Singer-songwriter, producer, and gospel icon Israel Houghton is announcing a new live-streamed concert on Easter Sunday from the Coachella Desert. The event, which will take place outdoors with plenty of safe distance, will mark Houghton’s first performance in front of an audience of this size in over a year. That’s not to say he hasn’t been busy reinventing the live realm, though – Houghton spent much of 2020 finding new ways to connect with his audience via regular music and worship livestreams, and is set to release a new live album Feels Like Home Vol. 2 on April 2nd. Its first installment, Feels Like Home Vol. 1, debuted in February at #1 on the Billboard Gospel Charts. Both were recorded live from Houghton’s family home in New York in November with his longtime group NewBreed as well as family and friends including his wife and frequent collaborator Adrienne Bailon-Houghton.
“Last year we celebrated Israel and NewBreed being together 20 years,” he recalls. “We celebrated by doing Feels Like Home, but it wasn’t with a crowd. Just us. Easter at Coachella will mark our first time in front of a crowd of this magnitude in 14 months. We’re so excited to experience an in person outdoor worship event together. We have so much to be thankful for!”
For more info, please visit FeelsLikeHomeConcert.com.
In addition to the Sunday livestream concert, the release of the new album will be celebrated in a takeover of Kirk Franklin’s “Praise” this Friday, April 2nd, with SiriusXM broadcasting an hour of live performances from the record at 12pm EST and then again at 6pm EST.
The new single “Accepted” is available now on all platforms, is a warm and powerful performance that continues with both the overt and the structural focus on inclusion and comfort, moving slowly and brilliantly as Houghton’s performance crescendos into a confident affirmation. Friends and family alike watch with clear eyes as Houghton lays the groundwork, then eventually everyone joins in on the chorus: “I have a seat at the table, I know who I am.”
The Houghtons have been invited to discuss the new work in several major media appearances including segments on Entertainment Tonight and Fox Good Day NY as well as Los Angeles’s KTLA and New York’s WPIX, Get Up! Mornings with Erica Campbell and Kirk Franklin’s Praise on SiriusXM. That sustained attention and growth for this album, his eleventh, is a perfect testament to the energy community that’s sprung up organically around Houghton and his work in the last twenty years. Preceded by just one single, “Hymn of Breakthrough,” the fact that audiences have continued to propel the project to the top spot as a full album is telling in itself.
“Hymn of Breakthrough” from Vol. 1, is a sprawling performance led by the incisive and focused direction of Houghton as a singer and bandleader, but buoyed by the inimitable group dynamic of gospel as the track ratchets up its energy and intensity in several large steps. The inspiration and bubbling excitement grow out of the form of the project itself, which started off with the simple question last year of how to adapt worship and the electrifying live experience of gospel music to a stay-at-home format. Beginning with his #WorshipWednesdays livestream series on social media, the novel idea grew first into a major livestream concert and now into the multi-part record that begins with Feels Like Home: Vol. 1. By quarantining and testing all performers for COVID-19 prior to recording, NewBreed found a way to share the communal experience at the heart of gospel in an intimate and surprisingly fresh way, and the fact that it resulted in multiple albums worth of material should come as no surprise to anyone who’s been following the band.
Since the release of his first studio album in 1997, Houghton has looked to the live performance format as a means to that very end, including 2004’s Live From Another Level and 2005’s Alive in South Africa, the latter of which won the GRAMMY® Award for Best Traditional Gospel Album. Houghton would later take home three awards for Best Pop / Contemporary Gospel Album and eventually a Best Gospel Album award for 2015’s Covered: Alive In Asia, his most recent live archive prior to Feels Like Home. In addition to his 6 GRAMMYs® Israel Houghton has also been honored with 16 GMA Dove Awards.