Former Franklin man’s gospel song climbing the charts
Published 9:20 am Friday, February 22, 2013
BY STEPHEN H. COWLES/CONTRIBUTING WRITER
CHESAPEAKE—A song produced by a former Franklin resident Earl Bynum Jr. is making its way up the Billboard charts for gospel music.
“Bless the Name of the Lord,” which was released last March, has most recently move to No. 28.
That song will be included in a live album and DVD titled “Bishop K.W. Brown Presents Earl Bynum and The Mount Unity Choir.” The debut date is Tuesday, April 2.
Bynum, 47, is its executive minister of music at Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Chesapeake. Not only has he directed the choir for the album, he leads the 100-plus voices for services and concerts; he also co-produced the project, which was recorded live in September 2011.
Two performances, including the single, can be seen on BET/Bobby Jones Gospel program this season.
“As a child of 5 or 6, I was singing first,” Bynum said. “I remember my parents standing me up in a chair in church with a microphone.”
Piano lessons followed. That same piano remains at the home of his parents, Geneva and Earl M. Bynum Sr. of Franklin.
Learning the organ was added to the young man’s musical toolbox.
Growing up in church, Bynum said, it was “practically a given” that he would play for other congregations, such as New Mt. Zion or Shiloh Baptist in Boykins.
Though he thinks his voice is the better of the three instruments, Bynum’s strength is “putting people together whether they’re 10 or 10,000. I enjoy doing it.”
At Norfolk State University, he majored in voice with piano as a minor. Bynum became chorus director for Greenville County Public Schools and for four years was assistant band director in Franklin City Public Schools.
The position at Mount Lebanon came about when the church drummer, Chris Booker, texted Bynum about the opening and was he interested?
“I wasn’t at the time, but I did apply and got the job in December 2008,” he said.
As early as 1994, Bynum had experience producing an album for someone else. In 2010, he brought about “Open My Heart,” which was nominated for a Stellar Music Award in Nashville.
“It was always a vision of the pastor to do a recording. It was just a matter of time,” said Cynthia Beckwith, who sings and leads the alto section of the church choir. “When God gives a vision, it doesn’t have to be right then.”
She knew Bynum 10 years before at another church.
“He is truly gifted,” said Beckwith, 54.
While the pastor and his wife, Valerie, are executive co-producers, much of the responsibility has been on Bynum’s shoulders.
He already has a syndicated show on Rejoice Radio Network from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.
As a producer, Bynum explained, there are tasks of selecting or writing songs, arranging the music, getting instrumentalists and vocalists, the recordings, mixing and mastering.
In addition to the album’s CD, there will also be a DVD of the performance.
“Everything is falling into place. It’s a constant explosion of more growth and more voices. You know it’s from God,” said Beckwith. “We’re not just a church choir, but now a gospel artist and that requires going out.”
Radio tours are planned, said Bynum, adding the choir will make three tapings for the Inspirational TV Network in late August.
“This is just awesome being this is our first album,” said Bynum.
On release, the album and DVD will be sold at the church, Walmart, as well as iTunes and Amazon.