Other Roads: Phil Tarver, Gospel Voice on the Rise
Having sung with, written for, and often fronted Shekinah Glory Ministry to now, Tarver felt it was time to venture forth on a solo project; entering Billboard’s Top Gospel Album chart at #16 with “Draw Nearer” certainly wasn’t a bad way to start.
Phil Tarver has come far since pouring his energies into what he terms the “club band, garage band thing” in his native Chicago. Tarver is the son of Poplar Bluff resident Gerald Davis, and the grandson of area sports great Lonnie Davis, an esteemed figure in the athletic and business life of Poplar Bluff from the 1950s until his death in May of 1986.
This past fall Phil Tarver released his solo-debut CD, a no-holds-barred praise and worship celebration entitled Draw Nearer, through Universal Music’s new Christian Music division.
For years Tarver has enjoyed recording and touring success with Shekinah Glory Ministry, the Billboard-chart-topping praise and worship team that originated in his Chicago-area church, Valley Kingdom Ministries International. Shekinah Glory Ministry’s exciting 2001 debut CD, Praise Is What I Do, was handily certified RIAA gold; the title single was featured on the platinum-seller WoW Gospel 2003. SGM’s latest CD, simply called Jesus-–where Tarver leads on the foundation-shaking “Stomp”—entered Billboard’s Top Gospel Album chart at #2, peaked confidently at the top spot, and has been ensconced in the Top 10 for the past 21 weeks. Jesus is the follow-up to the group’s masterful 2004 Shekinah Glory LIVE CD.
Having sung with, written for, and often fronted Shekinah Glory Ministry to now, Tarver felt the time had come to venture forth on a solo project; entering Billboard’s Top Gospel Album chart at #16 with Draw Nearer certainly wasn’t a bad way to start. But this church elder stresses that it is a sense of mission, of pure and powerful calling, that drives the worship and teaching ministry of Shekinah Glory—at home as well as abroad, where believers numbering in the tens of thousands, particularly in South America, jam soccer stadiums and other major venues to share in their redemptive message.
Though he made his first solo appearance last fall on Black Entertainment Television’s Bobby Jones Gospel, Tarver has already been featured several times with SGM on the popular weekly music series. SGM’s videos are in rotation on BET’s Sunday morning gospel line-up, and the group has been featured at Jones’s annual New Artist’s Showcase in Hollywood, FL as well.
With SGM’s increasingly large and dedicated following here at home, it is not unusual for them to find themselves sharing the spotlight with such contemporary gospel giants as Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Fred Hammond, and Israel and New Breed at events like the Stellar Awards, and the Steve Harvey-hosted Celebration of Gospel.
Tarver, wife Vondrea, and their children visit southeast Missouri when his touring schedule and other, more typical, demands permit. For them, reunions and holidays have always meant gathering together in gratitude for the great blessing of family. Too, says Tarver: “I think it would be wonderful to come down one day and get together with some of the talented groups singing in the Poplar Bluff area, and see what we can come up with.”
Once you’ve experienced the reverence and the jubilation that mark both Jesus and Tarver’s own solo outing, Draw Nearer, you’ll no doubt want to be front and center for that date in the Bluff.
Check out Phil Tarver at MySpace!
Phil Tarver YouTube clips, plus more on Shekinah Glory Ministry CDs, may be found here.
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