MUSIC & WORSHIP ARTS MINISTRY DEPARTMENT CONSISTS OF:
Benita J. Washington,Interim Overseer of Music & Worship Arts, Director of Praise & Worship - (BIO)
Virgil E. Straford, Musical Director (OHB) - (BIO)
David L. Warren, Musical Director (ANT) - (BIO)
S. Royce Mosely, Psalmist/ Organist to Bishop Walker - (BIO)
Edaghogho Eferakeya, Jr., MWA Technical Director - (BIO)
It was just seven years ago, in 2003, when Selma, Alabama native, Benita Washington, was crowned the inaugural Gospel Dream Winner. With an enlarged platform, Washington got busy stirring audiences with her anointing and dazzling the industry with her vocal ability. Her 2004 debut release, “Hold On (Light Records)” hit multiple slots on the Billboard charts in its first week including number six on Top Gospel Albums. “Hold On” went on to chart again several different times over the next year, receive a Soul Train Lady of Soul nomination for Best Gospel Album, and the lead single, “Thank You” reached number three on the gospel radio charts; remaining there three consecutive weeks.
Benita followed up with her 2007 critically acclaimed sophomore album, “Renaissance: Live in Nashville (ReddApple Seed Entertainment)”. As co-writer of the majority of the album, Washington unveiled another layer of artistry, liberty and piety. The live concert provided not only a quality, well-reviewed recording; it was received as a true praise and worship experience, which afforded concertgoers a chance to freely “enter in”. Benita Washington’s third album, “The Word Remains (Shanachie Entertainment)” was released Tuesday, June 29, 2010, to rave reviews.
Currently, Washington continues to energetically pour into God’s people daily. In addition to her growing ministry, Benita strongly believes in supporting and serving the vision of others. Benita has served the Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Nashville, TN as Director of Praise & Worship since 2005. It is there that she has honed the craft God has given and has become recognized as one of the world’s leading Praise and Worship leaders. Benita’s dynamic leading is experienced by many weekly on Mt. Zion’s virtual church website (www.mtzionanywhere.org) in addition to the more than 22,000 members of the church.
With nearly 15 years experience behind her, she has been called on to lead and teach the fundamentals of worship all over the country. Having been beneficiary of the ministries of Bebe Winans, Cece Winans, Prophetess Juanita Bynum, Dr. Judith Chrisite- McAllister, and so many other great Gospel artists, Benita believes God’s plan for her life and looks to the future with a calm assurance that God will do everything He promised.
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Chicagoland native, Virgil Straford discovered a love for music at an early age. The stack of LP’s, coupled with the organ in the living room, served as catalysts that fueled his passion.
Virgil began to share his gifts of playing and sometimes singing in his home church. He played with the church choir and soon became the musician for the newly formed youth choir. He and some friends also started an additional singing group that performed all over the south side of Chicago. This adventure prepared him for numerous professional opportunities that would come his way.
His initial thrust into the music industry came through Ricky Dillard and the New Generation Chorale, an innovative and energetic choir from suburban Chicago. Their first recording was Virgil’s first as well. His travels with Dillard brought about opportunities to play for gospel legends, Walter Hawkins, Keith Pringle, and Myrna Summers. Since then, he has worked with a variety of artists, including Tyrone Dickerson, Ben Tankard, Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Cece Winans, Montell Jordan, Virtue, Judith Christie McAllister and Donnie McClurkin.
Virgil Straford can be heard on projects featuring many of the aforementioned artists as well as many independent recording artists. Currently, Straford serves as the musical director for Benita Washington and has produced and co-written on her Renaissance and The Word Remains projects. Virgil has also served as musical director at Mt. Zion Baptist Church Of Nashville, Tennessee since 2002.
In 2009, Virgil was a participant in “Grand & Glorious - A Piano Extravaganza” with America’s piano showman, Dino Kartsonakis. Broad-based in genres, Virgil has shared his gifts abroad on numerous occasions, and he will soon add author and public speaker to the list of things that God has given him to do.
Inside him is the desire to share with others, according to his own experiences, the purpose of the minstrel in worship. With many achievements already on his plethora of talents, Virgil will move fast-forward to reach the multitude in his purpose.
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David Warren is a native of California but currently resides in Nashville, TN.
He started playing at the age of 8 and has continued in music ministry ever since. He has had the opportunity to work with award winning artists musicians and producers such as: Patti LaBelle, Marvin Sapp, Donald Lawrence, Kim Burrell, and Daniel Weatherspoon among others.
David has served dilligently in the music department at Mt Zion Baptist Church for over two years and has been the musical director of the Antioch location since March of 2009.
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Singer, musician, producer, writer, actor, choreographer, clinician, speaker and, most importantly, worshipper are all appropriate titles for this musical innovator. Minister S. Royce Mosley, aka "Coach," for his role as a vocal trainer, is a Louisiana native. His vocal style and delivery has often been paralleled with the likes of Donnie Hathaway and Luther Vandross. His passion for worship coupled with his anointed vocals and stage presence has, unmistakably, made him one of the greatest praise & worship leaders of our time.
He currently serves on the Music and Worship Arts staff of the Mt. Zion Baptist Church, Nashville, Tennessee as psalmist and personal accompanist to Bishop Joseph W. Walker. Having been endowed by God with a powerful Davidic Anointing, he travels immensely across the country and abroad along with Bishop Walker impacting the lives of God's people. He further serves as Musical Director for Light Records recording artists, "Judah Generation" which is Mt. Zion's youth choir ministry (www.myspace.com/officialjudahgeneration).
Mosley has done studies in music education (Choral/ Vocal) at the University of Louisiana, Monroe. There he has developed a love for choral training and has done much study in the use of visual expressivities as they pertain to vocal ensembles. He has traveled extensively as a choral workshop clinician and is a member of Delta Omicron Professional music fraternity. He has often been sought after for his ability to take standard choral technique and apply it to secular, as well as Christian/gospel renditions, for the purpose of maintaining proper vocal health. "Although the genre is different, the fundamental principles for maintaining a healthy vocal lifestyle are the same," says Mosley.
He has done collaborations with the South Arkansas Symphony Orchestra as well as the Shreveport Symphony Orchestra among others. Mosley is vocal coach and arranger for one of gospel music's hottest female groups, Zie'l. (www.officialziel.com) He has been the winner of many noteworthy vocal competitions to include several first place rankings at the National teachers of Singing Competition (NATS). He was also winner of the Gospel Music Workshop of America's Juanita Burns Scholarship Competition in voice for 4 consecutive years! Royce, a “singer’s, singer,” has shared the stage with, as well as accompanied, many of gospel music’s greatest voices.
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EDAGHOGHO EFERAKEYA, JR.
Edaghogho Eferakeya, Jr. recognized that his passion for sound was a gift from God at an early age and has continued to serve God through the study of His word and improvement of His gift. He has been a part of the Mt. Zion Music & Worship Arts team in the capacity of the Music & Worship Arts Technical Director since 2009. In 2003, he earned a Masters Degree in Recording Program II from the Conservatory of Recording Arts and Science of Phoenix, Arizona and has continued to grow in favor with Christ as he gains more experience and knowledge in sound, lighting, production and technical support systems. His professional career has afforded him opportunities to travel extensively and work with a variety of artist including but not limited to Crystal Gayle, Patti LaBelle,Angie Stone, Fantasia, Missy Elliot,Kid Rock, The Road Hammers, The Barney Show, Veggie Tales, and Dr. Bobby Jones. Edaghogho is driven by the Holy Spirit to find ways to harness the power and intensity of God's spoken word.
A loving son, Christian, friend, and mentor to many, his leisure activities include playing the bass, basketball, watching professional and college sports, and studio work. He also shares this time with Romans Road Ministries and as an independent production consultant. He currently resides in the Nashville area.
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