Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

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  • Published Feb 24, 1999
by Mike Nappa for Crosswalk Music

Well, the secret's out music fans, and you can tell everybody you know that you heard it first right here on's Music Channel.

No, it's not the fact that new EMI Gospel artist, {{Darwin Hobbs}}, has a voice so silky smooth it'd make chocolate seem sour by comparison. After stints singing backup for luminaries like {{CeCe Winans}}, Michael McDonald, {{Donnie McClurkin}}, and {{Michael Card}}, most everybody knows that.

And no, it's not that Darwin's hot new album, ==Mercy==, is finally out either. An album like this that effortlessly mixes R&B, gospel, and praise and worship styles into one unique whole is hard to keep quiet.

It's that Darwin's got a secret fear, a phobia if you will: The man can't stand bugs-cockroaches, specifically. The teeny little crawling creatures give big, strong Darwin the heebie-jeebies. It's true! Just mention the word "cockroaches" and Darwin's response is immediate: "Oh Lord! I'm starting to itch already!" the poor guy moans. "Yuck! Don't talk about [the bugs]-don't even stay on it too long!"

Alas, we have to talk about it further, because it seems that these little night scavengers almost brought a premature end to young Darwin's promising career as a vocalist. He explains

"About four years after I started singing, I had this big dream of going to Julliard School of Music and studying voice. And, actually, I got a four-year scholarship to study voice at Jackson State University. I went for like a weekend-and then I came back home!"

Darwin was unhappy with his college roommates-cockroaches! Thousands of them. "I got to the dormitory and it was infested with roaches!" he says. "So I stayed from Friday to Monday I said, 'I'm getting out of here.' And that's what I did."

Thankfully, there's room in Christian music for a man who is scared of bugs. Darwin continued singing in his home church in Cincinnati, and in community choirs and vocal groups, making a name for himself as a talented gospel artist on the local scene. But it was an experience at a {{CeCe Winans}} concert in 1995 that convinced Darwin to take his gift outside Cincinnati's city limits.

Sitting under the spell of CeCe's mesmerizing performance, Darwin was awestruck. "I had never experienced the glory of God mixed with such creativity and skill." After the show he determined to use his musical ability to usher people into God's presence the same way CeCe had ushered him. With that in mind, Darwin and his wife, Traci, relocated to Christian music's hub, Nashville, Tennessee, in 1996. Soon after, work as a session singer and backup vocalist began pouring in, and by 1997 Darwin was touring with {{Michael Card}} and others.

It was during the tour with {{Michael Card}} that Darwin's commitment to a Christian music career was sorely tested-when he found out there could be something even worse than cockroaches! It happened during a concert in Lima, Ohio

"We went out on the stage, three of us background singers and Mike Card and musicians. So we're all starting the concert and we start just blasting and singing and out of nowhere, there were bats that started flying down onto the stage and into our faces! And let me tell you, all of us [except {{Michael Card}}] ran out of the theater."

Still, the show must go on, so moments later Darwin found himself back on stage to do a mini-set of his solo songs. "I just kept my eyes closed the entire time," laughs Darwin. "People afterwards were like, 'Oh, goodness. The bats were swooping down over your head while you were singing.' I mean, it was crazy. That's the most bizarre thing that's ever happened to me."

Bats notwithstanding, Darwin remains committed to using his voice to glorify God, especially in a praise and worship setting. "That's where my heart is," says Darwin. "And I think we'll see more of that on my own records to comeI want more of that."

When asked what it is about praise and worship that gets him so fired up, Darwin responds "It's a very intimate way of communicating with God. Really, it's a way of life for me to praise Him. I don't see it as just something that you do on Sunday mornings, and I think a lot of people have adapted to it as suchBut I indeed believe that it's a lifestyle. So because I've adapted to that, then I respond to praise and worship quickly."

Passing on that spirit of praise to his listeners is what keeps Darwin fulfilling his call to sing. Speaking of his ministry as a Christian musician, he explains, "This is a call upon my life, so it's a joy because I feel like I'm being obedient to the Lord."

The conversation drifts toward the hardships of being an up-and-coming R&B/gospel musician (bats excluded). Darwin mentions the dangers of harming your voice by singing the sometimes vocally "incorrect" gospel style, the constant struggle to make ends meet financially, and the relational strains that naturally come from road trips and time away from family.

Then he smiles and adds, "[But] It's a joy to share with people and serve people-especially God's people-and [with] people that maybe don't even belong to GodI hope my music would facilitate them meeting God during the day."

And for {{Darwin Hobbs}}, that makes it all worthwhile.

Darwin Hobbs: Just the Facts

Full Name: Darwin Todd Hobbs.
Born Where and When: Cincinnati Ohio, November 30, 1968.
Debut Album: ==Mercy== (EMI Gospel, 1999)
Musical Influences: Luther Vandross, {{BeBe Winans}}, {{CeCe Winans}}, {{Fred Hammond}}.
Hidden Talent: Hair (He even gave producer Bill Nash a haircut during the recording of ==Mercy==!)
Dream Duet: {{CeCe Winans}}.
Favorite Thing to do in Spare Time: "Talk to my wife."
Favorite Hymn: "I Need Thee Every Hour."
Favorite Bible Verse: 1 Peter 5:10.
Email Address:
Snail Mail Address: Darwin Hobbs, P.O. Box 218456, Nashville, Tennessee, 37221