For the better part of 20 years, Virtue has been among the leaders of contemporary urban gospel.
A long list of hits, including “Get Ready,” “Greatest Part of Me,” “Follow Me” and “Put Your War Clothes On” have reaped the group numerous accolades and the admiration of scores of fans across the world. After a lengthy hiatus, the trio has returned to the music scene and signed a new recording contract with the Mixed Bag Entertainment imprint, which is headed by Stellar Award-winning hip-hop artist Da’ T.R.U.T.H. Picking up right where they left off, their latest single, “You Are,” spent eight consecutive weeks in the top 20 on Billboard BDS and MediaBase Gospel Airplay charts.
Ro recently caught up with the ladies to discuss their longevity in the ever-changing music business and their new album, Fearless.
With over 20 years at the forefront of contemporary gospel, how do you manage to stay relevant in the face of the ever-changing music scene?
We are big fans and lovers of all music, especially Gospel. So we’re constantly listening to music and then we just sing music that is in our hearts and that we connect to. Of course the world is ever evolving, but we just stay true to ourselves, and it just happens to be in style and relevant.
How did you individually spend the hiatus the group took before returning to the scene in 2014?
While we were not putting out records during our hiatus, it was difficult for us because we missed singing and being together terribly. During that time we did try and make some music a couple times, actually a lot of music, but nothing ever seemed to completely come together. Karima is a mother of a beautiful daughter named Karly. That kept her busy and she also did a solo project entitled Just Karima. It’s a wonderful project that she was able to write and co-produce herself. Karima was also recently able to go back to school and graduate from college. In addition to being a wife and mother to her handsome son, Stinger, Ebony is also a first grade teacher at a private school in Maryland and children’s choir director. And Heather is a wife, and mother of four, which keeps her very busy, and she teaches music part-time at her children’s school.
What’s the significance of titling the album Fearless?
Well, there is so much significance in naming our album Fearless. When we were approached by Gary Crockett, CEO of Mixed Bag Entertainment, we were very skeptical and it took us two years to say yes. It has all been a faith walk because when you look at the fact that we all live in three different cities, and we all lead other lives as mothers, wives, teachers, it has taken so much faith and courage to believe that this could all work. We decided that this ministry is not about us. God is just using us to have his will be done. Therefore, we have nothing to fear. God has brought us through so many life experiences that has just taught us to trust him, to give him our insecurities, doubts, worries, questions, everything and allow him to bear those burdens. When we do this, we are choosing to live a life of faith and fearlessness.
How did the collaboration with hip-hop artist Dee-1 come about on “You Are”?
A couple years ago we heard Dee-1 perform at the Dove Awards Pre-Show and we were blown away! After the show we met him and discovered that like us, he is a native of New Orleans. We were excited and determined that if we were going to have a rap on our next album, we had to include him.
Tell me about the two remakes included on the album “More Than Words” and “Miracle,” what was it about those songs drew you in to want to re-do them?
When we started planning the record we knew we wanted to do a cover of a hymn or a popular song so we asked a good industry friend of ours who knows us well her opinion of what we should do, and she suggested “More Than Words.” As soon as she did, we all agreed that it was a perfect choice because we had all grown up listening to this popular song and the words couldn’t be more fitting for any relationship. As for “Miracle,” we have always loved and admired The Clark Sisters. We had already finished our album and were maybe looking for one more song. We were asked to be a part of a great tribute honoring Twinkie Clark and this song was chosen for us to sing. We were super nervous, but we sang it for the Twinkie, Karen, and Jackie Clark and they loved it! After that we decided we had to include it on the album.
Favorite affirmations or quotes?
Heather – Psalms 32:8, “I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way you should go, I will guide you with my eye.”
Ebony – “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13,
Karima – “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen.” Hebrews 11:1.
What’s next for Virtue?
We are following God’s lead. You can expect to see us all over the country touring to promote this new record and we also have a cookbook on the horizon. We have an interesting take on food, being from New Orleans we love to eat, but we were also raised by our mother, who is a strict vegan. Needless to say, this makes for very delicious and unique eating! We want to share our love for cooking and lovingly taking care of the bodies God has given us. We know that it will be revolutionary.
For more information on Virtue, please visit their website www.virtuegirls3.com or connect with them on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter at @VirtueGirls.