I’m not a fan of rap and I’ve never been thrilled over Kanye West. I vacillate between wondering if he’s nuts, opportunistic or is really changing his life. But lately, it seems that Kanye, 42, has found his faith in God and that is always a good thing. He’s taken his Sunday Service program across the country to spread his music.
Friday, he brought his singing to the Harris County Jail in Houston, Texas. He held his performance just a couple of days before performing at pastor Joel Osteen’s megachurch. Kanye set up the performance himself on Wednesday, according to law enforcement sources, and the jail may have caught his attention because of its large religious program.
From The Daily Mail:
“The Jesus Walks rapper and his entourage of about 100 singers and musicians arrived to set up the show early Friday morning.
“The performance was reportedly a surprise to almost everyone at the jail, as only a few people were involved in setting it up.
“Kanye was pictured with Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez while at the prison, and the elected official tweeted out his thanks for the visit.
“‘@kanyewest visited us today. I know he has a busy weekend in H-Town surrounding his visit to @lakewoodchurch, so appreciate him and his choir spending time with us,’ he wrote.
“Kanye stayed at the jail for a few hours and put on two separate performances, one for male prisoners and one for female prisoners.
“The two shows each reportedly drew a few hundred attendees.
— Jason Spencer (@JSpencer_HCSO) November 15, 2019
“The surprise show was a far cry from the massive performance he put on the previous Sunday at The Forum in Inglewood, adjacent to Los Angeles.
“Kanye performed much of his new album Jesus Is King, which he released on October 25 after numerous delays.
“As he performed for the inmates, Kim Kardashian met with Rodney Reed at the time that the inmate learned that his execution was stayed, TMZ reports.
“Since she is a legal apprentice, Kim was granted a legal visitation with Reed.
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) November 15, 2019
“Kanye is set to bring his traveling show to Lakewood Church in Houston on Sunday.
“The megachurch is home to televangelist Joel Osteen, who has courted controversy and even been labeled a heretic by some evangelical Christians for his adherence to prosperity theology, which states that material rewards are a sign of God’s approval of pious Christians.
“However, the pastor disputed this and stated to the CBC that he believes health and strong personal relationship can be a reward for faithful followers, but not money.
“Kanye has attracted his own share of criticism that his new religious phase is more about his own enrichment than a higher power.
“Kanye will be appearing at Osteen’s church twice, first at the 11 a.m. service when the pastor will interview about him about h is journey to faith and how he has overcome adversity throughout his year.
“He’ll return at 7 p.m. to perform his Sunday Service show with the full choir and band.
@kanyewest visited us today. I know he has a busy weekend in H-Town surrounding his visit to @lakewoodchurch, so appreciate him and his choir spending time with us. #HouNews pic.twitter.com/3e5s92WYY1
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) November 15, 2019
“The first 45,000 people to get tickets will be able to get into the concert for free, though the overwhelming demand temporarily overwhelmed Ticketmaster.
“The website went down for maintenance during a pre-sale Friday in which only a portion of the tickets were going on sale.
“Many lucky ticket holders quickly listed the tickets online for hundreds of dollars each.
“The venue only has seating for 16,800 people, but Kanye will perform in an overflow area that can accommodate many more.
“Kanye reportedly worked on setting up the details of the church show while he was in Houston last weekend to perform at Travis Scott’s Astroworld festival.
“‘Kanye and Joel are friends,’ Lakewood Church spokesperson Donald Iloff, Jr. told The Houston Chronicle. ‘He’s been wanting to come out for some time and it just worked out for this weekend.’
“It’s not known who might accompany Kanye on stage, though it seems like that he’ll have some high profile guests for such a large performance.
“It’s also not clear if his wife Kim Kardashian or his children will attend the show, though they’re regularly seen just off stage and his oldest daughter North, six, often dances on stage.”
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) November 16, 2019
After kicking off with one performance for more than 200 men at the 701 San Jacinto building, West ducked down into the underground tunnel and turned up in the main Baker Street jail to do a second show for a smaller crowd of women.
“You know, it really was like a worship service,” said Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
“Very uplifting, not only for the inmates that are in here, you could see some, you know, down on their knees in prayer, to even some of our teammates that were brought to tears, even his choir,” he continued.
“Say what you want about the man. But @kanyewest and his choir brought some light to people who needed it today at the Harris County Jail,” tweeted Jason Spencer, spokesman for the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
Happening now: @kanyewest’s choir and production crew packing up outside the Harris County Jail. Both male and female inmates were treated to small concerts in advance of West’s @lakewoodchurch appearance this wknd. More via @KHOU: https://t.co/Mwv07kVTEM #khou11 #htownrush pic.twitter.com/BIsYSJojqy
— Jason Miles (@JMilesKHOU) November 15, 2019
“This is a mission, not a show,” West said during the show.
West released a gospel album in October after his conversion to Christianity and has said that he intends to remove all expletives from his songs. He has also been criticized for his friendship with President Trump and his impassioned pleas to the black community to reconsider voting for Democrats. His gospel album debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart, and every one of the singles from the album made it to the top 100 chart.
“It was a very powerful moment,” said Sheriff Gonzalez of the concert.
After kicking off with one performance for more than 200 men at the 701 San Jacinto building, @kanyewest ducked down into the underground tunnel and turned up in the main Baker Street jail to do a second show for a smaller crowd of women. https://t.co/VNJqoq3Ult pic.twitter.com/95ZFVWQ0HC
— Houston Chronicle (@HoustonChron) November 15, 2019
Inmates prayed on their knees, wept and worshipped as Kanye did his thing. Officers openly shed tears and were moved by the faithful display.
West’s commitment to Christianity prompted the American Bible Society (ABS) to hand out 1,000 free Bibles to those interested in Christianity, launching an initiative called “Bibles for Kanye Fans.”
The best way to reform prisoners is through their faith so I would say that Kanye West is doing God’s work here. As unlikely as that would seem, he’s a vessel for Christianity and the Lord’s word.
Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott praised singer and rapper Kayne West’s visit to the Texas jail: “What @kanyewest does to inspire the incarcerated is transformative. Saving one soul at a time.”
“Inmates who turn to God may get released earlier b/c of good behavior & may be less likely to commit future crimes,” Abbott added. “It would be great if other artists followed Kanye’s lead.” Indeed it would be.