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Why Winning at CWVFF is Awesome!

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Why Winning at CWVFF is Awesome!

Hey All!

I’m excited to announce that my video “Dreamers” won Best Music Video at the Christian Worldview Film Festival! You may have already heard the good news, but you may not know why this is so special. I know that a lot of you who are following me on this music journey are true supporters…which may mean that you might be excited just because I am! Lol! (Thank you for that, by the way.) I want to share as much of the details of this journey as I can because, well, we’re basically traveling this road together. If you’ve ever supported me, then you’re invested to some degree. And I don’t take that lightly. So please check out our “award-winning video” and then I’ll share with you why winning was so cool…

I don’t know if you recall, but last year I actually performed at the film festival. It’s one of the largest Christian film festivals in the country! That performance was actually a big deal because, up until that point, they had never experienced rap at the festival. I was the first, and it was an honor to add a different flavor to the festival. Unfortunately, not everyone was as excited as I was about the inclusion of hip hop. First, I heard that there were a few complaints after my performance. Others came up to me personally and told me that they didn’t like the style of music but appreciated the message. That was kind of funny to me because I toned my performance waaaay down for that occasion. Like…I transitioned from rap into an all out worship set and everything. I started to realize what a bold move it was for the founder of the festival to invite me to perform.

During last year’s festival, I also couldn’t help but make a few observations while there. One observation was that I stuck out like a sore thumb lol! There wasn’t a lot of racial or cultural diversity represented at the festival. I don’t think that this was an intentional move. I just think that it was something that naturally happened over time. We all have a natural bend to gravitate towards what is most familiar and comfortable. The funny thing is that they shared more in common with this rapper than they thought. After talking with some of the people there, I found out that many of the young people grew up with a similar experience to mine – homeschooled and living in the bubble of Christian culture. (I distinctly remember being young and thinking that rap music was bad…until I saw it on TBN.) Needless to say, I walked away from last year’s film festival thinking, “Wow, that was fun! It’ll probably never happen again, but it was fun.”

Well as God would have it, some of the young people reached out to me after last year’s festival and asked if they could shoot a video for me. Among them was Patience Pennington. We ended up collaborating on the “Dreamers” video with another guy named Bear Hanrahan. The video turned out incredibly well! Sometime later, they asked me if they could submit it to the film festival. Me and my optimistic/pessimistic self agreed to it with excitement but didn’t think it would get very far based on the reception of my last performance there. There were too many similarities. “Dreamers” would have been the first rap video submitted to the festival. I attended a breakfast during this year’s film festival and it appeared that the demographic hadn’t changed much since last year. The people were super friendly but for some reason I didn’t think that this crowd was ready for the cultural leap. I was wrong.

The “Dreamers” lyric video ended up winning Best Music Video in the festival making it the first rap video to win an award there! Since the win, I’ve been able to connect to other great movie producers and actors who’s films have hit the “silver screen”. And while winning the award is great, I’m more excited about the prospect of the Christian film industry beginning to recognize God-glorifying art coming from the hip hop culture. I’m no activist for hip hop, but I am an activist for kingdom expression here on the earth which includes worship from every tribe, language and people group.

We all come from different backgrounds and cultures. That’s awesome because it means that the kingdom of God can effectively reach many cultures from a place of authenticity. I’d love to hear from you. What are some things that you are currently doing to add your distinct flavor in today’s culture?  Let me know in the comments.


Jarrell is a rap artist, the founder of Freedom Music Group, and the leader of The Scribe Collective which serves as the hip-hop arm of Eddie James Ministries. Jarrell also serves in leadership at Faith Outreach Center International. He and his wife Jeneil are the proud parents of two beautiful girls, Nyomi and Liviya.

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