Restine Jackson interview: ‘At the end of the day, it’s about ministry’

Restine Jackson is making major moves this year!

He’s been a fixture on the gospel music scene and one of the D.C.’s area most energetic artists.  Now, after joining  a label,  gospel singer, songwriter, producer and composer Restine Jackson will hold his EP release concert, ‘No Fear’ on Saturday, March 3 at 6 p.m. at  Journey of Faith Church in Waldorf, MD  The concert is free.

PositivelyGospel caught up with Restine a few days before the concert. During the interview, Restine talked about his recent signing with a label, the story behind his EP, and the lessons he’s learned after nearly two decades in the gospel music industry. He also shared some helpful tips for up and coming artists trying to navigate the industry.

Restine Jackson signed to Dream Gospel/The Platform Agency/Capitol Christian in December, 2017. It was a move away from his longstanding role as an independent artist.

You’ve been an independent artist for quite some time. Why did you think now was the right time to sign with a label?
“A larger platform. I’ve been in this industry for quite some time doing independent. I just felt I needed some more assistance to take the music to the next step, the next level. With Dream, it gives me not only a larger platform but more resources, as well being able to reach more people. At the end of the day, it’s about ministry. It’s about making a difference in music and you want to reach as many people as possible. For me, I looked at that and thought it was definitely the time to make that change, make that shift. I still have my record label (Wondrous World Records) as well, but now I’m just an artist on Dream. I’ve been praying and believing God for the right opportunity and sometimes you’ve just got to trust God and be patient until He opens the right door.”

Tell me about your, EP ‘No Fear.’ Why that title?
“If you look back at my earlier projects, all my songs were praise-oriented. This one is the first one that I feel Restine Jackson No Fear releases March 2kind of speaks to people, as far as encouraging them. It’s really just a season that I’ve been to where after my father passed, I really dealt with and struggled with just anxiety and fear. He was my best friend, so all that time having that person that I can talk to; someone that I can just rely on and so I feel like God has me in a growth process through that. Once I got the label deal you would have thought that I would have been ecstatic, but actually I had an overwhelming sense of fear and anxiety to the point to where I literally was waking up in the middle of the night because I couldn’t sleep. I just so troubled. When you are independent you can kind of do stuff in your own timeframe. Now there are deadlines to meet. You have phone calls and different things; legal matters that need to be taken care of and so for me, it was just overwhelming. I can remember waking up and just praying and crying out to God like ‘God just help me’ and He really dropped a song in my spirit. He was like ‘Restine, you know everything is new; everything is going to be new.’ After he spoke that in my spirit, He gave me the song “No Fear.” So, it’s like literally God penned every single word to that song. I didn’t have to try to think or mediate or anything like that. It’s literally like God gave me the words. I got up about four in the morning and just started writing, with tears in my eyes. Through that I have just been reminded through this whole process that God is with me; I don’t have to fear, and I need to be continually walking in the power of God. It really was a song that ministered to me and I feel like God really penned the song and gave it to me as a way to encourage me. So, my hope is that as people hear it, that it will encourage them the way that it encouraged me.”

What would you say to people who looking to branch out and do something different and might experience fear or may be feeling apprehensive.
“I think it’s important to remember that God is always there. It’s a lot of times after my father passed that I almost felt alone. You can have friends, family, but I think that the biggest thing to me was to know and have the confidence that even though I may feel a certain way, I cannot be ruled by my feelings. I think emotions and feelings are so fleeting. One minute you can feel good; the next minute you’re feeling bad. Always remember that God is with us. We know His word say He’ll never leave us nor forsake us, but I think oftentimes times in those moments, especially when you’re stepping out on faith and you’re trying to do something new, oftentimes we have a tendency where we want to stay in the same place. I literally preached this sermon not long about how when Peter walked on the water. Jesus literally made the disciples get on the boat because the disciples had just witnessed Jesus feed the 5,000 so for them, they wanted to stay where the miracles were at. But God was like ‘look, there are more miracles to be done on the other side of the sea.’ That says to me that oftentimes we want to stay put. It’s comfortable for me to be an independent. I’m used to having total control; to be able to do what I want to do; when I want to do it. It’s something that you almost feel a sense of loss, even though you’re making advancement. You have to realize the loss of that we feel holds us in a place when God is really trying to take us to another place so that he can work another miracle, but we want to stay where he did his last thing. So that’s how I would encourage people, that a lot of times we don’t realize that it’s fear. We think we are being wise, we call it being smart or intellectually sound, but the things that God wants to do, don’t really make sense all the time.”

Restine Jackson has been wowing audiences for years with his up-tempo urban style of praise and is known for his memorable, energetic performances.

Restine Jackson at Jimmy Russell Live Recording
Restine Jackson performs at Jimmy Russell Live Recording, Sept 2017

You have such a unique style. Who are your musical influences?
“To be honest, growing up I didn’t listen to secular music, so I don’t have secular influences that some people did. My father was a pastor and I can remember him finding some rap album; it might have been NWA and I can remember him putting the CD on the stove and burning them, so I didn’t have those influences. I didn’t listen to Michael Jackson, Prince or any of them. I grew up listening to The Winans. We’re originally from Detroit, so Marvin Winans was a big influence. If I ever have a chance to sing or to do something with him, I would love to do it. Deitrick Haddon he’s a big influence on me I can remember seeing Deitrick when I was 16 or 17 when I had just started my group in Detroit. I was dating his sister at the time and I remember seeing him. He is the first artist that I saw that dressed up. He was doing a Caribbean song and he had on a dreadlock wig and African colors and I remember him changing clothes. I was like ‘wow this is the direction gospel music needs to go.’ Now everybody is doing different things. Oftentimes it makes it harder for me, although you would think that it makes it easier.”

You’ve been in this business for a long time. What have you learned that has stuck with you?
“One thing is that relationships are important and building those relationships are vitally important. Resources are vitally important. Sometimes the resources can create the relationship. I think the music in and of itself is just one of the elements to this whole business. But it’s really about relationship and having the resources, even with those relationships because at the end of the day, it really takes resources in order to move people, to move artist where they need to be. The conferences that we go to, those are all well and good. I think more artists need to be able to get there and work their project. outside of their local area. One of the biggest things I’ve done over the last 2-3 years is I hit the road. While other artists may sit at home and be like ‘man I ain’t doing that.’ I literally during my spring break I was on the road down south the whole week and took my whole family. We were piled in a rental car, going from city to city instead of going on vacation. I can’t count how many times I’ve done that. We went to Disney world, but on the way to Disney world, I did a radio run instead of flying down. So, I feel like all of those things are the type of things that artists that need to value and realize that nobody is going to invest in you if you’re not willing to invest in yourself. Those are the lessons that I’ve learned over the last 10-20 years.”

You mentioned resources. Are there other types of resources besides finances that artists need?
“To blatantly honest, I really feel that finances is one of the big motors. It’s a business. I’ll never forget when I first started I was like ‘okay this is total ministry’ and it is ministry, but don’t leave out how important the business is. For instance, I have a friend or buddy who’s in the industry, but I’m not going to ask my buddy to start coming for free. You still want to treat your friend correctly. You still want to take care of this person. You may say hey I may come at a reduced rate or I’ll do this as a favor. The way the industry really works is to have the willingness to have the resources; the finances to be able to say, ‘well I want you to come to my conference or be part of this. I’m not asking you to come for nothing or do a favor.’ A lot of times I don’t think people understand the working behind the scenes of how industry work and what’s really going on. I really think finances are crucial. There are other resources that can be of assistance. Learning the business, I think that’s very important, knowing how to get publishing; your money from your songwriting; knowing how to negotiate as far as any type of contractual relationship; different things like that. There are other resources that you have to know, but you need to have some sort of financial backing, so you don’t just do a project and it’s sitting there. You must have the money to be able to promote; to have the money to establish these relationships and to go places so that you can meet the people that you need to meet and put your music in people’s

Restine has assembled a diverse group of artists and hosts for the evening. Hosted by Charles Butler and Cheryl Jackson, the concert will feature Anita Wilson, Tyler Little and Sean Tillery and Changed and Journey of Faith Choir.

What can we expect at the concert on Saturday?
“It’s at my home church where I’ve served as minister of music for ten years. My idea was to draw in a different Restine Jackson concert will hold free EP release concertaudience. People know what to expect when they see Restine. Maybe they don’t; people say I’m all over the place (laughs). With Anita Wilson, you’re going get that church, that good singing. Sean Tillery is a total church choir and Tyler Little from Sunday Best. My idea was to have a well-rounded concert. So, if you like flat footed singing, if you like choir music, you’re going to get it. If you’re someone who likes it more wild and crazy like Deitrick, then you got Restine Jackson! I think people who come will definitely enjoy themselves and be exposed to maybe a different type of music that they’ve never heard. I can hardly wait for Saturday to get here. Were going to have a high time in God!”

No Fear is available now at all digital outlets.     Journey of Faith Church is located at 2900 Smallwood Drive West, Waldorf, MD 20601.

For more information on Restine Jackson, visit restinejackson.com. Connect with him on Facebook, Twitter (@RusJackson) and Instagram (@RusJackson).

Sarah Hearn
the authorSarah Hearn
Sarah Hearn is Editor-in-Chief of PositivelyGospel.com, 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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