EPM Music Group and PrazKeez Media have announced a Black History Month collaboration between Gospel Superstar Earnest Pugh and Dr. Jamal H. Bryant, Senior Pastor at Atlanta’s New Birth Missionary Baptist Church. The track, “Keep Hope Alive,” was produced by GRAMMY® Award-winning producer Cedric Thompson and Keith Williams, CEO of PrazKeez Media and former pianist for Rev. Donald Vails. The song is the first release under the EPM Music Group’s new partnership with Shanachie Entertainment, an independent recording company known for its eclectic roster of Roots, Adult R&B, Gospel, and Smooth Jazz artists.
“But didn’t you know why so many doors were being opened for you,” Dr. Bryant sermonizes in the opening of this inspiring and hopeful ballad that shows off Pugh’s stunning high notes and soulful style of crooning. “God is not answering your prayer. He’s answering the prayer of somebody who had the audacity of hope.”
“Keep Hope Alive” was originally written and recorded by the late choirmaster, Rev. Donald Vails, for the 1992 Gospel Music Workshop of America LP entitled, Live from Salt Lake City, Utah. It borrowed from the Civil Rights anthem, “We Shall Overcome,” and Rev. Jesse Jackson’s “Keep Hope Alive” slogan that was popular during his 1984 U.S. Presidential campaign. The original album peaked at No. 23 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums sales chart in 1992. “The song resonated in my heart this year more than ever,” says Pugh. “So, I felt an urgency to insert this message into today’s climate of civil unrest, police brutality, and social injustice as a shot in the arm that will empower us with a greater determination to be hopeful that things will get better.”
The “Keep Hope Alive” single is currently available at all digital music platforms. Pugh is also set to release his 13th album, Fully Persuaded (EPM / Shanachie), in the second quarter of 2023. The project features appearances by Zacardi Cortez, Nakita Foxx, and Crystal Aiken. The hip-slapping current radio single, “God Did It,” has risen to No. 25 on the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart and continues to build at the gospel format.