He was reluctant to sing. As a youngster of merely five years of age, Jonathan Caleb McReynolds learned to play drums and piano at eight, Even then, his musical genius was on display during worship services at New Original Church of God in Christ in Chicago. He also learned to play acoustic guitar and organ. But sing, no. It wasn’t until he entered Whitney Young Magnet High School that he began to add his flawless tenor voice to his growing list of mastered instruments. It was only a matter of time before his array of musical gifts would become widely known.
In college, Jonathan’s songwriting and production skills became obvious as he began to record original songs like No Gray in his dorm room. Thanks to a local pastor/DJ who aired some of the songs on his show, Jonathan’s music went viral on social media. His talent caught the attention of BET and made fans of India.Arie and Nicki Minaj. His musical career shifted into a higher gear in September 2012 with the release of his first album Life Music. It reached #3 on the Billboard US Gospel Chart. The two albums that followed, Life Music: Stage Two (2015) and Make Room (2018) peaked at #1.
Beating the Odds
Despite growing up fatherless in what many consider to be the Murder Capital of America, thanks to his Christian faith, a devoted mother and a number of male mentors, Jonathan is thriving. McReynolds said in an interview with CBN: “I had a lot of great male figures that God planted in my life” from his home church. “I was still able to look up to my pastor and some
godfathers and some uncles as that father, together collectively.”
More Than a Musician and Singer
The 30 year old is busy touring, recording and making TV appearances. Still, he finds time for his youth-focused non-profit Elihu Nation. As if that’s not enough, Jonathan also teaches at his alma mater Columbia College Chicago in the music department. According to his website, in 2018 McReynolds was admitted into Mensa, an international society for high IQ individuals and became an honorary member of Alpha Nu Omega, Inc., an international Christian fraternity.
Last year, McReynolds was the top winner at the 34th annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, taking home eight trophies including Artist of the Year, Contemporary Male Artist of the Year, and Song of the Year for Not Lucky off the album Make Room. He will be co-hosting the 2020 Stellar Awards show along with Koryn Hawthorne when they tape the 35th annual awards show in Las Vegas on March 27th.
The great music keeps coming. He is known for writing songs that deal with everyday life issues and his latest single continues that trend. Jonathan McReynolds’ People is the Special Feature Song on this week’s edition of Hot Gospel 20, the countdown of the 20 most played songs on US Gospel Radio stations. Listen now.