From Jail to Joy: Maverick City Music’s Grammy Success

By: Mike Crooks

After their debut win last year, American gospel group Maverick City Music scored four gongs at the 65th Grammy Awards on Sunday Night in Los Angeles.

The popular group, which formed in 2018 in Atlanta, Georgia, released two albums in 2022, including the album Breathe which won a Grammy for Best Contemporary Christian Music Album.

“We did this album in the middle of the pandemic, when it was so hard for many people to breath and to just catch their breath,” singer-songwriter Chandler Moore said while accepting the award.

“God gave us this album… just encouraging people [to] take that breath.”

The group also won for Best Gospel Performance/Song (Kingdom), Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song (Fear Is Not My Future), and the Best Gospel Album – Kingdom Book One.

Jailhouse flock

Made in collaboration with singer-songwriter Kirk Franklin, Kingdom Book One was recorded live in the Florida prison Everglades Correctional Institution and includes the voices of 1300 prisoners.

Kingdom was aimed at bringing awareness to mass incarceration. (The mother of Maverick co-founder Tony Brown was incarcerated during his childhood.)

“Walking past these brothers who were singing my songs on the way to the performance was really, really humbling,” Franklin told Rolling Stone magazine last year.

“To hear the hope and freedom in their voices even though they were in situations that are extremely challenging… that’s why we do what we do, and that’s what the music is for.”

Added Stephanie Valcarcel, president of Maverick’s label, TRIBL Records: “It was a deep labour of love and collaboration, with the goal to bring forward a unifying Kingdom that represent all individuals.”

Maverick singer Naomi Raine said that it was the band’s “desire and passion” to visit inmates in prisons. “And just minister and work with residents there and bring the love, joy and worship of Jesus Christ into those spaces,” she said.

“It’s so important to us that they know we love them.”

“It’s so important to us that [prisoners] know we love them,” – Naomi Raine, Maverick City Music singer

A band for everyone

The band’s subsequent Kingdom Tour in 2022 played to sold-out arenas across the US. (The band has not yet revealed plans to tour beyond America.)

“For us, creating music and spaces where people can bring their full self and be celebrated is really special,” said Maverick’s co-founder Jonathan Jay.

Previous success

Last year, the group became the first Christian or Gospel artist to perform at the Grammys in 20 years.

They followed that up with their first Grammy win (Best Contemporary Christian Music Album) for Old Church Basement, which was recorded in collaboration with Elevation Worship.

“This group was created for those who were marginalised, unheard and rejected in this space, to be heard and have a space,” the group said in their acceptance speech.

“All of us, on this stage represent that.”

“Incredibly honoured”

The band’s members were ecstatic about their multiple wins at the 65th Grammys, held at Los Angeles’ Crypto.com Arena (formerly the Staples Arena).

They thanked their fans and the gospel music community.

“We are incredibly honoured and grateful to our Father for using us in this space and to you for always supporting us,” said the band in an Instagram post on February 5.

“This is only the beginning.”


Article supplied with thanks to Hope Media.

Feature image: Maverick City Music perform in prison. Source: MCM social media. 

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