Entertainment One’s gospel artist Jabari Johnson, who led worship at George Floyd’s official homegoing celebration this month, detailed what his experience was like and expressed his belief that the Church will come out of this stronger than ever.
“I want to see people come together, that’s it,” he told The Christian Post. “The Body of Christ is going to be so strong after this … I can’t wait to see it because there’s going to be a whole new level of love, of respect for one another, no matter the race.”
Johnson was shocked to learn that he’d be singing at the funeral of Floyd, who died in police custody and whose death ignited a movement against racial injustice. Johnson knew he had to lend his gifts to the greater cause.
The musician is currently the lead guitarist at The Potter’s House under the leadership of Bishop T.D. Jakes in Dallas, Texas, but he was invited back to his hometown of Houston to partake in Floyd’s homegoing service. His appearance coincided with the release of his new single, “Fixed Fight,” which shares words of peace and comfort while reminding everyone that they will have victory in God.
The following is an edited transcript of The Christian Post’s interview with Johnson, where he also revealed how he’s taking care of his own mental health.
Christian Post: You recently led worship at the official homegoing celebration for George Floyd. Can you share about being there?
Johnson: I was out here in Dallas protesting and everything, we were out here trying to get justice for George Floyd. My friend, Terence Hoffer, called me and asked me if I wanted to play guitar for the funeral. At first, I didn’t want to do it because I was like, “Man, that’s going to take a toll on my mental health.” But I was like, “I got to do it. I got to do it for George Floyd. We got to send him home the right way. He should still be here.”
So I went there to play guitar. And I think we went through all the songs a little too fast while the family was walking in and then he looked over in the band pit and was like, “Man, we’re about to do ‘He’ll Welcome Me’ so I kept playing.” I was like, I guess he’s going to lead it and then he screamed [for me] to lead the song. Then we went into another song called “God is My Everything.”
It was bittersweet. I really wish I didn’t have to do that. I didn’t want to be the guitarist for the funeral of a black man that was killed by a cop. Not only that we’re still dealing with George Floyd, we’re dealing with a Rayshard Brooks being killed in Atlanta by a cop. Then Breonna Taylor. And I just finished talking to my friend, Billy Dorsey, they found another young man hanging in Houston from a tree and I’m just like, “Man, what has this world come to?” It’s like, “God, just come back now, please.”
There’s so much going on and it’s heartbreaking. I actually had to take a few days, and I’m still doing it now, to just relax, just breathe because that being there, seeing him die on camera in front of the world with the cop’s knee on his neck, it broke my heart. I’ve never felt that way. I’ve seen Trayvon Martin. I’ve seen Sandra Bland killed. But this one really just hit me straight in the chest and I was just like, “Man, it hurt.”
CP: We should all face the reality of what actually is happening but it’s also important people protect their heart from hatred. How do you protect yourself and your mental health?
Johnson: Of course, I’m seeing therapists at the moment, just talking it out, just letting them know how I feel. I’m surrounding myself with my friends. I’m letting them know that I love them all the time. Every chance I get, I promise you we spent almost every day together and they married; I’m the only one in the group not married, but I’ll be over there having fun, playing cards and stuff like that. Right now, I’m really getting to the point where I got to take a break from social media because every time I get on there, every single day, there’s another black man that has been killed.
It’s heartbreaking. It’s very heartbreaking but I know we’re going to get through this and we’re going to come out with the victory, even though I don’t seem like it right now, but time change is definitely coming.
CP: What was the atmosphere of Floyd’s funeral like? You led worship. How was it inviting the presence of God into a moment like that?
Johnson: Anytime I’m in a situation like that, two weeks prior to that I had to go to my first lady’s — from my [Houston] home church, she passed away — I had to go to her funeral. I’m always in the mindset of, I want to give God the glory. At the same time I want to uplift the family because they’re going through enough, they’re sitting here, their family member is stretched across in the casket so I want to be here to uplift a family.
Being there at George Floyd’s funeral, it was sad, it was very sad. The family, you can see it on their face, but everybody was just like, “We’re sad but we want justice.” You can see it in their faces, people were just standing up like, “We are going to get this done, this ends!” I told my best friend, “I’m proud of our generation because we not letting this stuff go.”
CP: Talk about your new single “Fixed Fight,” and the idea and belief of having victory in a situation like racism, that sometimes feels hopeless?
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SOURCE: Christian Post, Jeannie Law