Interviewed and written by Tocarra Eldridge
Gospel Leading Man’ Dr. Earnest Pugh is a dynamic music force to be reckoned with in the gospel recording industry as he utilize his ability and gift to standout. As a powerhouse vocalist, songwriter, music producer, industry executive, successful record label owner of EPM Music Group and philanthropist, it was evident that he would eventually rise to super stardom while having faith in his ministry.
During his early career and life, Pugh would become a successful sought-after worship leader by following his journey for the love of worshipping and singing gospel music. As a legendary singer, he continues to capture his international audience worldwide with his vision and creativity. Pugh has shared the stage with many chart-topping artists, such as, Shirley Caesar, Richard Smallwood, Beverly Crawford and Lalah Hathaway, just to name several.
Regarding his musical work, the Multi-Stellar Award Winner has recorded more than 7 albums, this includes live and studio recordings. Some of his album releases comprise of Earnestly Pugh Love: A Worshipper’s Perspective, Live: Rain On Us, Earnestly Yours, Just Worship and Survive. He has released a multitude of hit singles along with over 30 Billboard singles. Some of the singles include, “Rain On Us”, “The Great I Am”, “I Need Your Glory”, “I Need You To Breath” and “I Believe You Most”, just to name a few.
Earnest Pugh is also a philanthropist where he continues to give back to the community. He launched the non-profit organization called Veterans Emergency Relief (VER). This organization address issues that female veterans face daily, including being deprived of food, shelter, clothing and much more.
I had the opportunity to interview ‘Gospel Leading Man’ Earnest Pugh regarding his life, career, and latest happening as he continues to spread his ministry and his devotion to help others around the world. Here is what he has to share with the readers.
Tocarra Eldridge: Would you like to tell us a little about your new album?
Earnest Pugh: Well, the last one that I put out was Unsung Hits last year through eOne Entertainment System. We had so many popular songs that we did in the live settings. What we decided to do was take a lot of the songs that go over very good in the live settings but they’re not popular songs, they’re not singles that ever made it to the radio – so we called them Unsung Hits. So we put ten songs together that never made radio, and I mean it sold like crazy! It definitely debuted top five on billboards the week we came out. So, I’m just super excited about that. That was our 10th album that we put out. Now we’re gearing up for the album called A Compilation CD, but we’re celebrating eight years of being signed to the eOne Entertainment System. It features some of the biggest and brightest stars in gospel. It’s going to be a great great compilation to memorialize this amazing time in our life and career.
Tocarra: You just mentioned your new project A Compilation CD. What makes this project so unique and special to you?
Earnest: When we signed to eOne Entertainment, I was at the time signed to Kerry Douglas of Blacksmoke Music, so I was an artist within my own right. And then, now to sign a distribution deal through eOne now means that I would facilitate masters and be at the hem of careers of so many other up-and-coming artists. Most people like myself would kind of shy away from that kind of obligation, because it could very easily become a conflict of interest when you’re putting more time, energy and resources into other people’s career as you would your own. So, I went on and I did it. I think it’s special to me because I was able to take artists and put them in Walmart stores that they had never been in before. They had never sang at the Stellar Awards pre-show. They had never been on Billboard before. It caused me to have to sacrifice my own stuff, but it was fine. The bottom line is we have to make sure gospel music stays around for centuries to come, and that’s only going to come as we begin to bring up the up-and-coming artists to give them a platform.
Tocarra: For the new listeners and your fans, what do you expect them to take away after hearing this exciting and new album?
Earnest: I think it will cause them to focus more on the branding. When you really really whole-heartedly believe in something you’ve got to invest in it, rather it’s time, your energy, your production, your graphics and so on, because it’s very competitive to get music in the stores. You compete for shelf space in Walmart, Target and Best Buy. Also, when the air waves are very saturated with a whole lot of music, you have to have that wow factor to make them say ‘hey, let me go over here and play this record as oppose to the other’. In other words, what I tell artists who are really trying to get their jump off is ‘what sets you apart from everybody else’. ‘How are you uniquely different if I’m going to spend $9.99 to download your CD’. ‘Why would I pick yours over any of the others that are out there?’
Tocarra: With your amazing singing gift, of course your mission is in ministry. Within your calling, what do you feel is your ultimate mission or purpose?
Earnest: I really feel that it is to empower and to encourage the people of God across the board. I don’t care what walk of life you come from, what color, what creed, or what religion you are. I believe that in bad times people need to hear good news, which is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. I sing, I preach and I teach. Everything that I do – I do it to bring good news and awareness of God’s goodness.
Tocarra: With all of the challenges in the music industry along with balancing your family and friends, what keeps you humble and connected to your ministry?
Earnest: Just to be chosen. God can use anybody; He can choose to use anybody. Certainly, there are people out there who have done this much longer than I have, but God just chose to allow me to have a platform to share. I think when God can trust you with it, He can really put it in your hands because He knows you’re going to go out there on His behalf and convey a message the way He said to convey it. I think that’s what opens up more doors…the more He can trust you.
Tocarra: With all of the challenges and obstacles that people endure in their life, do you have any phrases or biblical passages that you live by to get through the day that may encourage people along their journey?
Earnest: What I tell people is ‘listen, the gift that is inside you that heals all of these other people, it can heal you as well’. So, my theme in life in the midst of everything is to sing, because that’s what God put in me to do. However, that same gift, when I’m discouraged or oppressed I get in a quiet place in my house and begin to sing out of my soul, singing a song of the Lord. Sometimes it may be a prayer, but I make it into a song because I’m just determined that I’m not going to get shut down. I’m going to be loud because I feel that God has empowered me with everything I need to survive.
Tocarra: Do you have any advice for aspiring singers who look to be successful such as yourself?
Earnest: I would say be uniquely yourself. Everybody has been wonderfully made to make a contribution and deposit in the earth. We already have a Yolanda Adams, we already have a Kim Burrell and we already have a Kirk Franklin. Be who God has called and appointed and anointed you to be, because it’s at that time through your uniqueness that you make your mark on the world.
Tocarra: Do you have any organizations or charities that you are connected to dearly that you partake in, whether inside or outside of your community?
Earnest: Absolutely! I have Veterans Emergency Relief which is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that I established a couple years ago in Houston, Texas. It addresses privation issues for female combat veterans including food, clothing and shelter. A lot of times they have a hard time making the transition between coming off active duty in the military to coming into the civilian life. They have to learn how to submit a resume, go out to the sector – you’re not going to the field – you now have to communicate with people who are not combat savvy. We do all of that. We assist with the proper clothing they need and we bring in professionals to provide interview techniques. The biggest thing that we’ve been able to do the last few years has been a food drive during the month of November, leading up to Thanksgiving. We do a toy drive at the end of November, leading up to the month of December. So, those are the two things that are very near and dear to my heart. So, you can go to www.VeteransEmergencyRelief.us and you will see pictures and videos of us. We knocked on about 50 doors last year and were able to provide meals. We went online and said ‘if it’s anybody who is having a little challenge and are unable to feed your family this year, we want to be a blessing to you through the Veterans Emergency Relief.’ That’s what we’ve really been passionate about. That’s where my heart is. I really wish people will just go to the website and check out what we’re doing. If the Lord moves you to do so, please be apart and help with your prayers or your support.
Tocarra: Before we end the interview, would you like to add anything in closing?
Earnest: I just want to tell people that I don’t care what you’re dealing with, or what struggles you’re going through. It’s a lot going on with the Senate, a lot going on with the Congress, and a lot of things going on in the Whitehouse. Don’t allow fear, doubt or unbelief to grip your heart. Draw unto God. The bible says if we draw unto Him then He will draw unto us. What I like about drawing unto Him and Him showing up, He don’t just come to take sides – God comes to take over when He comes into a situation.
Photography: Jamaal D. Lathan Photography
Makeup Artist: Lakishia Murray
Suit by: The Exclusive Gentleman
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Last modified: April 24, 2023