The urban inspirational/gospel genre’s latest shining star Briana “Bri” Babineaux is headlining the second leg of Marquis Boone Enterprises’ “New Artist on the Block” tour. The first leg of the tour launched in March, selling-out all seven cities and earning a major New York Times write-up revolving around Babineaux’s meteoric rise to fame. This three-week extension tour features Geoffrey Golden from BET’s reality show talent competition “Sunday Best” and YouTube singing sensation Kelontae Gavin. The Louisiana native’s debut album Keys To My Heart (Marquis Boone Enterprises, LLC/Tyscot Records, Inc.) debuted at #1 on Billboard magazine’s Top Gospel Albums sales chart in April and features her Top Ten Gospel Airplay hit “I’ll Be The One.” Bri took a few minutes to chat with us about her recent success.
Congratulations on the release of your debut album, Keys To My Heart! How does it feel to have the finished product available for download?
Thank you. It's exciting and scary for me because this is my first project, which is exciting but also scary because I want the response or feedback to be great and I want to hear that this is a solid project and know the audience loved the material. I guess I have a whole ray of emotions, but I'm very excited about the album.
Could you ever have imagined your first record would be #1 on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart? Where were you when you got the exciting news?
No, I never thought in a million years that would [happen], but whenever you keep God #1 you just never know what he's going to blow your mind with. When I received the news I was actually at my cousin's home just waking up; because we had just finished the first leg of the New Artist on the Block tour. I got a text from my manager and he told me congrats on being number one. I think I smiled, told God 'thank you' and went right back to sleep.
Take us back to that day when the album was recorded live at the Doppler Studios in Atlanta, Georgia. What do you remember most about that experience?
The thing that I most remember about the experience was being so nervous that I was gonna mess up at my own recording. Another thing was having my family, friends and fiancé there supporting me.
What an incredible journey it has been for you over the past 16 months. Are there specific milestones that stick out to you? And, how do you keep grounded and centered amidst the growing popularity?
There were many milestones that I had to endure and go through. But the one that I'm gonna talk about was the milestone of me feeling like I was ready to fulfill the task that God has placed in my hands. I keep grounded and centered by staying humble, keeping God first and allowing him to elevate me.
Which track from the album was the first one that you really identified with and said "this has to go on the record?”
The track that I really identified with and said "this has to go on the record" was definitely "My Everything," because I absolutely loved the message that the song had.
Is there a certain track that has special meaning for you personally?
The track that has a special meaning to me would have to be "Jacob's Song," because I wrote that and it came from a place of determination. Because I had been going through so much and I was determined to be just like Jacob was in the bible and I told God I'm not letting go until You bless me. So this song means the world to me because it came from an experience that I went through.
If there is one take away message you hope people grasp after listening to the album, what would it be?
The one thing that I want people to take away from this album is no matter what we might face in life, remember that if we trust and have faith in God, he's going to always be right there to see us through it all .
Who have been your biggest musical influences? And, what artists or bands do you listen to in your free time?
My biggest musical influence is a lady by the name of Krystal Archie. We attend the same church and I've been knowing her since I was a little girl and I've always been inspired by her musically so it would have to be her. I've been listening to a lot of Bethel Music [recently].