Minneapolis gospel singer Jovonta Patton shares why chart-topping hit ‘Always’ stays with him

Minnesota gospel singer topping the charts

Minnesota gospel singer topping the charts

For gospel singer Jovonta Patton, these are the good days.

“I feel like gospel music, it really brings people together,” the north Minneapolis resident says. “Everything that I was afraid of, I kind of just put it into a song and people started to connect with it.”

That song, “Always,” is now No. 1 on the Billboard gospel charts for the second week in a row, with more than a million streams on platforms like Spotify, Pandora and Amazon.

It’s a song of hope and healing amid the pandemic.

“It came from all the news stories and people saying COVID is going to get worse,” Patton says. “And we’re going into a recession and all these promises that would get bad for Americans and the world.”

Patton recorded the song at Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park.

It’s his sixth No. 1 gospel hit, with his Christian faith at the center of it all.

“When you record music, you never know, right, if it’s going to take off or whether it’s just going to be kind of for you in the moment,” notes Melanie Groves, who sang on “Always.” “I love that he wrote it from a place of vulnerability. I love that he wrote it from such a realness, an authenticity. I think that really helps.”

Growing up in north Minneapolis, that gospel spirit came to Patton early.

He recalls he was singing in church when he was just 4 years old.

But on Dec. 23, the father of three daughters was shopping at Mall of America when it happened: the sound of gunshots.  

“All we hear is ‘pop, pop’ — and I’m from the Northside, so I know a gunshot over a firework sound,” Patton declares.

It was a shooting in the Nordstrom store that left a 19-year-old man dead.

The next day, Patton shared with 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS cell phone video showing him shopping with a friend for his wife Symone — then suddenly hearing those gunshots and diving for cover.

“I’m glad that I’m safe, but it is a moment to always remember, it was a full-fledged shooting during the holiday season,” he recalls. “I just knew that God would protect me always. I just didn’t know how he was going to do it — at the Gucci store and shooting breaks out.”

“It was scary, and I was at home with the girls at nighttime, and this is happening,” Symone adds. “It was disheartening for that to occur, and it’s a joyous time. Like, who is dealing with anger at Christmas?”

Patton and his friend spent an hour and a half sheltering in place in a locked area.

Eventually, they were able to leave the mall unharmed.

But what happened on that Christmas Eve Eve — those moments of fear and faith — remains with Patton in his music, even now.

“I feel like ‘Always’ is my takeaway still, just because that’s the song I can always sing when I think about that moment,” he says. “Because you don’t know other moments you can be in, and I’m still going to be here for God.”

Patton says he has no plans to slow down.

He’s heading to Baltimore on Wednesday for his next gig.

Symone says her husband is tenacious but hasn’t let musical success go to his head.

“This is not the end. He’s the type of person that will not live centered at the top for too long,” she notes. “And I love that about him because he doesn’t get caught up by the limelight or get stuck in that. He’s about the mission and about the ministry behind the music.”

For Patton, now 33, his gospel musical journey has come full circle, and he’s feeling optimistic about the future.

“So, it became something that I naturally took a liking to, and it was never forced upon me. And that’s when you feel the authentic approach in the music,” he says. “So my takeaway is that it’s been hard, but it’s been worth it.”