On January 14, singer and song writer Antonio Long along with many faithful supporters gathered downtown in Baltimore for his listening party. This is just the beginning of an effective music ministry that, in his own words, is being developed through prayer and practice.
Long's music is a mixture of neo-soul, contemporary gospel and urban contemporary gospel. His work is uncomplicated, refreshing but most of all he is genuinely focused on sharing his "Life Project" with those willing to listen and receive.
Before the big day Antonio shared some of his testimony with this Examiner. The interview unfolds below. Hopefully you are helped, encouraged or inspired by something that is mentioned here. Be blessed readers!
BCME: Tell us about your new music project.
Long: It's called the "Life Project." It is a mix tape which features production and samples by several producers. It’s an introduction to who I am creatively both as a writer and singer. The overall project's main focus is to inspire the listener in a spiritual sense and a general sense. The song lyrics are all inspired by my personal experiences however, I believe that everyone can relate in some way to what I’m expressing in the songs.
BCME: Would you consider this your ministry?
Long: Yes, I would consider music my ministry. I don't consider it my only ministry but my mission is to uplift, encourage and inspire. This is one vehicle God has called me to use in order to fulfill that purpose.
BCME: Who is your target audience?
Long: My target audience is any age, race or nationality. My music is more geared toward those individuals who have found themselves in a backslidden state or don't know Jesus Christ at all. There's something for everyone in my music.
BCME: Once you knew you wanted to write and sing what were some of your first steps to make it happen?
Long: When I decided that I wanted to write and sing I wasn't very confident in my writing or my singing. I had no idea about melody, keys or any of the components that are used to make a song. However, I did know that I was drawn to music and so I went to Morgan State University to study music. It gave me a better foundation for becoming a writer and singer.
Although I wasn't sure about becoming a solo artist I knew God gave me a gift to write songs and the more I wrote the more my writing ability grew. As far as singing I didn't decide that I wanted to sing until I got tired of trying to find a group to sing my songs. I eventually discovered my voice through recording songs in my home studio. From there I discovered that I had a unique voice that just needed to be developed and now I continue to develop through prayer and practice. From there everything is just a matter of being consistent and keeping at it.
BCME: Describe your relationship with God?
Long: My relationship with God is very interesting because sometimes I don't do what he says to do. Sometimes I don't feel good enough to be his child and sometimes I just feel like I have yet to fully become who He desires me to be. Yet, I find myself in a place of grieving over my sin and longing for more of him. In Romans, Paul said "It's the things that I will to do that I do not do. It's the things that I will not to do that I do. Oh Wretched man I am, who shall deliver me from this body of sin and death?" Then he ends that thought by saying, "thank God for Jesus Christ."
My relationship is one that simply worships God for who he is and thanking him that through Jesus Christ and what he did when he died on the cross I am part of his kingdom. Although I'm not all that I know I'm supposed to be, God's grace is perfect! I truly love God! He is my father, my mother and best friend.
BCME: What fuels your writing?
Long: I can't say one thing in particular fuels my writing. It can be a simple melody that leads me to write a song. It could be a certain feeling or experience that leads me to write a song. It changes all the time. It has become second nature for me to write at any given time without motive. All of my songs are birthed out of some part of my relationship with God or what I see around me.
BCME: What is the back story on "Just Pray"?
Long: We can think of a time of worrying over some loved one, bill, health related issue. In the end we have no control over the outcome of many situations that may arise. So the song is just a reminder to me as well as the listener that prayer changes things. I've often found myself in a place where I wanted to change things and do what God hasn't called me to do.
I desired a different outcome because I think things should be a certain way but God will get the glory however he chooses. If there is a time of suffering or tribulation that I must go through so that he can get the glory then that is how it should be. I know in the end I have the opportunity to pray and petition God for whatever my desire. Whether he chooses to grant that desire at a specific time or not I know that all things will work out for my good so that's why I say in the song, "It's going to be alright just pray, just pray.”
I do believe there are works that we must do in certain situations that can determine the outcome but I know that prayer prevails over all if we have the faith we can go to God boldly with our requests. That's why I wrote "It's going to be alright have faith believe. Just Pray."
BCME: Have you figured out what your life's purpose is yet?
Long: I've figured out some of what my life's purpose is. But I’m unsure completely as to how I’ll do that. I've realized that I'm an encourager. Nothing makes me more fulfilled than encouraging people. Music is a great way to express encouragement. So I believe my purpose is to spread a message of encouragement, the kind that's only found in Jesus Christ.
BCME: How do you distinguish your purpose from God's purpose?
Long: I believe God's will is that all men be saved. So I know that in my purpose there's a call to preach the Gospel. I'm not sure if I’ll do that through music or not but I'm aware of a burning desire to see hearts turned to Jesus Christ.
BCME: In closing, what would you advise someone interested in becoming a music artist of any genre?
Long: It's not about being famous or popular. It was a time when my mind wondered from the main focus because of my desire to have people accept me but I’m convinced that there's a bigger purpose. Write from the heart, sing from the soul and do it for the love of it all. Make sure you have the basics in order. Get a website, get business cards and take yourself seriously because if you don't take yourself seriously by covering the basics no one else will.
Even if you have to go alone in your journey just be true to yourself. It may be a lot of discouragement coming from all directions. But be encouraged and know that everyone isn't for you but there is a set group of people you’re supposed to reach but you will only get to those people by being consistent and sticking around long enough for them to find you.
This concludes the interview. Click on the video in this article to hear a snippet of Antonio's music.
BCME's closing remarks:
Something that distinguishes Christian Ministry from any other agenda is the promotion of God's kingdom. God is always talking. Whether you listen is a whole other thing. He communicates through the relationships we hold, our testimony and the life we live. Learn from one another no matter what the age, skin color, gender, denomination and remember that because He lives, we live also!
For more information about Antonio Long and his "Life Project" connect with him.