Although small beginnings is where Sensere may have started, the appropriately titled name for this humble band is certainly far beyond where they are now. A melodic infusion of gospel, R&B, jazz and neo-soul, Sensere is focused on living out God’s vision by taking their music from the church to the world.
The band, started in 2003 by James Wright, began with a small seed, an idea and desire to bring the word of God alive through soulful music. “I wanted to do something exactly like my dad.” said James Wright, founding member of Sensere. Wright’s father, Bishop James Wright is a lifetime musician and pastor at Truth Worship Center in Miami. “My dad sings and plays all kinds of instruments. I knew I wanted to be just like that.”
So God saw fit to take this idea of a large gospel band and expand that beyond Wright’s wildest dreams. “We started with a different group of guys, the band was broken down to just three members, but then God made a shift and took us to a whole nother level, “ said Wright. “The new group, formulated about seven years later is the group you see today.”
Wright said he allowed God to take over and direct the selection of the new band members. Through associations in church, word of mouth and divine intervention, Sensere was born again.
At the time of the band’s rebirth, they were still a band without a name. But it was soon thereafter that Wright felt the Holy Spirit continue to speak to him about the name of the band, Sensere. Not moved at first by the name, it seemed the Lord would not leave him alone about it. “It kept coming to me over and over, and I knew that was it. God was dealing with me about the music being heartfelt. I wanted to take the sin out of “sincere,” that’s how we became known as “Sensere” the band you see today.”
Bringing the message center stage
But Wright knew that he needed help to take Sensere’s vision to the next level, that’s where veteran promoter and former Sony Music Executive Eddie Pugh came in. Wright said that after playing a concert, the band was introduced to Pugh’s daughter, gospel singer Inger Hanna, which proved to be true divine intervention. The connection that night with Hanna led to their introduction to the famed Eddie Pugh, who had worked with such artists as KISS, Mariah Carey and KC and the Sunshine band, just to name a few. The connection was instantaneous and the band got to working with their new business partner. “Eddie knew the business, and we needed someone like that, someone who would help us achieve our vision of bringing our message center stage,” said Wright.
And Eddie respected the vision that Wright had. “I wanted to hear what they wanted to do to make it a reality. You don’t want to come in and take things away from people; you want to grasp what it is and lockstep with them. I listened to the music, and it was totally different. I remember saying, people are going to have to see you to want to embrace you.”
Pugh’s first order of kingdom business was to make the vision global. “I wanted them to think bigger. I told them that what we should do is have a major concert across the country and then the world.”
And it wasn’t long before Sensere landed their first big gig. In 2012, the band played Jazz in the Gardens at Sun Life Stadium to a packed house of thousands. It had been seven years they had been in existence before landing Jazz in the Gardens, but the wait was well worth it. Their soul inspirational music with the gospel message was received with open arms in the midst of a secular venue, and they haven’t looked back ever since. From the 700 club, to BET’s Bobby Jones Live to opening at the Hard Rock Live for Mary Mary in 2013, Sensere has been simply unstoppable.
Honoring God first
As the venues grew larger, Sensere knew that their dependence on God needed to be greater. “We knew we needed to remain humble, and to remember that without God we were nothing,” said band member Brian Williams. “Every time we perform, we must keep in mind that everything comes after we honor God first, and we know He will give us the desires of our heart when we do that.”
The band also recently had the great privilege of being invited to perform in North Carolina for the Houston family at a teen summit called “Silent Suffering”, a tribute to Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Christina. The Houston family heard the band play in Atlanta and wanted them to be a part of the Teen Summit to minister to the crowd. The band never imagined the profound impact their music would have, especially after being invited to participate in such a meaningful and impactful event.
But Christian events are not the only places Sensere has played. They recently were asked to play at the historic Club Village Underground in Manhattan hosted by R&B/Soul and Gospel singer and actress Sheryl Pepsii Riley “This is where the famous people play, they don’t water their music down,” said Wright. “All went well, they supported the music. We were nervous especially playing in front of a New York crowd. We were trying to get the sound together, and they were like Just Sing! Then it flowed from there.”
And there is no shortage of supporters for these gospel artists. Deena McDaniel, founder and producer of Christmas Near the Beach in Hollywood, found the band on Facebook and booked them for her most recent show. “We found that they connected with the audience with more than just their songs,” said McDaniel. “They have a heart to reach out to the heart of the audience. Not only do they put on a phenomenal show, but through their music and life we see their true Christian lifestyle displayed. With this band, you can feel the presence of Christ.”
A new album and award nomination
In the midst of performing across the country, they recently released their hit album in May, “Kingdom Therapy,” which spent eight weeks on Billboard’s Gospel Album Chart. The band also made it to the last round of the Stellar Awards, the premier Gospel event that recognizes and honors African American artists, for group/duo of the year and contemporary group/duo of the year.
“We write and perform for all walks of life that are stuck and just can’t get out. Kingdom therapy, it’s time for the world to get some,” said Wright. “The album speaks of life, love and inspiration. When people listen to it they will get that kind of therapy.”
And moving forward into the future, the heart of the band remains outside the walls of the church to bring people in. “Our hope is that what you hear outside the walls of the church will drive you to the church, “ said Wright. “That is our great vision.”
Melissa ZelnikerPresser is a Jewish believer in Jesus who is chasing her God-sized dream of becoming a full-time writer. She can be contacted at [email protected]