Hope and Serenity are two friends living their dream. Last winter, the Southern Maryland-based duo of Gloria White (“Serenity”) and Carmen Washington (“Hope”) released their debut album “Jesus, You’re Beautiful,” a non-traditional gospel record featuring smooth jazz accented by praise and worship lyrics.
Lead vocalist Gloria explains the divine inspiration behind the project. “We only intended to cut a couple of singles, but each song branched into a different direction with distinct messages.”
The underlying message, they discovered, was love. Specifically, God’s love that was totally different from the love being displayed by those who profess to be followers of Jesus Christ. Carmen, who played all the instruments on the record, says before entering the studio, the Holy Spirit directed she and Gloria to meditate on scriptures about God’s love. Gloria says, “If I were the only person on this earth, he would have come and died for me.
“He was mindful of us even before the foundation of the world,” she goes on to say. “God knew we were going to need a savior. For that reason alone, He is beautiful.”
The album also includes songs written from personal experience. “Where is Your Faith?” is inspired by Gloria’s dying mother’s refusal to accept her doctor’s grim diagnosis while the reflective melody of “Love” is dedicated to Carmen’s late mother.
Although Godly love and passion are cornerstones of Hope and Serenity’s music, the duo didn’t always experience that same love. Recalling a cool reception from those they thought would be proud of their accomplishments, the women admit that the absence of a traditional gospel sound coupled with romantic overtones of their music shocked some but “one by one, they came in the dark of night with congratulations,” remembers Gloria, calling it The Nicodemus Effect.
These days, Hope and Serenity are putting the finishing touches on their new EP, tentatively called Ordinary People. Gloria says the title track was inspired by friends and neighbors who blessed them during the recording of our first album.
“We didn’t have all the resources we needed to finish the record, then out of nowhere, God sent people with acts of kindness,” says Gloria. “’Ordinary People’ is about those who make a difference in God’s kingdom.” Sticking to their formula of scripture based smooth jazz, the song “Praise the Lord” is a mellow groove influenced by 2 Chronicles 20:21-22 when Jehoshaphat’s chosen singers defeated an army by singing “Praise the Lord, His mercy endureth forever.”
Meanwhile, Hope and Serenity are eager to spread the message of God’s love through song to Washington, D.C., Maryland and beyond. Gloria says, “We are proud to share the great news about His love to a vastly broken world.”
Hope and Serenity’s music can found on CDbaby.com, googleplay.com, amazon.com and iTunes. Visit their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/HopeAndSerenity.
Photos are courtesy of Abba Ishola of Ishola Photography.
Kay Poiro is a freelance writer living in St. Mary’s County, Maryland. I’m also a former columnist for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin newspaper and Staff Writer for Hawaii Parent magazine. Most recently, I was a community reporter for the St. Mary’s County County Times newspaper, where I met Hope and Serenity. Contact her at email@example.com