Christian Pace, known as Big Chris the Evangelist, is making a name for himself in the Christian rap industry. (Special Photo)
Even his name proved to be prophetic. Christian Pace was just a young man of 15 sitting quietly in the back of the church when a prophetess, who was doing ministry that day, started walking toward him during the service prophesying aloud about him.
“My parents had brought me there,” he said. “…She walked over to me and started prophesying that God had given me the abilities to produce music and He was going to give me the songs now and give me a new song.
“It hit me like a ton of bricks. I wasn’t expecting it. As time has gone on, it is obviously happening. I’m starting to see the fruits of it now and to see what God is speaking to me.”
Now 23, Pace is known as Big Chris the Evangelist and is indeed a music producer, having debuted his first CD, “The Prophesy” at a local release party at Utopian Barber Shop in Covington last month.
“I’m a brand new artist,” he said. “Not many people know about me yet.”
A 2008 graduate of Newton High School, Pace grew up in Dunwoody before moving with his family to Covington when he was in fifth grade. He went to Clements Middle School and graduated from Newton with a college-prep diploma.
Pace attended the Art Institute of Atlanta then transferred to Piedmont College, where he recently received a degree in criminal justice. He is now interviewing to land a job in his field.
Through the years, Pace has won awards for his music, including the Spirit of Hip Hop local competition in 2007 and placed second in the Battle of the Bands at St. Pius Catholic Church in Conyers (2009).
As a former choir member who grew up singing the traditional gospel music of the church, Pace has found a new song, just as the prophetess told him that day, but he said this new song is not always what one might find in the church. Pace is a rap singer.
“The No. 1 thing is that it’s rap music with a spiritual vibe to it,” he said.
“That’s how I would describe it. Basically, I just want to see lives changed by the music. I don’t want them to just pay attention to the excitement of it being rap or hip-hop, but what is being said. It’s coming from God, a message from God.”
Pace said many churches do not go in for rap music, but he hopes to change that thinking.
“Churches are not embracing rap,” he said. “A lot of the time we’re talking about tradition and things being done a certain way over time. That’s not going to work with this generation.
“We’re in the age now where television and so many things now — MTV and (other networks) — are so visual and have a bigger influence on them Monday through Friday than church that one day. They’re getting a large dose of the world and a small dose of church on Sunday. What you get more of is probably going to influence you as time goes on.”
Pace credits his parents, James and Zena Taylor of Covington, with exposing him to the Word and to gospel music growing up.
“Just having those influences and then being exposed to hip hop as well, it all kind of came together and I was able to see how it all fits,” he said.
“… I was blessed to have parents who taught me the Word and the importance of spiritual things since I was a young child. I grew up being taught about spiritual things so that helped me to grow into my life now. It taught me how to carry myself and conduct myself in life and the way I see life.”
Now a member of Springfield Baptist Church, Pace grew up going to Life Center Ministries in Dunwoody where he began producing music while still in his teens.
After he produced his first song, “Ain’t Nobody Stopping Me,” Pace said he knew that was the direction God had planned for him.
“My spiritual walk also began to grow,” he said. “I had more of a thirst for the Word at that time and wanted to know and grow spiritually. That’s when my music began to change and where it wasn’t me doing it at that time, but God was pouring it into me.”
As he has grown, so has his music and his desire to reach young people with the truth of the Gospel.
“For the youth nowadays, there is just so much negative influence that is being perpetuated through the media, the radio,” he said.
“Obviously, the majority of stations’ music is not gospel or music that glorifies God or acknowledges anything to do with God. As a result of that, basically what we’re dealing with is a generation of people who are very much lost and trying to find their way. They’re being in a dark way and it’s very dark. There’s no way to see unless somebody brings the light. We’re dealing with a very lost culture and lost generation.”
Pace is hoping to share his message in music with everyone who will listen, but said his rap style is different from what many churches have been used to in the past.
“There’s not too much out there for an artist like me,” he said.
“(For those who) accept gospel rap or rap music that has a spiritual essence to it, there’s not too much out there. It’s difficult to find places to showcase that talent. We’ve got a lot of churches not really accepting of the new sound, although the Bible says to ‘sing unto Him a new song.’”
Some of the songs recorded by Big Chris the Evangelist include “Which Line?,” “He’s the King” and “Holy Ghost Gat.”
To find out more about Pace’s latest work, “The Prophesy,” go to his website at www.bigchristheevangelist.tmgartist.com.
Beth Slaughter Sexton is a freelance writer based in Gwinnett County. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.