By AMERICAN HEART ASSOCIATION NEWS
Brandon Camphor saw a post on social media with these words: “Do you have the gospel voice that can claim the title of Most Powerful Voice?”
He was immediately intrigued.
Camphor, who four years earlier had started the gospel group “Brandon Camphor & OneWay,” read on: The American Heart Association and American Stroke Association were sponsoring a competition to engage people in learning about stroke and to spotlight up-and-coming artists.
The winner would get a chance to win fabulous prizes, including the chance to be seen by music industry leader Mathew Knowles and his company, Music World Entertainment. (Knowles is father of Beyoncé.).
“I signed up on a whim,” Camphor said, “like hey, let’s just see what happens.”
Through online votes by the public as well as votes by gospel industry judges including Knowles, Camphor and his group became winners in the independent artist category of the first-ever Most Powerful Voices gospel singing competition in 2011— setting them on the road to Billboard’s top 25 charts.
“Winning that competition was the launching pad for where we are now,” Camphor said. “It certainly began our journey into the national spotlight.”
Camphor and his group—including Julia McMillan and Camphor’s high school friends Angela Jones and Fred Cleveland—rode six-straight weeks on Billboard’s top 25 gospel national airplay chart with their independently produced song, “I Choose You.”
It’s their second time reaching the Billboard charts—the digital single “You Are God,” which they got to produce with Music World for winning the competition, made it into the top 30 for a week.
“It opened the door for me to learn the ropes to what I’m doing now independently,” Camphor said.
As winners of the contest, Camphor and his group also performed at the AHA’s Power Awards Show at New York’s Apollo Theater, an event to honor Ambassadors who raise awareness about stroke among high-risk groups.
Now, Camphor’s group has produced a second album, “Hope Is Alive,” which comes out on Aug. 28. They’ve also produced a video for “I Choose You,” which is the first single on that album.
“I Choose You” peaked at No. 21 on the Billboard chart.
“I’m very grateful and humbled, because as an artist you have dreams and you think about how many people in this world are fighting for this same spot,” Camphor said. “When I think of all the people in the world who are trying to achieve the same goals I am, I realize I’ve been blessed and fortunate to see a part of my dream realized. There’s no greater feeling than that.”
Since his Most Powerful Voices win, five more groups or artists have gone on to take prizes in the annual competition, which was discontinued this year.
Meanwhile, Camphor continues to advocate for the AHA/ASA. He notes that members of his band have seen parents suffer from heart disease.
“Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the African-American community,” he said. “When you think of gospel music, you think of the African-American community, and there’s a necessity to educate them on some of the important information that the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association has to offer.”