Lecrae is the first hip-hop performer featured in the annual Christian music tour since it started in 1995. (Winter Jam)
Music with a transformational message is what the performers of Winter Jam 2014 will offer Saturday at Joe Louis Arena.
That is how Grammy-winning rap/hip-hop artist Lecrae sees it. He is headlining the concert comprising 10 artists, and the first hip-hop performer featured in the annual Christian music tour since it started in 1995.
“I did not anticipate the warm reception I’d get from the fans,” the rapper says. “I just knew they still had to get used to me. But they’ve really embraced what I’ve got going on.”
Lecrae’s entrance into Christian music, he says, came after years of having role models who were guys in the street; he was a big fan of Tupac, Nas and Jay-Z.
“I had never seen a Christian man,” Lecrae says. “My grandmother was a devout Christian, and I knew what that looked like. I’d just never seen a man consistently practice this faith.”
That all changed when he was 19. He attended a conference only because, he admits, he was interested in meeting girls.
“But I got there and I saw young men who loved God, and they were from communities like I was from — who dressed like I dressed, and who had been through what I had been through, and their faith was unshaken.” He was inspired to ask questions, and he says his life was transformed.
He went on to graduate from the University of North Texas with a degree in Applied Arts and Sciences, focusing on mass communications and electronic media.
In 2005, Lecrae co-founded Reach Records and started pumping out music, which initially went as far as a juvenile detention center in his Houston, Texas, hometown where he wanted to inspire youth.
His music gained popularity, earning him a Grammy nomination for Best Rock/Rap Gospel album for his 2010 release “Rehab.” And in 2012, he received a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Album for “Gravity.”
His latest album, “Church Clothes 2,” is his second nod to the misbelief that people like him who didn’t grow up in church aren’t allowed in unless they dress and carry themselves a certain way.
“You start believing that people won’t let you come to church because of the way you’re dressed or that God won’t let you have a relationship with him because of those very same things,” he says. “I wanted to break those misconceptions down and say, ‘God is a God of grace,’ and he says, ‘Come as your are.’ ”
Also on the Winter Jam line-up is singer Plumb, whose mission, she says, is to let people know there is always hope.
“The definition of hope to me is believing that God is who he says he is,” says the wife and mother of three. “That hope allows you to not just survive through circumstances, but to thrive and become something greater than what was.”
With songs on her sixth and latest album like “Drifting,” a duet co-written with Jars of Clay friend Dan Haseltine, and the title track “Need You Now,” she explains there is a shred of hope running through what may seem like hopeless situations.
“There are some really painful things throughout the record, but that’s real life,” she says. “I write about real, true and honest things that might even be incredibly difficult.”
Plumb says because of her often mysterious rock sound, her music has been featured in films such as “Bruce Almighty,” the TV show “Pretty Little Liars” and ESPN’s March Madness.
The music is not all dark, though. “We were made to have joy and jump around and have a good time,” Plumb says.
Winter Jam 2014 Tour Spectacular
With Newsboys, Lecrea, Tenth Avenue North, Thousand Foot Krutch, Plumb, Newsong, Colton Dixon, Love & the Outcome, Everfound and Derek Minor
6 p.m. Saturday
Joe Louis Arena
19 Steve Yzerman Drive, Detroit
Tickets $10 (cash or check only), at the door only
Andrea Daniel is a freelance reporter.