By Dan Kimpel
VaShawn Mitchell His Time, His Turn
As a young songwriter in Chicago working behind the scenes, VaShawn Mitchell says he always envisioned his career as a recording artist. “I had been writing and singing for almost 18 years, and I wondered, ‘When is my time?’ It relates to when I was in college. Sure, I could go to the lunchroom, but I couldn’t eat until I got a plate and sat down. I knew that when my time came, there would be enough for me, and everyone else behind me too.”
This philosophy is at the heart of Mitchell’s song “Be Fruitful,” and the lines, “Don’t be dismayed, it’s only delayed/It’s not only your time, but your turn.” He says he wrote these words as encouragement for anyone whose patience is being tested – to remind them that if they can endure, there will be blessings overflowing.
This creed has certainly proved prophetic for Mitchell, as the success of his EMI Gospel release Triumphant and the hit single “Nobody Greater” – a #1 Billboard Hot Gospel Radio Hit – resoundingly confirm.
As a songwriter, Mitchell has penned songs covered by Smokie Norful (“Help”), Bishop Paul Morton (“Cry Your Last Tear”), and Vanessa Bell Armstrong (“Just Can’t Stop”) among others. “When I write for other artists, I try to tap getting their messages across through the ministry of writing,” he says.
His own songs flow from a multitude of sources. “Sometimes I get the whole song; often times it comes in a word, a sentence or a message when I’m sitting at the piano and playing chords. Often it’s in the car, or watching television and seeing something on the news, or in church when I hear the pastor say something that strikes me.”
Mitchell now lives in Atlanta, and he is the minister of worship at the Higher Living Christian Church in Hampton, Georgia. “It’s a great experience,” Mitchell testifies. “I believe we can go out and bless people all over the place, but it’s great to bless your home at home on a weekly basis.” The ministry serves a congregation 10,000 members strong.
Still, he vows that his songs are meant to connect with people wherever they are. “Not necessarily in church or out of church, but the person. I sing songs of life, love and encouragement that point you to God and help you realize there is nothing greater regardless of what you see or go through. There is a conqueror within you. You are triumphant because His blood still works.”
What’s On My iPod?
“All the newer gospel songs from Byron Page, Jonathan Nelson, Myron Butler, and Smokey Norful. But I also have some Jazmine Sullivan, Chris Brown, Usher and Beyoncé. I believe there’s a message in all music, so my iPod goes from Karen Clark-Sheard to John Legend to Brandy – Full Moon is my favorite of hers.”