NEW YORK – The award-winning singer Nhojj has released a music video of “Amazing Grace,” using the traditional Christian hymn to uplift and inspire gays and lesbian who are fighting for marriage equality.
The Guyanese alternative soul singer, who is openly gay, said he will be celebrating Easter this year with his new interpretation of the gospel classic, which was written in 1779.
Countless singers have offered their own interpretation of this American classic, including Mahalia Jackson, Willie Nelson, Elvis Presley, Judy Collins, Aretha Franklin, Rod Stewart and Johnny Cash. It has inspired hope in times of tragedy, uplifted African-Americans during the era of slavery, rallied anti-war protesters during the Vietnam War, and encouraged countless individuals dealing with issues of alcoholism, drug addiction, illness and death.
Nhojj expands the innate power of the song to affirm the LGBT community and support marriage equality. On top of that, it shows an interracial couple getting married and living together in a life of love and respect.
Filmed in the historic St. Mark's Church, one of the oldest churches in New York City, this is the first time a well-known Christian hymn has been used in a music video to express the "rightness and godliness" of same gender love-- portraying a male interracial couple exchanging marriage vows and living in a loving committed relationship.
"It's a love story," Nhojj said. "There's a beauty in love. And I hope that beauty is conveyed in this video."
This is the second time the award-winning artist has advanced the cause of gay rights with a music video. A year ago he released his original composition "Love," depicting two young men falling in love. The video made gay music history remarkably hitting the coveted No. 1 spot on the MTV Music video chart. BET's Centric TV Soul Sessions publicly congratulated Nhojj for being “a Black history and a gay history first!”
While many gay themes exist in film and literature, sadly, very few exist in popular music. Even though many music artists like Elton John, Adam Lambert, Ricky Martin and Clay Aiken have come out of the closet, few have produced same gender loving music or videos.
"I believe it is important to take a look at society and to see ourselves mirrored across all media," Nhojj said. "We need to feel a part of a greater community, and seeing and hearing our lives through music is an vital part of this equation."
Son of a church minister, Nhojj grew up in Guyana and began singing at the age of 5. In 2005 he released "John Martinborough Coming Home" – interpretations of traditional Christian hymns, which includes this version of "Amazing Grace." Nhojj has incorporated lyrics from “Amazing Grace” in two of his original songs - "Lost/Found" from his award-winning 2003 CD "Someday Peace Love & Freedom," and "Things Will Get Better," the 2010 single, released in response to gay suicides due to bullying and abuse.
Nhojj continues his commitment to affirm and uplift LGBT peoples. His Valentine's Day release "He & Him" explores ambient sounds and soulful grooves to create the effect of one awakening from sleep and seeing a vision - his lover's body, "strong and beautiful." It tells a simple story. The lyric refrain is "He loves him."
“Love is the most fundamental of all human conditions and the most important.” Nhojj said. “We all deserve to love and be loved.”