Jovonta Patton Reaches No. 1 on the Billboard Gospel Charts

His songs about marriage and fatherhood have taken him to the top of the Gospel charts—and caught Beyonce’s attention

Jovonta Patton’s songs about marriage and fatherhood have taken him to the top of the Gospel charts

Photo by jamey guy

Gospel singer and minister Jovonta Patton recorded the album Finally Living last year at Minneapolis’ Shiloh Temple International Ministries, where he often performs on Sundays. The album rose to No. 1 on the Billboard gospel chart and put him on the national radar. Last fall he was in the crowd at a Beyoncé concert when the megastar spontaneously singled him out to sing.

“I’m from the north side of Minneapolis. I graduated from Edison High School where I would sing the National Anthem and direct the high school choir and take part in talent shows. Music was always the playing field for me. I’ve been singing since I was 4. I never wanted to be a doctor or a lawyer or a firefighter. I always wanted to be an artist and I always wanted to sing.” 

“I’ve been writing songs since I was about 7. My first one was something about heaven; I remember writing it on a yellow piece of paper and singing it to my family. My mom was like, Sing it! It was so dramatic.”

“Gospel singing was always just kind of natural for me. I was a church kid. I genuinely love R&B and hip-hop, but I really love Gospel. I started recording professionally in 2008. Some people start recording as experts, but I didn’t. Half the things I know have come from trial and error and experience. There wasn’t an instruction manual.”

Finally Living was a CD that wasn’t planned. I was a new father. You get married and you have children—and you finally start to live. You start to see such different perspectives. There were things that my daughters would do that made me feel so grateful. It started to make sense of the analogy of God as a father—something so gracious and merciful and loving. We’re here to help our children to be the best they can be, and to keep them from trouble and danger and say, There’s nothing to worry about. The songs became a manuscript on becoming a father—my ideas, my concerns, my love, and my perspectives.”

“When I sang with Beyoncé at Met Life Stadium, people kept asking if I was scared. Honestly, I felt more alive than ever.”

“I wrote a song called ‘Yes,’ the first song I recorded for Finally Living even though it’s the very last song on the album. It’s about when I proposed to my wife and she said yes: We say yes all the way, we give God our yes all the way, no better place than yes all the way.”

“I definitely feel that angelic feeling coming though me. I know for sure that it’s God; when you write a song, something that no one else has ever heard, I feel like it’s God singing to me. Where do you get the melody and the lyrics? It has to be something that’s out of this world. When I sing the music, I can feel the energy and I’m there for that moment to encourage, inspire, and enlighten people—whether it’s through the message of Jesus, or maybe my gift can cause you to view things differently.”

“It’s been an amazing ride. In 2017, I want to focus on songwriting and producing—I’ve been producing five or six other artists, allowing my voice to be heard through someone else. I’m starting a new ministry called The Wave Minnesota. I preach as well, making a safe space for youth and young adults that is formatted for them, not over their heads and not in a language they don’t understand.”

When I sang with Beyoncé at Met Life Stadium, people kept asking if I was scared. Honestly, I felt more alive than ever: This is where I’m supposed to be. I’m rehearsed and I’m ready. She puts a mic in my face and says, Sing it, baby.”

Jovonta Patton singing at the Basilica of St. Mary

photo by jamey guy

Quinton Skinner is a writer and editor based in the Twin Cities. A former senior editor of Minnesota Monthly, he held the same post at Twin Cities METRO and 
has written for major national and local publications. He is the co-founder of Logosphere Storysmiths and author of several novels, including his latest, Odd One Out.