“Created to Worship” kicks in with William’s passionate vocal riding atop a torchy, bluesy piano. The song’s power swells as the band and ensemble fall in, leading to a thrilling crescendo that suddenly drops to a gentle, reverential coda.
William adds his own, definitive spin to “Praise Is What I Do,” again letting the acoustic guitar lead off what build into a powerful congregational anthem, as William lays down astonishing vocal improvisations off the choir’s rock-solid rendering of the eminently singable chorus.
As William movingly addresses on “I Know Why I Am Here”, he was born out of wedlock, to teen-aged parents who never married, though as he makes clear in the song’s narrative, neither his nor any birth is ever a ‘mistake’ in God’s sight. Raised by his mother, in her house, he was also in close proximity and relationship with his father as well throughout his life and received strong parenting from both.
William was given a solid foundation in both the church and its music, as his father and grandfather were musically gifted, and the elder a Baptist minister and his son a minister and bishop. Both men, still active in the ministry and in strong voice, join William on All Day on the powerful, fervent ballad, “Be Strong.”
“Church is what I’ve known all my life,” he says. “My family is rich in the heritage of the Gospel, in spoken-word ministry as well as music. That was the foundation I grew up on.”
William was born and raised in Detroit, where he lived until his late 20s, before moving to Atlanta in 2001 to take the position of Senior Minister of Worship at Bishop Eddie Long’s renowned New Birth Missionary Baptist Church.
While William came from strongly religious surroundings, he describes that environment as having been ‘very balanced,’ and in addition to absorbing the work of a number of great gospel artists, Marvin Winans and Kirk Franklin foremost among them, he was allowed to listen to popular secular artists. Particular head-turners to the young William included Lionel Ritchie, Luther Vandross (“Man, I went through a phase where I wanted to be Luther Vandross!” he laughs); and the multitude of legendary figures on the 1985 , uplifting smash, “We Are the World” (“I could sing everybody’s part… Lionel, Michael, Diana Ross! I had that one down!” he adds.)
Although he had cousins who had been, proverbially, singing from the cradle, William’s talents were later in coming to the fore, as he sang for the first time in front of a congregation at age 14, after having first been active in school musical programs.
“I was the late bloomer in the family,” he remembers. “I just woke up one morning and discovered I could sing! For a number of years I thought I would just use that gift in my father’s and grandfather’s church, and that would be it. But I was 19, and at a Kirk Franklin concert in Detroit, and I heard the Lord telling He had given me this voice to go a lot farther than that. I felt Him calling me to reach nations. Still, it took about another 10 years to get to the point I’m at now.”
In that interim, after being part of a choir on an album produced by gospel legend, the late Thomas Whitfield, as well as music director at his father’s church, he took a job as a bank teller. It was not long, to say the least, before William felt the Lord speaking to him in a considerably louder voice about His intentions for William to go into full-time ministry.