Pastor Moore’s latest release: Distinctive, memorable, uplifting
STEUBENVILLE — Lyrics and tunes you’ll find running through your mind and heart, with power, warmth, spirituality and beauty are the work of Bishop Jermaine V. Moore, who brings modern styles from R&B, modern gospel, a bit of metal and jazz and old-school soul stirring to “Beyond the Gates.”
The latest in a series of albums from Moore, pastor of Mount Zion Baptist Church, 221 N. Seventh St., was released May 6.
The depth comes from the songwriting of Moore with the power coming from his soul through his deep voice. The sound is distinctive, memorable and uplifting.
This is not just another gospel album. There are songs here that will stick in the listener’s head, including “Higher,” which begins with an almost Miami-style salsa beat and then progresses to near metal and a solo riff by Steubenville’s Mike Ofca, whose Innovation Studios pulled together the final mix from live recordings made at Mount Zion by Moore.
Moore plays drums, keyboards, sings and exhorts the listeners to raise their spirits to the higher calling. Ofca’s guitar is joined by Chris Stafford of Jacksonville, a friend of Moore’s, who provides complex bass progressions. Backing vocals that join to form amazing chord runs are provided by Michael and Justice Jett, Quandee Hudson and Maleia Mason.
In addition to “Higher,” the album includes airworthy tracks such as “Because We Know Your Name,” which raises the listener to the positive power of praise and prayer, to an amazing old-school rendition sung solo by Moore of “Amazing Grace.”
It’s part of a musical lifetime for Moore. The 35-year-old pastor who began preaching at age 12 started playing music at age 6, when he picked up the alto sax. Along the way, he’s added drums and piano.
The tracks for “Beyond the Gates” were captured in a full recording studio at Mount Zion. Michael Jett got Moore and Ofca together and “Beyond the Gates” was put together during a period of six or seventh months, going to the studio every week.
Moore has put out other projects, but he said “Beyond the Gates” is different.
“A lot of projects I’ve done before haven’t really moved. They were just for one stream of audience,” Moore said. “I was very intentional on this project to making it appeal to everybody — all ethnicities, black, white, it didn’t matter. I wanted the music to be very simple but strong. I didn’t want to put out a project where you have to have a degree to sing it and play it. I wanted the project to be where the praise and worship leader at any church will hear a song and say they can take it back to their church and sing it.”
Moore wrote the songs “pretty much birthed out of life’s experiences and my own personal testimonies. There are things I thank God for. The first song on the project, ‘Because We Know Who You Are,’ it’s intentional. We bow down, we present our bodies as a living sacrifice. As much as he does for us every day,” he said.
The songs were written long ago, Moore said, with the only new work being “Jesus I Love You,” which melds Moore’s vocals that vary from smooth to full-tilt, full-throat exhortations and the repetitive backing singers and an acoustic Ofca into a mind-widening work that will be sung in the listener’s head for hours to come.
Moore, 35, and his family, wife Tikisha and sons Jakeden and Jermaine Jr., came to Steubenville in 2016. He said Jermaine Jr. can sing, but he’s into sports now.
“I don’t force it on him. I want it to come natural. They didn’t force it on me as a kid. It came. I was into sports, too,” Moore said.
Asked what he hopes listeners take with them after listening to “Beyond the Gates,” Moore said he hopes it truly brings people “beyond the gates.”
“Scripture says, ‘Enter into his gates with thanksgiving. Enter his courts with praise.’ We thank God for the gates, but how many times do we get to the gate and we’re stuck there? We should go into the courts, his inner courts,” Moore said. “I’m hoping this project takes people into the most intimate place with God as opposed to being at the gate and looking in.”
He said the gate is the passageway, not like a fence that separates.
“You have to get into that inner place. That’s where healing takes place, psychological, physical. That’s where deliverance takes place. That’s where resolve takes place. That’s comfort, a peace that surpasses all understanding, that’s where all of that takes place,” Moore said. “My hope is that any listener, black, white, Baptist, Catholic, Presbyterian, whatever, can listen to this project, just a simple, praise and worship project, and it takes them into a place to where they can really be with God in the most intimate manner possible.”
Moore said he had lived in big cities and was music director at a church with thousands of members. When he came to Steubenville, he was worried about finding musical talent.
“I have some awesome people in my church. Mike Ofca is a breath of fresh air for me,” he said. “I was hoping this project will attract musicians and musical people, knowing that an opportunity will eventually come. They have a great gift and don’t mind honing their gift and we will get behind them and one day they will have their own musical project.”
He said he did just that with Michael Jett, producing a single that will be introduced at the “Beyond the Gates” release party at 8 p.m. July 27 at Mount Zion.
Moore will be at a CD signing hosted by Brooklyn Bagel at Franciscan Square from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday.
The party will be a part of a very busy week at Mount Zion, which includes Vacation Bible School, a bookbag giveaway for schoolchildren and a visit from Bishop Kenneth Robinson for Family and Friends Day.
Moore is available for appearances through God Sent/Masterplan Management, (215) 300-1384.