July 18, 2009
Sinclair a gospel singing winner
Photo provided by Christine Sinclair
Christine Sinclair performs “Amazing Grace” at the McDonald’s Gospelfest 2009 held at the Prudential Center Sports and Entertainment arena in Newark, N.J., last month.
Christine Johnson Sinclair said entertaining people with song is one thing, but she’s after long lasting change — touching people’s lives with her gospel singing.
The Stamford, Conn., woman, a Cortland High and SUNY Cortland graduate, is back in town for the college’s alumni reunion weekend today with news to share.
She won the Christian Contemporary Soloist division at the 2009 McDonald’s Gospelfest, held June 13 at the Prudential Center Sports and Entertainment arena in Newark, N.J.
“This is actually a history making award. This is the first time this category was offered, the Contemporary Christian Award,” said the full time gospel singer. Sinclair belted out “Amazing Grace,” to win the award, she said.
It’s the category of the sound, not the selection of music that fit her into Contemporary Christian category at the event. “I gospelized it into a modern version,” she said of the song.
The gospel festival is a talent competition that brings together all kinds of people, competing in a variety of categories, produced and directed by A. Curtis Farrow, CEO of Irving Street Rep in Northern New Jersey. Over 80,000 people auditioned to compete in the event, in all of its categories.
“Christine is a major talent and has a fantastic future ahead,” said Farrow. “Her big voice can only be matched by God’s glorious anointing upon her life. She is amazing! She brought the 16,000 people to their feet with thunderous applause. It was truly the highlight of the night!.All I can say is, look out for her ... she is truly one of God’s star angels!”
Sinclair was among three finalists in her category before she won the division. She competed at the event in 2005, but did not win at the event, staged in Madison Square Garden.
Sinclair has been a full time professional gospel singer for about 14 years. Married to Robin Sinclair, they have a daughter, Jaslyn, 14 and a son, Noah, 11. She is the daughter of the late Ellis Johnson, who was a professor of history at SUNY Cortland. He was also a professional jazz and classical guitarist. Her mom, Joan Johnson, lives in Cortland.
Sinclair does a lot of singing for television, radio and major events, as well as for church services and is booked with singing jobs through the year. She has four albums: “Hymns & Inspirational Songs of Reflection” (2008), “Praise From the Soul” (2007), “Holy Ground” (2001) and “Yes, God is Real” (1996).
She spends the week at home, taking care of her children and working on her music and does her singing stints on the weekends across the country. For international gigs, she’ll spend one to two weeks away.
“I love it. I love what I do and not a lot of people say that,” she said. “A lot of people tolerate their job, but I love my job. This is all I have ever done my whole life is sing. To do what comes naturally is a real blessing.”
Sinclair grew up listening to Billy Holiday and Aretha Franklin.
“That black powerhouse sound is what I was accustomed to. For me as an adult in the church, when I was singing Christian songs, I felt I found my calling the way I touched people’s lives.”
One of her jobs is singing at Evangelical meetings, singing before and after a preacher’s sermon. The song before is the song of meditation. The song afterward is the song of appreciation.
“At one of these meetings, a crack addict came up to me and handed me his pipe. ‘Because of this song, I want to give up this habit.’” he told her.
That is what she’s after. She said she has many stories of how her music has affected people.
Sinclair attended the Campus School in Cortland.
“Virginia Springer was my music teacher. It was the most awesome program I was in. She focused on the individual talent of each student.”
Her musical education continued in the junior high, under Denise Banner Haley. Manny Medeiros was her high school teacher. “I did the show choir with him, the regular concert choir. We did the musical ‘Oklahoma!’” she said.
“Because I have always been a big girl. I would never fit into the role of the tiny lead. They gave me the part of Aunt Eller ... They rewrote the musical to give me as much singing as possible.”
Cortland gave her an excellent foundation for singing, from her pre-school through high school and into college. She received a bachelor’s degree in music at SUNY Cortland and has high praise for the teachers at Dowd Fine Arts Center.
When practicing for a specific show, she’ll work two hours a day on the music.
“Singing is like a sport. You have to train every day to be in peak performance.”
She does jazzercise and walking to keep her body and lungs in top shape.
“It doesn’t happen until you work at it. You have to be dedicated to what you are doing and keep moving forward ... I really believe your dreams come true when you work at making that happen."
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