­cate with me and to com­mu­ni­cate for God with other peo­ple.”

Mu­sic be­gan play­ing a larger role in her life sev­eral months ago when, while driv­ing to her pre­vi­ous teach­ing job, she got a strong mes­sage that God was call­ing her to do more with her mu­sic min­istry. “I was serv­ing him, but I heard him say­ing ‘I want you to do more.’ ”

She prayed to God to tell her what he wanted and she would do it.

Things started fall­ing into place. She landed a new teach­ing job with a vir­tual char­ter school that al­lowed her to de­vote more time to her mu­sic min­istry. And she moved to Suwa­nee, which is closer to her church.

She wants her sound to be “im­per­fect” not over­pro­duced.

“I want it to be the kind of wor­ship peo­ple can have in their cars and in their homes,” she said. “There are amaz­ing artists in the gospel in­dus­try who can sing. They are ex­tremely tech­ni­cally skilled and spir­i­tu­ally pro­fi­cient. That’s not nec­es­sar­ily what I’m called to do. I’m called to sing some­thing you can sing. Whether you’re the best singer doesn’t mat­ter. I think I sing al­right and singing is some­thing I’ve done a lot of.”

Take a lis­ten to Casey J.

CON­TRIB­UTED BY AL­WON MAY­WEATHER

Casey J, a teacher and wor­ship leader, has stormed the gospel charts with “Fill Me Up.” She re­leases her first CD later this year.

CON­TRIB­UTED

Casey J. will soon re­lease her fresh­man CD project af­ter hit “Fill Me Up” lands her on charts.

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