Interview: Pastor Riva Tims Talks About New Album, 'Access Granted' + Life After Tragedy

Dr. Riva Tims has been captivating audiences for years with her dynamic sermons. Now the celebrated preacher has launched into the world of gospel music with her debut CD, Riva Tims & Majestic Praise, Access Granted.  The album’s single, “Incredible God” has hit radio and reached the Top 50 on the BDS Gospel charts. had an opportunity to speak with Pastor Tims who pastors Majestic Life Church and co-founded New Destiny Christian Center in Orlando, FL, with  her former husband, the late Dr. Zachery Tims.  Pastor Tims discussed the album, her introduction to the gospel industry and how she and her children are doing after experiencing a tragic loss.

What made you decide to get into the music business? “Honestly, it was a word from the Lord. We were in church and I distinctly heard him say we need to do a CD. One of the things that I’ve found in worship is that it goes hand in hand with the preaching. Worship sets the atmosphere, worship is a place where healing and deliverance comes. It just opens up the airwaves for the word to come forward and that’s one of the things that I love, I just love worship. We have such an awesome worship team that I distinctly heard the Lord say we need to do a CD. I didn’t really know what I was getting into at the time (laughs), but I was obedient and it’s just been a wonderful journey.”

Pastor Riva Tims Access Granted

What was the most surprising thing about recording an album? “All of the new technology, the mixing, the vocals, the layout. I didn’t realize that it encompassed so much, so just really the organization of it. It was pretty much learn as you go. But because our team was already pretty much well-versed in the music industry, we were able to do it with a spirit of excellence. I got more on the job training than anybody.”

Do you think this is something you would like to do again? “I really do think so. We actually created a record label, Zion records I am positive we’ll be doing more and we want to help others. One of my vision to always to understand the concept when you’re blessed you need a blessing and open doors for others. I’m looking forward to that with Zion records to help those that have that great talent that god has given them to give them a platform so that’s one of the reasons Zion Records was created. We’ve had a couple of inquiries already but we want to make sure that our CD gets to the place where we need it to go and then we can be that much wiser to help someone else.”

You have a lot of great artists on the album. How did you get connected with them and what made you think they were the right fit for the album? Shirley Murdock and I are friends; I’ve known her for quite some time. One of the songs we were moving with was the title song, “Access Granted” and they were describing a voice that they needed. I immediately thought of Shirley Murdock and she agreed to do it and it is a powerful song. I go to the Hilliard’s  (Bishop I.V. and Bridget) conference in Houston every year and Preasha Hilliard has an amazing deep rich voice and I knew that I would like her on my album and of course, John Wilds is in this area and his voice is incredible.”

I understand that “Access Granted” came from a sermon. What was that sermon dealing with? “It was one of our New Year’s Eve messages out of Numbers and it talked about the children of Israel trying to get to the promised land. When they finally got close to it, and they came up against the Amorites and all they said was, ‘let us go through your land, let us go through, we’re just trying to get to the promised land, we don’t want anything we don’t want your cattle we don’t want anything of yours. we just want to pass through the land’.  They met opposition, the king would not let them pass. So God gave them the strength and the Israelites stood up to the Amorites and as a result, they possessed the land, everything that was in the land. Sometimes our season will come where we think we’re just going to pass through or get something, but God wants us to have more. He wants us to have access granted and he also wants us to have the spoils as well. That’s where that song was birthed.”

When you were growing up, whose music did you enjoy and who do you enjoy now? “I grew up in a Baptist church so we listened to Andrea Crouch, Myrna Summers, I loved to hear her voice. Richard Smallwood, with the big sound. Today, I love worship, William McDowell, Yolanda Adams, Tasha Cobbs and the newer ones coming out that really have a heart for worship.”

Is worship a big part of the music that is played during service at your church? “It is a huge part. I always say songs are good that talk about God, but it’s even more important to talk to Him. When you talk to Him and you let Him know how you feel about Him there is just a whole other depth that you go into when you tell God ‘you are awesome, you’re amazing, you’re wonderful.’ It just fills the atmosphere with His presence and so that is one of the stronger points of our ministry.”

One of the songs on your album is “When It All Falls Apart” which is also the title of your book. Did you have a hand in helping to craft that song and do you feel the song really communicates your feelings about when it falls apart?  “I do.  Again, it was a message that I preached. A lot of the members have been reading the book. The praise and worship team, our music director Lydell Tate took the elements from that. Earnest Collins, who is also on our music team penned this song. It talks about, though you’re going through hard times, if you’re really real about it, things happen and it hurts and it’s painful, but when you come out of it, you don’t have to be bitter, you don’t have to be unforgiving and resentful; you come out with victory, you come out with love, with forgiveness. You come out with joy and joy does come in the morning. And that’s what this song really depicts, coming out empowered.”

Will you and Majestic Praise be making any appearances to promote the album? “Yes, they have they done GMWA, Radio One Praise in the Park in Indianapolis and they have other things that are coming up and they are also available for bookings. They are going to be coming with me on some of my speaking engagements. I’m ministering for Beverly Crawford in September and they’ll be with me then. I’m looking forward to that.”

Riva Tims and Access Granted  are climbing the BDS chart

How are you and your family doing? How are the kids doing now? “You know, we’re doing well. It’s been a journey, its been ups and downs, but through it all I believe that we have come through unscathed. The kids are doing much better with their strength and their healing. As a matter of fact, the anniversary of their dad’s death was yesterday (August 12 ), so it was a time of just being quiet, kind of reminiscing on all the good times and thinking about all of the positive things. That’s what we choose to do.”

Sarah Hearn
the authorSarah Hearn
Sarah Hearn is Editor-in-Chief of, founded in 2011. The site was recently named among Feedspot's Top Gospel and Christian Music Websites.  Sarah is a member of the National Association of Black Journalists and the Gospel Music Association.
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