As one of the leading artists in the new school of gospel music, Jonathan McReynolds continues to uplift and inspire a new legion of loyal fans with his music — and COVID-19 is not going to slow him down.
The 30-year-old, Chicago native has been taking the quarantine in stride and says he’s focusing on the positive aspects of social distancing.
“It’s all about the phone, texting, making sure everybody is good. Church in a biblical sense is more about unity than a building. In 2020, we can stay connected to people,” McReynolds tells theGrio in an exclusive interview.
“My family and I still have weekly calls. Me and my management team still talk regularly. My friends and I talk more than ever. We probably have better attendance and better conversation at these digital birthday parties on Zoom than we do when we’re all at a restaurant.”
The pandemic isn’t stopping McReynolds from dropping new music, either. He just dropped a new single “Movin’ On” with Mali Music his EP, PEOPLE, is out April 24.
“It’s fun to do some low-maintenance stuff that people aren’t used to seeing from us. They’re not used to seeing us with no haircut or TV makeup or bright lights. I think artists are enjoying the rules changing. These rules allow sweatpants and messed up hair,” he said.
“Right now, we’re not artists and we’re not celebrities; we are just artistic humans. Rich and poor, talented, not as talented, pretty, crazy-looking; everyone is on the same wavelength and in the same predicament and that’s what gives us a sense of hope and eases this pain because we’re all suffering from this great pause together.”
Although the path forward isn’t entirely clear, McReynolds is using the uncertainty as a reminder of what he knows for sure.
“I was just calling my cousin to check on him and the family and while we were on the phone we heard gunshots going off outside his house. In that moment when I was so focused on this pandemic, I was quickly reminded how good God has been throughout so many things. I was sobered and humbled and inspired,” he explained.
“I realized how this is just another thing God is going to have to keep us through. God has gotten me through gun violence, through gang violence. If he keeps us through all of those other things, he will keep us through this.”
Another positive aspect of the coronavirus crisis is that people seem to be finding their way to gospel music, even if the genre was never appealing to them before.
“We had just released a new single, “People,” and we were expecting to be in the top 5 on the Billboard charts. When we looked it up, and “God Is Good,” an old song I recorded in 2018 was at No. 4. It was a random song, not even a single that was an extra song on the deluxe edition. That showed us that people are looking for answers and looking for some hope and something to speak to the situation,” he said.
“I think people are looking for that unchanging answer that has remained throughout centuries and I’m really excited about the new eyes and new attention and the new sense of gravity.
“Particularly us in America,” he continued. “We are all pretty spoiled and surface and we’re just lonely skating around life with our first world problems. Situations like this humble us and remind us that we can’t do it by ourselves.”
Although the music industry has been hit hard by the crisis and the future of concerts and touring remains shaky at best, McReynolds is confident we will all bounce back in time.
“Humans in general, we always find a way to adapt. There’s always gonna be a place for art and music. There’s always gonna be a place for ministry. We just have to figure out where that’s gonna live and how its gonna be,” he said.
“I’m pretty certain that as we continue to find ways to survive, we will eventually find ways to thrive as well.”