We’ve all heard cliché expressions about how first impressions are lasting impressions, and how you should dress for success, etc. Although rudimentary, these saying speak to the human perspective of how we treat and interact with each other. Although superficial things like a person’s appearance should not be the most important aspect of them (or how we interact and treat a person), the truth is, it is more important than we would like to admit.
The same is also true for the music business. An artist’s image is just as important, some may argue even more so, than the music they produce.  In many cases, the image of the artist is the first thing that is seen, even before the first note of a song is heard. Think about it, there are several instances when an artist’s image is seen (judged and considered) before a song is heard. For example, an artist submitting their press kit to an A&R or music publication for consideration, or even a consumer browsing through a rack of CDs in a local music store. In either instance, the artist’s photo (or image) is the first thing seen and judged before their music is heard. (If you need more advice on imaging/branding, start here). 
So, unless you’ve been under a rock, you’ll know that everyone in the Gospel community seems to be talking about this promotional image of Erica Campbell of Mary Mary. 
While many people love the image, others have been in a complete uproar about it by calling her attire inappropriate. Ultimately, the naysayers believe that the image she is portraying is not Christ-like or church appropriate. Personally, I do not understand what the fuss is about. She is literally covered from neck to mid-calf. Yes, the dress is form fitted, but as many ladies know, if you are a certain shape, it doesn’t matter what you wear, your figure will be seen.
This is the added layer of responsibility that Gospel artists have to consider when shaping their image. Biblical principle teaches us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. Is God not beautiful? God created Erica in all of her fierceness. The same can be said for countless other Gospel artists, especially in the Holy-Hip Hop arena who are often criticized because they do not wear suits and ties. As these artists try to express themselves in different ways, all while attempting to reach younger audiences and glorify God in the process, they are sometimes judged for their attire and images too. But, did not God bless them with the creativity that sparked the image they want to portray? Just because I may not like the image that a person has chosen does not give me the right to judge them for their decision. The “judgment” should come from what they are speaking and singing about. If their speech, actions and songs are uplifting God, are pleasing in His sight, and are bringing people closer to God, then they are achieving our mission as Christians to spread the Gospel of Christ.
This matter is close to my heart because as a manager of urban contemporary Gospel artists, I am often faced with people who misjudge my clients because of their image. Not everyone is happy with some of the decisions we make regarding wardrobe and imaging, but we continue to move forward with what we find to be energetic, urban, youthful and fresh. But, most of all, we move on what God has placed in our hearts!

So, I hope you enjoy our latest release … Jor’Dan Armstrong’s “Stay Clean” video featuring Franchise Tief. Feel free to leave a comment about this post and on the actual video.

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