J.J. Hairston and Youthful Praise
Youthful Praise and worship leader, James “JJ” Hairston have traveled the world, ministered the gospel, and have garnered national and international recognition. Through their career, YP has set a new standard regarding the “church choir” and with no signs of slowing down they continue RESTING ON HIS PROMISE. With 17 years in the ministry, YP has undoubtedly learned to trust what God has done and will continue to do for them.
Founded in 1992, the 35-member choir was birthed out of their home church, Cathedral of Praise in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where the group remains as one of the church’s choirs. As their ministry grew they began singing background for artists such as Destiny’s Child, Pastor Shirley Caesar, and SWV, to name a few.
Currently Hairston writes, produces, and leads YP, although in his youth he did not imagine himself in such a position. Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Hairston spent most of his time at Mt. Sinai Cathedral COGIC where his grandfather Bishop C.L. Sexton was the pastor and his mother served as choir director. JJ would watch daily as the ministry was laid before him, but never thought he would follow in his mother’s footsteps. Soon after his family moved to Bridgeport, Connecticut, JJ was struck with tragedy as a good friend was shot and killed. At that point, Hairston made a decision to make a change in his life and began directing the Central High School Gospel Choir, subsequently joining YP.
After years singing in the choir, Hairston became co-director of YP alongside Shawn Brown. When Brown left YP to become a pastor, Hairston stepped into the position as director. Already co-writing, arranging, and producing many of the songs, Hairston took his responsibilities and continued developing the signature sound that people have to grown to love from YP.
In 2001, YP released their debut album, Awesome God, with Evidence Gospel (a division of Gospelflava.com). The mid-tempo title track became an instant hit among church and college choirs across America, and propelled the album to #13 on the Billboard Gospel Albums chart. Additionally, it earned two Stellar Award nods in 2003 for Choir of the Year and Contemporary Choir of the Year, a Soul Train Award nomination for Gospel Artist of the Year, the Gospel Music Workshop of America Excellence Award nomination for Choir of Year and the Gospel Truth Magazine Award for Contemporary Choir of the Year.