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Transmission
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Thu Aug 27 2015

A Disciple Takes On His Church: An Interview with Sir the Baptist

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Anybody who has been baptized knows that the church is more than an institution. It's a culture. And like every culture, it too has its rebels. From Al Green to Jennifer Hudson, many of rhythm-and-blues' greatest voices have been disciples of gospel gone secular. But fewer are those rebels that try to embrace both the virtuous and hedonistic in equal measure.

In that effort, Chicago's own Sir the Baptist, born Sir William James Stokes, has few predecessors. And often times in his music, while attempting to bridge the gap between his past as a preacher's kid from Bronzeville and his future as a rocketing rhythm-and-blues star, Stokes' knowingly contradicts himself. Perhaps that's why when I ask if he considers his music "church music" he replies,"It is and it isn't." Or when I ask him if he thinks his music belongs to the gospel or rhythm-and-blues genre he says, "both" and then explains further ...

"What we've done in music is compartmentalize our lives so much so that we don't even know who we are. I have people who were brought up in the church that sing with me on my albums because they know I'm singing the truth, but they won't perform with me in concert because they don't want to be associated with challenging the church."

With that statement, the purpose of Stokes' music crystallizes. This music man is on a mission to reveal the hypocrisies that are inherent to any kind of life spent adhering to a restrictive dogma, which in Stokes' case is Christianity. But Stokes cannot shake his halo, nor does he feel like he has to. "I'd say I'm spiritual, bot not religious. Or if I am religious, I'm religiously free." By which he means, he tries to be the same person on Saturday night that he is on Sunday morning. And then he goes home to write music about the complexities of being an old-school preacher's kid in a modern world to tantalizing effect.

So far that quest has brought forth two immaculate and inundating singles, "Creflo (Almighty) Dollar" and "Raise Hell" and more is on the way. Stokes recently finished recording his first album, PK, and the groundswell around him continues to build. To find out what all the fuss is about, check out Sir the Baptist on September 2nd at Jerry's in Wicker Park. The show has a $10 cover, is 21+, and starts at 9 pm.


 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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