The Tonex Effect

     I remember very vividly my first experience with Tonex as a live, gospel performer. It was the summer of 2003 and I had just taken on the presidency of the Gospel Choir at my university. As a summer trip, me and the few members taking summer school, went to a "Gospel Fest" where Tonex was joined by Mary Mary. I had all of his albums, but at the time I wasn't too impressed. However, I did love the statement he was making: a black man can be radical and spiritual.
     His music, for some reason, made the front rows volitile, as if they was a violent upheaval of the spirit. I literally saw demons snapping at his feet as he performed; men and women were carried away by security as he sang "God has not 4got". In the very back, I watched in awe as he sang every song as if he was on the verge of death. His vocals were very skillful and versatile, ranging from elegant to rough to brazen.
     Near the end of the concert, he began to minister to the audience. He began to prophecy, pray and preach with great fervor. I'll never forget it, he said, "Yeah! You may be the president of the gospel choir! But you're still watching gay pornography and masterbating! Stand upright!" I felt like I was kicked in the gut. On the exterior, I clapped and smiled, but on the inside, I was in agony! How did he know? I felt like my budding homosexuality was blooming for the world to see! I felt blessed and betrayed at the same fucking time!
     Fast forwarding to this year, Tonex has publicly came out of the closet. Knowing his music thoroughly, I heard him singing, "Johnny come lately, I need bad" back in 2006; but I guess the Christian world is shocked that he would outwardly admit to not only having an attraction to men, but having gay sex. Futhermore, they are outraged about how he went on to not see it as a 'struggle' but a quality. Again, I can see the demons swiping at his ankles.
     If you were to study his body of work, you'd pick on a sense of duality. There are songs like "Eye Call" and "Fail U" that are tailor made for the gay clubs, but has the name of Jesus strategically placed throughout. I hope that he'll be able to accomplish a sound that is conducive to both freedom and holiness. A sound that epresses his carnality and spiritualty; finding the intersecting point between. I am looking forward to his first musical outing.
     I realize now that his piercing prophecy wasn't aimed towards me, but a revelation to himself. Likewise, I, myself, will have to follow his direction and loosen the shackles of my creativity. I, too, can be a part of his radical movement...

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