Authenticity lies at the heart of the Walls Group’s connection to God and their dedicated fan base, as expressed by the award-winning gospel group.
At the 57th annual Grammy Awards, the group’s song “Love on the Radio” was nominated for Best Gospel Performance/Song. As well as nominations for numerous awards at the 30th Stellar Awards, including Music Video of the Year, Contemporary CD of the Year, Contemporary Group/Duo of the Year, and Artist of the Year.
The Houston-based group started in 2009 and is composed of four siblings: Darrel McGlothen Walls, Rhea Walls, Alic “Paco” Walls, and Ahjah Walls. The group was discovered by gospel hitmaker Kirk Franklin and signed to Warryn Campbell’s label, My Block.
For the Walls Group, being authentic is not a choice but a necessity in their mission to touch people’s lives. Ahjah Walls emphasized the importance of genuine expression.
“For us, authenticity is key. I feel like we can’t get up here on stage and set ourselves to a position of godliness that just is not true for any human being. It’s a continuous walk of sanctification and a daily walk with Christ. I also think it’s being bold about faith and the fact that our struggles go hand and hand with our faith,” Ahjah Walls said during an interview with The Hilltop.
The commitment to being authentic goes beyond the music industry, impacting individuals like Tariah Hyland, a junior political science major from Wilmington, Delaware, who says she wasn’t as open to sharing her faith when she first attended Howard, but as time went on, she started to get bold about her Christianity.
“I think the love outweighs the judgment that I receive. Initially, coming into Howard, I wasn’t as bold about my love for God and didn’t outwardly talk about God as much, like on my social media platforms or anything,” Hyland said. “But recently as my relationship with God has grown, naturally, that started to be reflected more publicly.”
Gospel music once confined to the sanctuaries of churches has found its way into contemporary spaces, seeking to break traditional boundaries and resonate in diverse environments. Beyond the hallowed halls, gospel tunes now echo in arenas, concert venues, and even mainstream festivals, attracting audiences beyond the confines of religious affiliations.
Well-known Howard DJ, Kay-Dee Dimes, a senior graphic design major from Dallas, believes playing gospel music is a universal code for Black people. He says not only does it lighten up the mood, but it’s relatable.
“The average African American grows up Christian, so church and its music is something that we can all relate to. Even if you weren’t heavily into church you still have heard some of the gospel hits,” Dimes said.
Typical songs like “Act Like You Know” by Lashun Pace, “Revolution” by Kirk Franklin, and “Never Would’ve Made It” by Marvin Sapp are a few of many songs that have been turned into remixes.
DJ K. Dimes said his favorite thing to do is mix both the R&B world and the Gospel world.
“I love to do the unexpected and push boundaries like mixing Nicki Minaj and Kirk Franklin or Lashun Pace and Cameo to give that shock factor to my crowds,” he said.
By using contemporary sounds they focus on the themes of love, hope, and the transformative power of faith. The Walls Group captures their audience by offering a unique sound to gospel music.
As the trajectory of Gospel music evolves, Darrel Walls expressed how he is excited about the genre’s future.
“There are a lot of new generation gospel artists coming up right now. In the next five years, I feel like gospel music is going to be revolutionary,” he said. “I use that word because it’s going to be some people knocking some walls down and really tearing down old constructs so that individuals can be seen in a different way.”
While the Walls are still a unit, they are starting to pursue solo careers. In the past few months, Ahjah Walls has been featured on songs with Maverick City Music and the Upper Room. Darrel Walls will be coming out with his new live album next year, which Ahjah Walls will be featured on.
Ahjah Walls urges college students not to be ashamed of their religion.
“The Bible says that the student is not greater than their master. He was persecuted and hated for walking in the spirit of truth, and so if you decide to follow Christ, it’s not just an ‘I am following him because it’s cool and trendy’ because it’s really not. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it,” she said.
The group is wrapping up their 4 Walls Xperience tour in Los Angeles with and is excited about the future. More information on the group and the tour is available on their website.
Copy edited by Alana Matthew