Darwin Hobbs

Powerhouse gospel singer Darwin Hobbs emerged in the mid-'90s as one of Nashville's most in-demand session vocalists and arrangers. The youngest of six siblings, the Cincinnati native found his voice early, singing every week in the church choir from the age of ten and showing an innate gift for expression. Once he'd made the move to Nashville, the sessions began piling up, and before long he'd appeared on records by CeCe Winans, Michael W. Smith, Jars of Clay, and a host of other prominent acts both gospel and secular. A connection with industry vet Charlie Peacock led to a deal with EMI Gospel, which released his solo debut, Mercy, in 1999. His rich, soulful voice earned comparisons to icons like Freddie Jackson, Lou Rawls, and most of all, Luther Vandross. His follow-up LP, 2000's Vertical, featured duets with Donna Summer and Michael McDonald and made a strong entry on Billboard's gospel chart. The following year, Hobbs made his debut as an actor with a small role in HBO's original movie Boycott. His third LP for EMI, Broken, arrived in 2003 and proved to be his biggest chart success yet, rising to number three on Billboard's gospel chart. Worshipper, the fourth and final album of his EMI contract, arrived in 2005, again reaching the Top Ten on the gospel chart. A 2007 greatest-hits anthology preceded his next release, Free, a particularly personal album on which he confronted a childhood of sexual abuse he'd suffered at the hands of his stepfather. Freed from the turmoil of this lifelong secret, Hobbs carried on with a new spring in his step, releasing the 2010 live album Champion, which reached number six on the gospel chart. All the while, he continued to collaborate with other artists and share his voice and passion as a session singer. ~ Timothy Monger

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