The late Bill “The Mailman” Martin, Texas Gospel Announcers Guild President said,
As a gospel announcer, I’ve heard great gospel singers and musicians across the country, but I also believe that every now and then from among the masses, there arises a special person that God has truly chosen to do a special work for Him. Such is the case here. Through God’s perfect timing and direction, Chester D. T. Baldwin is rising through the ranks to take his place among the truly great gospel artists of all time!
Chester D.T. Baldwin is a highly sought after national recording artist and church choir workshop clinician, having been recognized and honored by his peers and gospel industry for excellence in gospel music. He has received resounding acclaim for his rousing, spirit-filled, anointed presentation of the Gospel through the medium of song. Referred to as the “Prime Minister of Praise,” he is the “hardest working man in gospel music.”
Chester is a native of Liberty, Texas and was reared by his beloved mother, Gussie, who he affectionately called “MuDear.” He is the fifth of give children: Arthur (Bubba), Marvin (Sip), Gerald (Buster), Loretta (Sissy), and him. His love for music was noted first in the home as his sister would come from piano lessons and practice her pieces and he would follow her to the piano and play the music “by ear.” Baptized at the Trinity Valley Baptist Church, he began to play for the church at 12 years of age and became the minister of music at 15.
His love for gospel music was nurtured by his mother, a gospel “songstress” in her own right. Now, with more than 35 years of leadership experience, Chester brings a no-nonsense biblical perspective to the need for discipline, reverence, a spirit of excellence, and commitment in the church’s music ministry dynamic. Chester’s anointed teaching in workshop and clinic settings has caught the attention of pastors and ministers of music across the country as he performs and hosts over 150 clinic days and concerts in the United States and abroad including Europe and Asia throughout the year. Gospel Today had the unique opportunity to interview this Gospel Music Genius.
GT: Who is Chester D.T. Baldwin?
CB: I am music minister servant who realized early on that God made me for song. I am skillfully and wonderfully made to minister music to and for the Body of Christ.
GT: How and why did you start your Music Ministry Mass Choir?
CB: I always wanted to record music that could be a resource for the church musician for the Sunday morning church worship. I believe that our churches still need to be led to the throne of grace in worship with accessible, sound, gospel-grounded music. And as a wonderful byproduct, I used the proceeds from sales to fund 10 years of performing arts Summer camps that ministered to over 1,200 kids. I know that many people believe you can only be fulfilled by pursing careers that allow you to make a lot of money, but money cannot buy contentment. But I wanted to open the door for our young people to use their God-given gifts and abilities and feel valued as well as pursue their destinies.
GT: How has your faith allowed you to endure in music ministry and stay with the ups and downs of the Gospel Music Industry and the changing landscape of the modern day Church?
CB: I have been able to endure because I have remained true to who and what God made me for. I never have desired the place of anyone else, but I have spent my energies and time developing the gifts in me, allowing God to elevate as He sees fit. So staying true to my gifts has allowed me to carve my own little niche in the gospel music ministry arena.
I am often called the musicians’ musician, because I have been blessed to be able to develop others into a stronger music ministry walk. It is important to now more than ever that we stay true to God’s Word and not be concerned about favor with man but assume the posture of faithful living and trusting in the favor of God.
GT: What type of legacy do you hope to leave in Gospel Music?
CB: The legacy I hope to leave is music that ministers and ministry that matters. Worship and praise songs that continue to be spiritually effective, transcending time and space and causes the masses to see the worth in faithful living and knowing that God is our source.
GT: How would you categorize your brand of music ministry?
CB: A gospel announcer out of Arkansas, the late Donna Creer, coined a name for the kind of gospel music that I do; she called it Progressive Gospel Music (PGM). She said
What Chester does is not really traditional and it ain’t all the way contemporary, its progressive.
She is also credited with calling me the “Prime Minister of Praise.” If I had to define progressive gospel music, I would say it maintains a firm hold on the fundamental elements of good traditional gospel music; its language, cadence, spirit, and feel; while utilizing the contemporary delivery system of synthesized instrumentation and arrangements. PGM is the fusion of the old and new school; the old school song with the new school sound! PGM offers something for every gospel musical taste.
GT: What is your vision for Chester Baldwin’s Music?
CB: My vision is to continue to write music that ministers to the Body of Christ and providing music that choirs can sing on Sunday morning and be blessed all week long. My vision also includes assisting others to pursue their God born destinies. I started a record label called “MyOwnRecordCo The Progressive Gospel Music Company” to give other artists a place to launch out into the deep. There are so many anointed and gifted psalmists who need someone to invest in them. I recognize in my walk that I cannot eat all of my seed, so I am planting in other people’s lives to help them reach their potential in Christ.
GT: Where do you see Gospel music in five years as an industry?
CB: Gospel music has been revolutionized over the past 20 years. However, you will find most artists get to that place where they feel a need to go back to their roots. I believe that gospel music will continue to evolve into a genre widely accepted in mainstream music arenas as an art form. But for the believer, it will remain our vehicle to speak to and about our God and our Savior Jesus Christ. As an art form, persons who would not otherwise hear the good news can be evangelized, as a tool of worship, believers will continue to express their love and devotion to a God who can do all things, anytime, anywhere! The Omni-God!
GT: What type of advice do you have for up and coming Gospel artists?
CB: I say to Gospel artists who desire this work, be sure that you know what you are asking for, because with THIS comes great responsibility. I confess that I walked contrary, and I am ashamed of disregard at times for the great responsibility God gave to me. Now, I am doing all to walk in integrity and to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith I have been called. God has blessed me with favor and I am grateful.
GT: Where do you see Chester D.T. Baldwin and M3 in five years?
CB: M3 and I will evolve also as gospel music evolves, holding true to who we are in Christ. I do not covet the success of other artists and groups, but I do want to leave it all out on the field. Like Paul, I want to be poured out like a drink offering. We hope to continue to be an effective tool for the Body of Christ through song.
GT: What advice can you give pastors and church leaders when seeking musicians for their ministry?
CB: I would say to pastors and church leaders to seek God for direction with the same diligence and thoroughness that you did to “call” a pastor. This transcends church size, denomination, and locale. They need seek out someone who is not just talented, but who genuinely loves God and is willing to “buy” into the ministry, with a full understanding of their responsibility to our God and their role in the overall scope of the ministry. It is so important for the sake of the ministry that no one feels like or is treated like a hireling. A hireling has no loyalty, no investment, no incentive to help build. But church leadership needs to seek ministry minded persons whose spiritual personality compliments the leadership vision. Musicians should also seek out ministries that fit their spiritual gifts.
GT: What can a church do to develop musicians within their church body?
CB: Churches need to invest in their music staves. Musicians need to take it upon themselves to invest themselves. Not just in continued education, but also in personal development. Spiritually, we need to be moving toward becoming more like Christ in our lives. Sometimes people can’t hear our song because our lifestyle is too loud. Musically, we need to hone our gifts. We have so much more access to others now with the help of the Internet. Because of the diversity of our churches, we no longer stand before people who came from one background, but we stand before a smorgasbord of believers and so, like Paul, we need to develop our gifts to become all that we might win some.
GT: Where can we purchase your CDs and learn more about your ministry?
CB: The new CDs are entitled “God Is Guilty” and “I Shall Live,” two CDs from one live recording! There is something for everybody on these CDs. We stay true to presenting Psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. They are available on our website, www.chesterdtbaldwinmusic.com, CDBaby, iTunes, and all of the online stores. Remember because GOD IS GUILTY, I SHALL LIVE and I SHALL LIVE because GOD IS GUILTY.
GT: Thank you so much Chester D.T. Baldwin for your time and sitting down with Gospel Today. We pray God’s favor upon your ministry and we look forward to hearing your ministry works on the radio and beyond.