Faith and family: Local gospel singer set to release album

Published 1:23 am Saturday, November 5, 2016

By Morgan Mizell

The Natchez Democrat

NATCHEZ — For three years, Jessica Hinton Hawkins has told herself to “keep moving.”

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The mantra has been a testament of her faith in God and is the title of her first full-length gospel album set to release in mid-December.

The 28 year-old Jackson native has been a singer most of her life. Hawkins said she has always been encouraged by others, especially her family and close friends, to pursue music, even when she had a fear of singing in front of others.

“I grew up singing in my hometown church children’s choir known as ‘The Sunshine Band’  of Davis Temple Church of God in Christ,” Hawkins said. “My parents and my siblings have been my main inspirations because they truly helped me to discover this gift of singing and pushed me to go forward in life using this gift. My hometown church group, specifically my pastor and the first lady, believed in me even through my initial years and my fear of singing in public.”

Hawkins said she has always considered Natchez a second home even before she moved to the city. Many of her childhood summers were spent with her grandfather Peter Jackson on the baseball fields when he was president of the T.M. Jennings Little League.

“I would follow him around every summer on the baseball fields where he worked,” Hawkins said. “Also, while I was in college, I came with friends to visit what is now my church home, Word of Faith Ambassadors Worship Center where I now serve as a Praise and Worship Leader and Media Ministry Leader.”

Hawkins is a graphic and website designer and owns iAM Graphic Designs. Owning her own business has allowed her to provide for her family and serve in her church.

“My work in praise and worship, media and design is completely connected to my career in the music industry,” Hawkins said. “Praise and worship is what I do. Media is what runs it, and design is what promotes it.”

Hawkins shares a close relationship with family even now as she has the opportunity to work closely with her husband, Kejuan, who assists her in her music career as her producer. His production company, G126 Productions, is based in Natchez and Ferriday.

It is no surprise that the husband and wife duo would work in music as the two met in college at Alcorn State University where they were both involved in the ASU Gospel Choir.

“I am so blessed to be in the amazing music industry with not only someone I  love dearly, but someone I trust, honor and admire,” Hawkins said. “He is also involved in our church as he serves as the Minister of Music.”

Hawkins received vocal training as a student at Jim Hill High School in Jackson under  Dr. James Hawkins. At ASU, she trained under the late Linda Gardner. She is currently surrounded by vocal talents in her church family and her band, nRhythm.

Hawkins says all of her music is inspired by God.

“I write all of my songs,” Hawkins said. “ Many of the songs on this album were revealed and written while we were in prayer.”

Hawkins hopes to encourage listeners with her album. She feels it is important for people to move in and through every situation that arises in life.

“No matter the trials and tribulations that come against you and no matter the successes and failures that you may experience nor the stress and pain you face, I pray this album reminds you that you were created to be a winner and more than that, a conqueror through Christ,” Hawkins said. “You were created to keep moving forward in all that the Lord has for you in life.”

The message to keep moving is not only one Hawkins hopes others take to heart, it is one with which she has personal experience. Work on the current album began after the release of her debut single, “No Weapon,” but production did not begin until this year for various personal reasons.

“I paused planning for this album to pursue other endeavors such as my graphic and website design career,” Hawkins said. “I am grateful to God for revealing these other gifts. There were so many times that I became discouraged about even trying to pick back up and complete this full album, but with God’s strength and the support of my family, friends and the leaders we kept pushing into the dreams and goals that have always been in our hearts — especially for me, this dream of completing and releasing my full album debut.”

Hawkins continues to sharpen her skills by being surrounded by other gifted singers including family and friends. She also works closely with the other musicians in her band including, her husband, who serves as producer and music director, drummer, Roderic Lewis II, bass guitarist, Alicia Cruthirds, lead guitarist, Jay Hughes, and singers Elvin Frye Jr. and Tema Larry. In addition, my good friend Brittney Mitchell, of the well known gospel group, Brandon Mitchell & SWAP, has helped us with her amazing gift of singing.

“I have always dreamed of having a music career,” Hawkins said. “I believe that being surrounded by so many family members, friends, listeners, and supporters I can truly have great success and impact in the music industry.”

Overall, Hawkins says her faith is not just a big part of her music, it is the core of it.

“The word of God says, ‘Without faith, it is impossible to please God’,” Hawkins said. “Faith is how I came to be able to release this album. Having faith in God allows me to live and move with courage and hope each day. Without faith, the words I sing, the music that we create, and the sound that we release would have no power nor would it have any significant impact on the lives of others. It takes faith to be strong and of goof courage. It takes faith to overcome and succeed. It takes faith to keep moving.

Hawkins’ album will be released and available for purchase on Dec. 17 on digital media outlets and her website,