John Tillery & Living Sacrifice
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John Tillery & Living Sacrifice

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The best kept secret in music


"John Tillery & Living Sacrifice"

John Tillery and Living Sacrifice
Romans 12:1

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, [which is] your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1

The DC-based 12-member choir gets top marks for Romans 12:1. on the JackieBoy Entertainment label. Taking their name from the verse in Romans that they also use to title their most recent project, John Tillery and Living Sacrifice bring their choir-based urban praise into sharp focus.

Tillery handles several of the leads on the 12-track project, his Gospel pipes bringing a pleasing vibe to the table. But there’s a strong cast of others who also make the mark.

And you’ll be the sorry one if you let the small label disguise fool you into thinking there’s no urban prize. Tillery not only delivers a hefty dose of street vibe on cuts such as “Get On Up” and “Holy Ghost Party” (with the help of Voices II Voices), he also has a knack for writing sweet grooves.

On that tip, “Never Gonna Give Up” takes the biggest bow, instantly catching the ear with its softly insistent vocal hook. “Make A Joyful Noise” is another winner, with just the right blend of choir and solo lead (from Lashawn Tillery) to gel the composition into memory lock.

“For You’ve Done Great Things” is a two-part song written by another local favorite, Sam Kendricks (see album review). With a kick-back tempo and sustained choir parts, the approachable song structure invites you to sing in solidarity with their praise, even after the first minute.

In fact, the unspoken but easy invitation to join your praise with Living Sacrifice is the hallmark of this understated project. Any composer will tell you that this is not an easy thing to do. The fact that is does speaks to the quality of songwriting on the album.

Producer: John Tillery, Isaiah Thomas, Antone' Caldwell
album release date: early 2000
EMI Gospel

— reviewed by Stan North — -

"John Tillery & Living Sacrifice - Romans 12:1"

December 30, 2002
As the timeless Top 40 hit from the sixties says, "To everything turn-turn-turn, there is a season…" (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Normally, it would be understood when a recording artist spends a few years in between projects, and people would wonder where are they now. For John Tillery, it made absolutely no difference when God's plan and timing are at the forefront. The backpedaling worked wonders as the sophomore CD, "Romans 12:1" comes to light. Between "God Is Still On The Throne" from 1994, and "Romans 12:1", Tillery believed God had not yet opened the door for the blessings to come, despite some original material being ready and willing to go. John Tillery grew up with music ministry seeds as he watched his mother sing with DC regional group BL&S Singers. There are plenty of gifts on Tillery's plate, including the very powerful tool of musical theater. From "Mama I'm Sorry", to the upcoming "Sun Up, To Sun Down", it's an advantage for the unsaved and fallen-away persons to witness comedy and drama wrapped around God's great news. Tillery & Living Sacrifice has also recently toured with Minister Keith Pringle & Twinkie Clark, plus a humongous list of gospelteers from Tremaine (Hawkins) to John P. (Kee).

Countless songs have been inspired from the September 11th 2001 events. The opener, "God Bless The USA", pushes past just hearing about the blessings. It's an admonishment to believers for stepping out and sharing the spiritual wealth to those who don't know. The song is surrounded with heavy-duty beats and crackling bass guitar.

The passionate but steady voices of Living Sacrifice chide us to "Make A Joyful Noise". Our attitude in relating to God: "Serve the Lord with gladness" (Psalm 100:2 KJV), helps lift that praise. As the song's pace picks up, Tillery sites more reasons for gratitude, including His waking us up every morning.

"Living Sacrifice" continues on the subject of serving as defined in Romans 12:1 KJV: "I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service."

The safest place to be is in God's will. In "I'd Rather", when we leave the problems behind, it's easier to enter into His presence. Listen for the dynamic interplay between John Tillery and Shontae Moore.

'Hang On' is the running hook on "Keep Running". 1 Corinthians 9 breaks down the ultimate prize of eternal life we obtain for maintaining the race of walking and running with the Lord.

When we enter that race, we know that "Jesus Paid It All" will set us free from sin and doubt. The soprano section echoes with vigor the wonderful sentiment during the song's breakdown.

You're now invited to the "Holy Ghost Party". Joining in the fat funk jam are Voices II Voices, a collective of numerous groups and choirs. Here are the party's ingredients: "The roof is on fire, we don't need no water, let the Holy Ghost burn." Besides the praises to Him, shout-outs are directed to the Washington DC area (Tillery's hometown), BET (Black Entertainment Television), and the millennium.

Through dark clouds and all, "God Is Still On The Throne". As the no-holds barred vocals of Lois Tillery-Moore ring, the spirit of God supersedes any opposition we may have, including those doctors who gave up on you.

Additional encouragement is passed on to believers in "Never Gonna Give Up". The road won't be easy in many circumstances, but when the trust is placed, the results are positive.

The message is short and sweet. "He bled and died for you and I." That's the thrust of "Wounded".

"For your glory I dedicate my life". Those are the sweeping words in "I Wanna Be Yours."

All selections were composed by Tillery. Living Sacrifice's sound is contemporary, yet leans less on studio trickery and more on insightful and precious vocals. Each lead vocalist who duets with John Tillery or solos, have different tones for a refreshing variety. Backing musicians including co-producers Jay Williams, Antone Caldwell and Isaiah Thomas, enhance the "live sound", which was recorded at Faith Bible Church in Washington DC. Romans 12:1 evolved in 1996, but thankfully Tillery was willing to follow God to bring this to fruition in 2002. Thus, the sacrifices paid off in gospel dividends.


"John Tillery In A Movie"

August 05, 2003
Danbla Records recording artist, John Tillery is featured in the new movie "Guilty By Association" starring Morgan Freeman and distributed by Artisan Films. The death of an innocent child forces Lt. Redding (Morgan Freeman) to take matters in his own hands by waging a war against the gangs of downtown Washington, DC.

John Tillery, who released his latest cd "Romans 12:1" last year with his group Living Sacrifice on Danbla Records has been climbing charts across the country.

This film was produced by DarkCity Records and features several prominent rappers as well and gospel artist William Becton. This is a straight to video release and can be picked up at your local Blockbuster Video or local video chain.


"John Tillery"

December 04, 2002
There is something special to be said about Minister John Tillery, the professional singer, songwriter and music minister from the nation’s capital. His talent was honed under the watchful eye of his recording mother and developed among the enormous pool found in Washington, D.C. But like so many of God’s gifted children, John had to wait a moment and keep silent for many years before resurfacing and sharing his anointed gift with gospel fans found everywhere.

Because of obedience, patience and long-suffering John personally underwent, Minister Tillery delayed his second album release and subjected his ministry – Living Sacrifice – to the word of God. By heeding to the apostle Paul’s admonition in Romans 12:1, John sought to present himself as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable unto God rather than just to man. The result is a fervent ministry headed by John Tillery and blessed by God. Here’s a little testimony on a music ministry that’s destined to stand tall when all else might fail.

Christopher Heron: Romans 12:1 is your sophomore project. True gospel fans will recall your 1994 release, God Is Still On The Throne. With your newest project, Romans 12:1, what are you hoping to achieve? What would you like to see your sophomore album do for your ministry?

John Tillery: With this project I want to establish myself even further and take my music ministry abroad. I’d like to do things that the first project was unable to do. I’m looking forward to going overseas with this project, establishing myself more as a songwriter. I wrote all the material and produced this project as well.

CH: You have a contemporary flavor to your sound. Who have been some of your mentors and influences over the years that have contributed to your sound?

JT: Well my greatest influence is my mother. If you remember the BL&S Singers from Washington D.C., that was my mom in the group. Just watching her ministry, traveling with them seeing them minister has helped ground me. Growing up in a church that had traditional and contemporary music was great for me.

CH: You’ve also recently found greater visibility touring with legend Twinkie Clark. You've become involved with ministries, like gospel theatre. Tell us how that has also helped build your ministry.

JT: It’s been great being able to travel and minister in that medium. Being with other artists as well and having the opportunity to be on stage is wonderful. A lot of the audience that comes to gospel theatre aren’t your regular churchgoers. There are lots of unsaved people that go to the gospel theatre so it’s great to minister there.

CH: Give me a sense of what it is like to perform before a crowd in gospel theatre as opposed to ministering in church?

JT: You know there is comedy in the theatre, in shows I’ve done. I have a whole lot more fun because I have the opportunity to make a lot of people laugh. Then you have some people who are crying, some that are rejoicing, so it’s an emotional roller coaster. Yet, he message is still powerful, even like when I’m doing a concert.

CH: Now tell us a little bit about this project, Romans 12:1. The labor and the prayers that went into it, the release of this project and, finally, the name Romans 12:1. What were the inspirations?

JT: The project actually started in 1996. We started a live recording and went through some personal issues that God had to deal with me on. We all learn in ministry that we all have seasons. I thought it was my season to do this project in 1996 but God had to show me it wasn’t my time yet. We were in the studio, we did some new songs and I still thought it was my season but God was telling me 'not yet.' It wasn’t until about a year and a half ago when God opened the door for this project to finally be released. This is what it is all about; being willing to move when God says to move.

CH: That’s extraordinary patience; maybe that’s a lesson a lot of independent artists today could learn from. There is always a time and a season for things. How did you know you had to be patient and wait on God’s word?

JT: Well I knew because things weren’t working out the way they should, so if God doesn’t open the door, the door won’t be opened because it’s not my season. When God finally opens the door, things are going to happen and blessings are going to come forth when it’s my season but you’re not always going to have room to be able to receive them. That’s exactly what happened when I was waiting for this project to come out. Things just started happening; I just had to learn to wait on God until it was the right moment.

CH: So now with the project out and available in stores across the nation, what would you like to leave our visitors with so that they know this is a project that not only ministers to their hearts but is an inspiration, of sorts, through the music and words?

JT: It’s a CD that has nothing but words of encouragement. We want to encourage the world because we are going through a lot at this present time. Although we started this project in 1996, the word is for today: don’t give up, hold on my brother, God is still on the throne. All these songs are to encourage and strengthen the believer because God is able to do the impossible - if you don’t give up and allow God do what He has to do.

CH: You raised an excellent point with your track one God Bless the USA. How did the events and the turmoil of September 11th affect you and your music ministry? Coming out of the D.C. area, where were you on that day and how did that play upon your spirit?

JT: I’m also a schoolteacher and when it all happened, I was with the children. I had to stay at the school until all the parents were notified. I watched how the children and the staff were dealing with this crisis and I was like, "Wow!! If they only knew God…" We need to get out there and do what we are supposed to do. The Word says, If my people who are called by My name will humble themselves and pray and turn from their wicked ways, then He will hear from Heaven and heal our land. So believers, we can’t wait on the President and Congress to act on our behalf; it's up to us. That’s why I say God Bless the USA. God has been faithful to us and blessed us - it’s time for us to turn it back over to You, Lord. That’s where the song came from; it’s time for believers to step up to the plate.



1994 - "God Is Still On The Throne"
Recorded at Columbia Union College, Takoma Park, MD. Released by Vectron Music Group and distributed by IAM Distribution. The title cut "God Is Still On The Throne" received national airplay and helped establish as an artist.

2002 - Romans 12:1
Debut release on Danbla Records. The hit songs on this CD are "Living Sacrifice", "I'd Rather" which recently charted at No. 65 on the 2005 Ensound Top 100. Romans 12:1 charted to No. 1 on the Gospel USA magazine's top independent releases. The song "God Bless The U.S.A." is a standard across radio each year during Independence holiday celebration.

2005 - "Transformation"
The sophomore release is climbing the chartts across the country. Nationally distributed by Comin' Atcha Distribution which carries the music of The Boys Choir of Harlem, Dr. Ed Montgomery, Witness, Freda Battle & The Temple Worshippers and the legendary Michael Brooks of the famed group Commissioned.


Feeling a bit camera shy


There's a fresh anointing falling on the ministry of John Tillery & Living Sacrifice. This group of young people from the nation's capital city, Washington, DC has a musical style that ushers the listeners into the presence of God.

John Tillery & Living Sacrifice has worked with a list of who's who in gospel music: Albertina Walker, Richard Smallwood, Ron Winans, Keith Pringle, Twinkie Clark, Martha Walsh, Rev. Milton Bigham, Kayla Parker, Kimberly McFarland and the list goes on and on.

Sharing the same stage with such artists as John P. Kee and New Life, Hezekiah Walker & LFCC, Tramaine Hawkins, The Richard Smallwood Singers, Yolanda Adams, The Pace Sisters, Mississippi Mass Choir, James Moore, Darryl Coley, Vickie Winans, Bobby Jones, Shirley Ceasar, Whitley Phipps, The Williams Brothers, Wilmington Chester Mass Choir and many others has afforded them the opportunity to be exposed and gain a wide spectrum of supporters throughout the country.

Their first cd entitled "God Is Still On The Throne" was released in 1994 on the Vectron Records label out of New York. Their second release was "Romans 12:1" in 2002 on Danbla Records label out of New Jersey and this release has charted throughout the country and has earned them the #1 spot on Gospel USA Magazine's "Top 30 Independent Artist Releases". The group was also featured in Gospelflava's end of the year review in 2000.

The newest release "Transformation" was released in September 2005 and is now distributed nationally by Comin' Atcha Distribution.