Or, to be more precise, a member of the TNCS community is going! Music Director and Primary Lead Teacher Martellies Warren (“Mr. Warren” as he is known among The New Century School community) is a tenor with gospel group Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy in his off-teaching hours. (Please read Music is in the Air at TNCS for more on Mr. Warren’s fascinating background.)
This group heads to Los Angeles, California on February 15th to attend the 58th Grammy Award Ceremony, having been nominated for Best Gospel Performance (click on Nominees and scroll to #36). Their live performance of “Worth” from their second album Everyday Jesus was recorded in December 2015. “Worth” has so far spent 41 weeks on the Gospel Billboard Charts, 20 of those weeks at the #1 position. In fact, the album itself debuted at #1. “It’s doing really well,” said Mr. Warren with a proud smile. “And to be nominated out of hundreds of people is just an amazing feeling. We’re super excited!”
As if a Grammy nomination weren’t enough, Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy has also been nominated for a 2015–2016 Stellar Award (the 31st annual). Make that 10 Stellars—yes, 10! “They nominated us for every single thing we were eligible for!” said Mr. Warren. (By the way, Stellar awards are not new to this group, who nabbed three for their first album.) In the past few weeks, the group has rehearsed almost daily for 3–4 hours in preparation for that show happening just days after the Grammys, which they will open and which will take place in Las Vegas. Opening a show, explained Mr. Warren, isn’t just your typical performance. There will be complex choreography, pyrotechnics, and even some special, as-yet undisclosed attire, which secret he would not divulge, except to say that it would be fun and colorful in the beginning, changing to classic toward the end.
Although many would be starstruck by the amount of celebrity Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy have suddenly attained, Mr. Warren remains the consummate professional musician. Not content to rest on their laurels, he says he and the rest of the group want to continue honing their crafts and making worthwhile contributions:
This is the biggest thing we’ve ever undertaken. As artists, we want our music to be well-received by our peers. We have put something out there, and it’s scary, because we want to top the last [and their first, self-titled] album. “Testimony” [from that album] made history as the longest-running gospel single ever. It’s still on the charts, actually. That’s huge, and we want our sophomore album to be even better.
Before releasing these two masterpieces, Group Therapy functioned as background vocalists for just about every other gospel outfit they could before Anthony Brown decided it was time to write and record their own songs. Mr. Warren met Mr. Brown during their college days at Morgan State University, the former on a full vocal scholarship, the latter, piano. Mr. Warren accepted an invitation to audition as a singer for a group Mr. Brown was putting together. As the story goes, the line-up came to Mr. Brown in a dream, which must have been some kind of divine intervention, given that, 16 years later, they are still harmonizing.
This video taken at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, shows their live appearance on the TV show Celebration of Gospel, which features new and rising artists. Although they have been around in some form or another for years, Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy are considered “break-out” artists in their current incarnation, having emerged in superstar fashion on a scene typically dominated by entrenched artists.
Of course, there are probably two questions on everyone’s mind at this point. First, will the TNCS community get to hear Mr. Warren sing? Maybe so. He has pitched the idea to Mr. Brown of making an appearance at TNCS, although not for a full-scale performance, but more so to explore some of the aspects of the genre of gospel music just as TNCS students would any other genre. Second, how has he requested his green room to be stocked, now that he has made the big time? The amazingly talented but ever humble and always professional Mr. Warren says, “I get excited when I see a spread with tea, honey, and lemon. That’s so important to relax the muscles of a singer’s throat. That’s what you want to see.”
If you can’t send tea but want to show your support, send the group all of your good-luck vibes to snare the win(s) at their two upcoming awards shows :)!