Sherwin Gardner is a composer, music producer, multiple-award winner and a Godly force for the Kingdom who has been spreading the gospel around the globe for a quarter of a century.
As an artist, he has shared the stage with many of today’s gospel greats including Deitrick Haddon, Israel Houghton, Yolanda Adams, Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Donnie McClurkin, Papa San, Stitchie, DA T.R.U.T..H, BeBe and CeCe Winans and Lecrea. As a producer, he has stamped his mark on an impressive list of artists including Vanessa Briggs, Sean Simmonds, Jason Mighty, Monte G, Jonathan Nelson, Keron Ramsey, J Prince and DA T.R.U.T.H.
Sherwin wants listeners to know the limitless power of the Lord, and that, despite their background, class or economic status, God can and will use anyone who desires to spread the Gospel. What God is doing for this young singer’s career is nothing compared to how he moved during Sherwin’s birth. The middle of seven siblings, Sherwin’s arrival into the world was nothing short of a miracle. His mother had fallen ill and doctors feared she had cancer. Thankfully, the tests were negative, but it was discovered that Mrs. Gardner was 20 weeks into a pregnancy of which she was unaware. She was advised to abort the fetus for fear that it would either jeopardize her life or bear a deformed child. Despite several warnings from doctors, she refused to abort and Sherwin was born healthy and whole.
He began touring at sixteen, and has since visited most of the Caribbean Islands. At seventeen, Sherwin produced and released his first album entitled “Power in the Name”. There followed “100% Sold Out”, “I Rather Jesus”, and a compilation, “One Step Closer to Zion”, featuring artists produced by Sherwin as a joint project with fellow gospel artist Monty G of the Bahamas. The turning point was Sherwin’s 2002 release “Leaning” (Lion of Zion), which catapulted him into the international limelight on both gospel and mainstream charts.
He was also awarded Most Impacting Artist at the 2002 Barbados Flame Gospel Awards. The following year he established his own label, Flow Masters Records, building an exciting roster of Trinidadian talent. Sherwin’s second international release, “Closer”, produced the No. 1 radio single “He Died For Me” (Hamalhamadla), which spent a staggering 21 weeks at the top spot on numerous Caribbean radio charts. That song also earned him 2004’s Gospel Songwriter of the Year by the Copyright Organization of Trinidad & Tobago (COTT), the Island’s most recognized music industry body. Sherwin made a huge impact at the 2004 Marlin Awards, the Caribbean’s official Gospel industry association. With a record-breaking 22 nominations, he eventually won five awards including: Ethnic Recording of the Year, Foreign Language Recording of the Year, Engineered Recording of the Year, Calypso/Soca Recording of the Year and Reggae Vocals of the Year, which also marked the first time a non-Jamaican had ever won this category.
For Sherwin Gardner, the journey is only the beginning as he continues to break into uncharted territories. More than just a singer or producer, Sherwin is a young man whose heart is focused on spreading the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Charles Clark: I start all of my interviews off by just saying thank you for the interview. I really
appreciate you taking out the time to talk to me today. Thank you so much, sir.
Sherwin Gardner: You’re welcome.
CC: My first question is, “Who is Sherwin Gardner?”
SG: Well, to answer that in a nutshell, I’m a Worship Leader and a Minister of Music from Trinidad & Tobago, but I live in Antigua and Barbuda, where I am the Minister of Worship at my church, SJPC House of Restoration Ministries. I’ve been a singer for a very long time. I love the Lord; I’m a pastor’s kid and soon-to-be minister, as well. My focus is really on getting people to wholeheartedly worship God with all their heart, their mind and their souls.
CC: I’ve listened to the new album… Thank you for having your team send it. But I wanted to know a little bit more about you and your music. So, I began to look up – through the power of YouTube and Spotify – just to listen to as much of your music as I can. So, I began to listen to your version of How Great Is Our God, Real, I Worship You, Let It Rain, Rescue Me… Really, when I heard Because of You, it touched me in such a way that, first of all, I said, “Who is Sherwin Gardner? And why is this the first time I’m hearing of him?” And then, I just began to look for as much music as I could. In reading your information, [I found] you have recorded at least 16 albums, to your credit. And I wanted to know what is the difference between all of your other albums and this new album, Greater?
SG: Well, there is a bit of difference. I am what some people would call, one of the icons of Caribbean Gospel Music. I’ve been singing since I was five years old but I started to reggae and dancehall and Caribbean music when I was about 14 or 15 years old, I believe… Somewhere around 1994 or ’95. I was one of the founders in doing Caribbean-style Gospel sound and in those days, we used to get a lot of fight, a lot of talk, because reggae and Caribbean music was only identified as secular music. People would always say that this was not of God and we continued to grind and continued to do what we have to do. And I understand that the Word says “by their fruit you shall know them” and as I continued to do it, people started to see young people coming closer to Christ; listening to positive lyrics; listening to the message. Then, they started to accept it. In 1999, when Papa San came into the picture, with Kirk Franklin, that kinda helped because he was one of the popular Caribbean artists in secular and he was still doing dance hall. So, it kinda helped what we were doing and then I got signed in 2001. My international recording career started with that theme song that you mentioned earlier, I Worship You, which is one of top hits of all time that people know from me. So, I’ve been in the industry for a very long time but more on the radio on the Caribbean side of the cloud. So, the Caribbean people and their families know who I am. When I got signed to Lion of Zion, that would have been my third or fourth album already. So, before I started doing Caribbean music, I have always been a worship leader; I started in church, I grew up in church and worship leading was my first love. So, throughout my career, I continue to put one or two worship songs or remake a worship song in reggae, like How Great Is Our God. I always try to keep that identity because I knew that one day I would come back to my first love. And I was just really obedient to God because I wanted to do my live recording since 2004 and the Holy Spirit told me that this wasn’t the right time. I had some growing up to do as a minister… In 2015, my mom came to Antigua and Barbuda to attend the gospel festival I do every year and she had a first row seat to witness the depth of my testimony that was my birth. For those who don’t know, my mom was really sick at the time she was pregnant; she didn’t even know she was pregnant… She has to do a barium x-ray and after that, she found out that she was 20 weeks pregnant, so all the doctors [and] everybody said that she should abort the baby because he would either be born crippled or deformed. And God had a different plan for my life. She chose life and she said this baby will be used by God to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ… So, that was the birth of Because of You. In January of 2016, I released a studio version of it to the Caribbean audience, just to, kinda like, make a statement that I’m really going into my first love. You know, I’m not gonna stop doing Caribbean music, but I’m really gonna focus on being a call into worship because that’s what I do every Sunday at my church and that’s who I am. It did tremendous[ly] in the Caribbean and I just made a bold step and said I’m gonna do my live recording in 2016. So, I invited Tyscot Records… and we had a grand time in the presence of the Lord. After that, Tyscot approached me and we had a meeting and I got signed to Tyscot and because of the powerful testimony, Because of You was that song that they chose to be the leading single off the album. And it’s been tremendous, again. So Sherwin Gardner has a really long, long heritage of Gospel and someone who really knows what it is to pioneer and help others; because, throughout my career, I’ve always been a producer… I’ve produced a lot of Caribbean Gospel artists; I write for them… Even now, I have been trying to succeed in other ministries as well… So, this album, Greater, is different because it is not just full of more songs that [are] Caribbean style; but it’s a marriage of Caribbean and worship…
CC: You’re 38 years old and you’re on your 17th album. There are people who have been in the Gospel business as long as you are and have not released 17 albums. Do you feel that the testimony that you and your mother have kind of put you in the way that you have to get as much music out to gain followers to Christ? Is there a specific call on your life and you don’t want to waste any time?
SG: Right … Yes. I totally believe that, as well as that coming from the Caribbean, my people look at it differently than the United States. A lot of us in the Caribbean try to stay current and relevant because there’s so much music coming out of the Caribbean every day. Every year there’s a carnival season here, so every year, there’s the creation of new music… Every single year. So, when we come from a culture whereby we have to continue staying relevant for the young people and we need to reach the young people. And really, my heart’s desire is to see the young people express worship wholeheartedly and not just enjoy the music; but really express worship to God. I think that is one of the things that drives me, as well. [Also] I know that this is something God called me to do, and my mom prayed and I got prophecies about it; but I do believe personally that I have a personal commitment to God… I write all the time. I already know the title track of the next album… I already have at least nine songs on my next album… For me, when this assignment is done, you always have to prepare yourself for the next one; so, I’m in preparation for the next step and I’m hearing God’s voice and I’m seeking Him to know where to go next. That’s something that I’m used to and I’m just here to be used by God.
CC: What is the process of songwriting for you?
SG: Man, it’s very unique. I’m one of the persons, who I hear a song from God and I don’t write it on paper. Most of these songs are written out in my mind. So, if I wake up the next day and I still hear that melody and that song then I know that this is something that God wants me to do. So, I keep developing it in my mind until I get to the studio and put a sketch to it and start working on it from there. When I say that I put a sketch, it means that I will record the idea on the mic, but I’ve never really written… It’s funny, because when I was doing the album, Tyscot asked me to send the lyric and I had to go type up all the lyrics because I had never really done it like that before. It’s a very unique thing, you know…Sometimes I hear some words at my church; sometimes I see things… At different times, it’s the situation or the circumstance where I’m giving someone advice and then I’m like, wow, this is a really good message to put into a song. It depends on the circumstance. And this transition of coming from the Islands and the process to get to the United States and all of those things are hooking up my ideas to the power and greatness of God and it has given me some really powerful messages, as well.
CC: Wow… So, will you be coming to the States to tour?
SG: Yes, I will. But I’ll be in and out because I’ll also be doing a Caribbean tour throughout a lot of the Caribbean islands, each week, a different island… God is opening up a lot of great doors, but I am definitely headed to the United States. So, you’re gonna be hearing some great things soon.
CC: In your bio, you stated that when you first started, you got a lot of push-back because you were doing the Caribbean beat with Gospel music… Do you still feel that push-back or do people now fully embrace your style of worship?
SG: Definitely. Caribbean music has grown tremendously. Other than myself, some really powerful ministers who do strictly Caribbean style music – meaning, soca and reggaeton and stuff like that. I mean, I do everything, but there are some them who just focus in those genres in purpose and are being really well-received in the schools and well-received in the churches as well. So, it’s really balanced now where people accept the music; especially, when we talk about the younger ones, the younger artists that are coming up and we say – because it could be a little bit fast, especially when compared to the American styles of music – is to be very clear with your message. Because the message and the anointing are very different, so if I don’t understand what you’re saying then the only thing I understand is the beat. We have to be sure that our message can be identified; that people can hear that this is about Jesus Christ. They will be able to say that this is about God and that this is different. So, yes, it’s much more accepted throughout… everywhere…
CC: Out of your catalog, so far, what is your favorite song? Is there a song you cannot leave the stage without singing, without ministering?
SG: Um… You’ve just asked me one of the greatest questions of all time… There isn’t really one in particular I could pinpoint… I Worship You is definitely one of my favorites and seems to be one of the favorites of most people. Praises Never Stop, which is on the album, and Greater, as well.
CC: It is so rare today that you can put on an album and you can play from track #1 and – in your case – to track #15 and you don’t have to skip… You can listen to the whole thing through… What do you want the listener to come away with when they have listened to the last track, I’m A Winner?
SG: Well, one of the reasons I wanted to end with I’m a Winner and the album itself being Greater is because it’s about new seasons. I want people to be motivated and to understand that in Christ, even though you look at your situation now and it may seem that this is not gonna work out, if you trust God, you shall win; your season will come. Some people have dreams and goals and they have people speaking into their life that this is not gonna happen for you; but God is faith and you shall live… It may look bad now, but God is gonna change everything.
CC: Wow… Well, sir, I’m done! Thank you so much! I really appreciate it!
SG: God bless you, man.