Today, Israel Houghton is a world-renowned gospel artist with six Grammy Awards, multiple chart-topping albums and a new album on the way. However, he wasn't always a household name. Decades ago, he was a 5-year-old kid captivated by the voice of Andraé Edward Crouch at his first live concert. From that point on, Houghton has been drawn to Gospel music.
"My biggest inspiration hands down is Andraé Crouch. I attended my first Andraé Crouch concert when I was five years old. My Dad, who was a pastor in the are, was one of the promoters so he helped make it happen. I ended up sitting maybe 10 feet from him. At five years old, I remember having sort of that epiphany moment. I knew that's what I wanted to do. You know? It was either that or become a professional baseball player and that didn't work out," he explained.
Houghton's first records didn't arrive until he was a young adult, but the seeds were planted early and they were plentiful. Raised by a pastor, Crouch was always in the church and his mother was a pianist, so music was not hard to find. Along the way, he drew inspiration from Stevie Wonder's Songs In The Key of Life and Crouch's Live At Carnegie Hall. As a result, music has always been a part of him and his life.
"I was telling somebody the other day. It's amazing that you could sit through 1,000 sermons growing up in church and maybe remember a few fragments of those sermons. But the songs you sang growing up in church, you remember those vividly," Houghton said.
Houghton is now using that love for music to bring Gospel to those around the world. Giving back in the way he knows best, Houghton has launched Cafe New Breed, a pop-up concert series that brings gospel music, great food and the brightest smiles to cities across the country.
"I think the importance of bringing gospel music to communities all over the nation is.....I don't know if I've turned on my TV in the last five years nad not seen just bad news on top of bad news," Houghton said.
"I enjoy being a gospel artist because gospel in its truest definition is good news. So, I get to be in the good news business."
This month, Houghton will join a few other artists like Dawkins & Dawkins, DeWayne Woods, Erica Campbell, Lena Byrd Miles, and Mali Music who are also in the good news business. Together, this talented group will lead the West Coast installment of the McDonald's Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour on September 26. Fans watch each stop on the virtual tour via BET's YouTube Channel and McDonald's app. Also, fans can support each artist on the tour by giving back to Ronald McDonald House Charities through their official website.