KingdomSoldNYC: Tell us about who you are? Where are you from?
TJ: Well My name is TJ CULLUM born and raised out of Southside Jamaica Queens NY. A man that loves God, I sing, I preach, I write songs and produce records all for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I am one of those individuals that believes that the Gospel lifestyle is for everyone but Gospel music is not for everyone to be doing but I am chosen to do Christian Music, so I am following exactly what the Lord is telling me to do. Um...I've been a christian since 1992. I got ministered to through a rap tour I was on- we used to open up for the "Lost Boys" and I was on tour with Latifa; Queen Latifa and she was great. I was about 17 years old at the time. A friend mine named Estee Bullock ministered the Gospel to me and I came to church with Him and got delivered in a service, from then on Tj Dapraying Man was being groomed. I took my experiences from before, when my friends and I would hang out on the street, sit in the park, smoke, sell on the corners, being street pharmaceutical technicians. I didn't have any guidance, my dad died when I was 14 years old and He used to abuse drugs and needles. He got in contact with the virus, HIV and now he is deceased. It took my family in a rut, It left me, my two sisters and my mom. Mom got remarried again and I had to figure out what kind of man I was going to be.
The Lord spoke to me prophetically even before I was saved. I think right about 16 the year before I got saved- He told me "I'll be your father" and showed me the scripture " Our father who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name, Thy Kingdom come , Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven" from there on the Lord started guiding me into what kind of man He wanted me to be and here I am as an independent artist now in 2015. Two full projects and a mixtape. My first project was called "Thoughts of a Praying man" that came out in 2005 produced by my good friend, Jimi Kendrix and Dinky Bingham. That album pretty much spoke about my thoughts and desires trying to be a man of God and the struggles I had with my peers being in the street or just wanting to fit in. I had a record called "Heaven is My Goal" which is an incredible record, "The World Was Spoken" a song called "Crazy- They Think I'm Crazy" Then in 2010, five years later- I dropped a project called "Ministry In Melody".Ministry in Melody entails this - I knew I was a christian and I love God and I was doing christian music and I was a worship leader but I had a ruff edge to me as a christian artist. People would say "oh your R&P, Rhythm & Praise or Gospel R&B" and I was like how do you be gospel and R&B at the same time, or "Gospel Hip Hop" and I would say to myself like that's cool but lets redefine this.
I learned that we're not a particular style because the Gospel is the good news of God and the style of music is like a garment. Like you put on a jacket. So I am no longer a Christian Urban Artist or Gospel Rapper or Christian R&B Artist but rather a Minister of Melody. Look at it in the same sense of Master of Ceremony- that means the ceremony can go in all types of directions but when you are the Master, a master can conduct in any kind of form or arena. So a Minister can minister in any kind of melody. So TJ Da Praying Man is not a Christian R&B artist or Urban Artist, No- He's a"Minister of Melody" and I definitely want that to resonate in this time and definitely in this generation. We're in a time now where we like to repeat what we see and we feel that is the season other than hearing from God and doing exactly what He wants you to do. When David was chosen to be king. He was never looking to become the king, he just wanted to serve the king. He was just working tending to the field. That means as long as I am focusing on God, He'll open doors. The Bible says "No man comes unless I draw" as an artist I took a break for 4 years. I took a break from 2010 to about now because I had to learn that I have to let God draw people in and not living life like I am auditioning for everyone because that comes off 1. as pushy and 2. it's not coming off .....sincere. Sincerity is very important to me, that is what attracted me to Christian-ism. So I love sincerity - not quantity but quality and I try model myself as an artist like that, I try my best.
So in the four years when I was not really putting out records, I started producing records. I was able to write a song with my brother Kenyon Penceal. Produced by Cory Henry and my brother Jason Hendrickson called "Come Home"and it's on the movie called "The Church" that was on BET. Praise God- the Lord allowed me to work on that. Daryl Coleysung the record and Blanche McAllister from The Tri-City Singers/ Donald Lawrence sung on the record, my backgrounds are on the record. I was just being humble letting a friend of mine, Pastor Jason Hendrickson sing the record on his album and the Lord saw something different. I am honored by that. I started writing and producing and lyrics started coming;you find out you have a spoken word side like you have an alter ego. I started rapping on songs and stuff like that and that is all apart of the revelation of being a Minister of Melody.
KingdomSoldNYC: So is it safe to say, you are working on your next project are you just following right now?
TJ: I am currently living my project and then when the Lord says it's time to release, I'll release- because you have to live the life to tell the story. So I'm living life. I am in the middle of one now, a release date- Sometime next year, late 2016. You hear that Holy Ground! Holy Ground is my management, Big shout out to David Quinones that's my brother. My Label; All Souls Music; Will Terrell, what's going on, what's going on baby boy. So I'm an independent artist that's totally dependent on God, basically.
I put out a new single called "This Praise" produced by Fran Am it's a CCM record, very powerful, it's a declaration record saying that nothing is going to stop you from getting where God needs you to be and stop your praise cause I might have lost a lot of things in life, but I didn't lose one thing, I didn't lose my praise! The enemy might have tried everything, you might have even got into a car accident but if you can open up your eyes, lift you hands there is something out there that you can give God a praise to. The wonderful thing about it is this, when Paul and Silas were in prison, their praise shook the prison walls. If you are at the point where you can start praising God, you'll be right out of your bondage immediately, so this praise nothing is going to stop me now. We going forward with the single, it's doing great just looking for more radio coverage but the music industry is different that what it was 5 years ago. They have the tendency to be cliquish and I don't mind that but I will say this I do miss when your music being powerful and good was good enough. So now it's not so much of the good enough and it's not so much as your money, it's if you're in a certain clique and that's irritating. If I have to put a down payment for a home just to be on the radio- I would be buying a great radio space the best that money can buy and it doesn't gain equity like a home. But SEASONS, when God is ready for things to overflow there is nothing anyone can do and I believe that in my heart of hearts so meanwhile I'm going to be faithful and continue where the Lord leads me.
KingdomSoldNYC: In your years of ministry so far, what has been one of the most powerful moments or experience for you- a moment where you knew it was nothing but God?
TJ: Um...I was at work and a young man tried to commit suicide and he cut his arm with a razor. I was able to minister a freestyle to him and the tears fell down his eyes. He asked me to pray for him and he lived another day. He's still alive now, praise God and he was encouraged. I asked him if he wanted to be led to the Lord, he felt that he wasn't ready but I definitely know that I ministered peace into his life at the time he needed it. I've been to many churches, the minister does the alter call and you repeat the sinner's prayer or the traditional way of ministry and leading people into the fold, and that's awesome- but to someone who that is the total opposite from what they've ever thought of, they haven't give God much thought at all and you're the actual person to bring them to that place of awareness- that's ministry. That's the part that most of our online people and people that don't know us don't see. The ministry. Now I understand my journey and why certain things are easy and certain things are difficult because what's pure isn't going to be easy. I understand and it can get tiring. I was called to do this, I didn't get up and do it. I didn't call myself. If I called myself I would've stopped a long time ago. So I don't approach it as something I need to be doing to receive something back all the time. Sometimes you never know where your blessings are coming from. I'm blessed my children are healthy, my beautiful wife is healthy that's what it's all about. So...I would love to do the freestyle.
Check out the Freestyle : Minister of Melody Freestyle
KingdomSoldNYC: Anything you would like to say, from promo, to shout outs or an encouraging word
TJ: Shout out to all my true ministers out there that are on the grind and not for monetary gain, not for status but doing it because they love Jesus. For all those that are skeptical of not even about church but of ministry and wondering if Christ coming back. Jesus Christ is coming back! Don't let detour people stop you from loving God and really getting to know your maker. The best analogy I can give you... if somebody had 3 million dollars and it was 5 ft down in glass is 19 inch glass is in between the money- what's going to stop you from getting to it? Nothing in the world. So nothing should stop you from getting to your goals and getting to your God. You're in there for one reason. You get in there to get your relationship with God together. The church is a hospital, sick people are there from the leaders on down but there's only one Doctor and His name is Jesus and I just encourage you- when was the last time you had a Dr's visit. (laughs) that's about that. I'd rather have God and not need him than need him and not have him, I encourage you the same, live for Christ with everything. Live holy before his presence, it's not easy but you got help.You got help! and you've got powerful prayerful people around you- keep them around you to keep you strong because they know, it's not easy!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.