chad higginsChad Higgins & In Spirit and In Truth
Chad Higgins of Winchester is one busy man. A full-time elementary education student at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond and worship director at New Mount Zion Baptist Church in Shelbyville, he also is the leader of the gospel group Chad Higgins & In Spirit and In Truth.
Higgins insists his schedule isn’t overwhelming. “That sounds like a lot, but the way our schedule is as a [gospel] group, we have our really busy times and our really slow times,” he says. “It always pans out.” The group performs across the country, and Higgins understands why sometimes group members may grumble about their weekend schedules. “We get back at 2 a.m. and have to be at work the next morning at 7 a.m., but we know the sacrifices.” Like his musical cohorts, Higgins says, “I love what I do. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”
Chad Higgins & In Spirit and In Truth has a following in the Bluegrass region of the state. The group of nine singers performs both traditional and contemporary gospel songs, although lately the contemporary songs have taken precedence. Higgins says the group’s sound has shifted more toward the Kirk Franklin style of gospel music. Fans of Israel Houghton and Chris Tomlin should feel right at home with In Spirit and In Truth. “The music has gone with the flow and that’s like in any genre,” says Higgins.
The group released its first CD, He Is Who He Is, in 2008 and its second, Predestined, in August 2011. Predestined has a slightly different approach. “The first was geared more toward church; this one not as much,” says Higgins. “It’s more contemporary and more a praise and worship style.” The group’s music is available on iTunes and at its website, Chadhigginsisit.com.
Ron Jones, a national gospel music and gospel radio consultant based in Louisville, thinks Chad Higgins and his singers have a chance of making it big nationally. They are currently nominated for six Rhythm of Gospel Awards. While the Stellar Awards are a bit like gospel music’s version of the Grammys, the Rhythm of Gospel Awards are aimed at independent acts, those not signed to national labels—according to Higgins.
“Our short-term goal for right now is getting exposure and getting radio airplay,” he says. “We want people to hear us. Being an independent act means we don’t have a major label’s budget to promote us. We have to do everything on our own.” That means more concerts and more tours. “We’re looking to expand outside our region, within a 300-mile radius of Louisville/Lexington/Cincinnati and work our way out,” Higgins says. The group has been well-received in other cities, having performed in Washington, D.C., Chicago, Milwaukee, Atlanta, Philadelphia, St. Louis and Jacksonville, Fla. “We look forward to the chance to get to travel,” Higgins says, also noting he is grateful for the support of local fans but that “they are used to us now,” whereas when the group performs out of state, “we’re new to them,” which often translates to more product sales.
While Higgins embraces gospel music, he listens to all genres, from jazz to classical. One of his favorite songs is Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody,” and as the father of a 14-year-old son, Higgins is now listening to a lot more dub step than he ever imagined he would. Higgins believes listening to a variety of genres affects his style in a good way. “If all I listened to is gospel, I think my music would begin to sound the same.”
Higgins hopes his group continues to do well and gain more fans, but he knows he is serving a different sort of purpose. He says at every show the group sings “All Is Well.” He understands there are people in the audience “who are losing their jobs, having houses foreclosed or losing insurance. There are a lot of hurting people out there.” He hopes the song’s lyrics can help people: “No matter what my eyes may see/I know His grace is covering me/All is well.”
Higgins says he came home recently to a rather long and unexpected message on his voice mail. A fan in Chicago had tracked down his number and wanted to let him know his song “God Is Able” had given her hope during a recent difficult time. Higgins saved the message and played it for the group during a rehearsal. “There wasn’t a dry eye in there,” he says. “We’re not out to sell CDs or make money. That’s not why we do what we do.”