im Bowman Jr. has grown up in the music business.
His dad-same name, no junior, of course-is a revered and celebrated smooth jazz artist, and his aunt is the incomparable gospel superstar Vickie Winans. His cousin is one of Sean (Diddy) Combs’ favorite producers and R&B singers, Mario Winans.
Another cousin, Marvin “Coconut” Winans Jr. is making headway in gospel music like his legendary Grammy-winning father, who also serves as senior pastor at the Perfecting Church on Detroit’s east side.
But Bowman, the 24-year-old Wayne State University student, wanted to make his own imprint in the gospel music genre – and like the rest of his famous and accomplished family, he came out of the gate swinging.
His debut album, “Beautiful,” debuted at No. 8 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums sales chart in May.
And it’s only going to get better.
What made you want to get into the music business?
I knew I had a challenge…but I had the gift; I knew I was supposed to be singing. You grow up, and you see your friends and the youth and everybody’s getting disconnected from Christian and gospel music, and they’re not finding a connect because it’s the same people doing the same thing. I wanted to come in and add a fresh spin to it.
So where does your music fall?
It’s a mixture of everything. There’s some techno on my record; I’ve got some reggae, I’ve got some acoustic, vibe-y songs. I also have some alternative praise on it. My album has something for everybody, and that’s what I feel like my niche is, because we live in a day and age where people are buying singles more than records, so I wanted to do a record where, if you’re into rock, you know, CCM praise and worship, but not into anything else, I have something for you.
Was there any hesitation about entering the business because of your family ties?
I did and I didn’t. The only reservation I had was that I wanted to do it my way; I didn’t want anybody telling me I should be like my father. I didn’t want anybody telling me I should be like my aunt or like even my cousins. I wanted to do it on my terms, and once I got into it, everybody just let me do me.
Why gospel? Did you ever consider making secular music?
I love the Lord with all my heart. I’m not just saying that as a cliché. I really do have a relationship with God and I couldn’t see myself singing any other kind of music. I appreciate the gift of secular artists like Chris Brown and Beyonce’ and Michael Jackson and Coldplay, but I wanted to spread the message of Jesus Christ.
What’s the best advice that your Dad gave you?
The best advice that my dad gave me was to just to not sweat the small stuff.
What about your Aunt Vickie?
My auntie is about work. They call her the hardest working woman in gospel music. She told me if I dedicate myself and take this serious and really work that, my gift will make room for me.
Detroit seems to be the ultimate testing ground for all things gospel. What’s it like taking the stage in your hometown?
If you come in here half-singing, you might as well not even come, because Detroit is a very, very tough market. But when I tell you they have supported me, I have no complaints! Detroit has showed up for me in a huge way, so I feel love from Detroit.
Kelley L. Carter is an Emmy-Award winning freelance entertainment journalist.