When Brian Courtney Wilson first moved to Houston, he served at a church there and met a man he really admired named Hank Mill. Mr Mill has since passed away, but Wilson saw the way he was able to integrate what he was doing in music ministry into the everyday lives of people at the church.
“I saw where the music that we were doing mattered,” he says, “Not just on Sunday, but mattered every day for everyone.
“That was the first time I saw people up close who made careers in gospel and ministry, so that planted the seed for me,” he says, “I thought, ‘I want to walk that path.’”
Now, Brian Courtney Wilson is a well-known Grammy-nominated gospel and contemporary Christian singer who is inspiring people himself.
And that connection with people is one of Wilson’s favorite parts of the job he has.
“It’s the stories I get from people,” he says, “One lady came up to me with tears in her eyes and her husband was really sick. She was thinking about leaving him. But when she heard “Worth Fighting For.” she changed her mind. Other times, people in school have told me they heard the song and kept going because of it.”
Wilson grew up on artists like Marvin Winans and the Winans family.
“We didn’t play gospel music all the time where I grew up, it was a Sunday ritual, so I took that for granted,” he says, “But the Winans brothers and The Clark Sisters, those sounds, the anticipation I felt throughout the week was huge. Hearing it felt like a warm blanket.”
And he hopes that his music can be a comfort to listeners as well.
“Even in the music now, I pray that when people hear it, it feels good to them beyond just the topic,” he says, “Then you can decide if you believe it, but first I want you to decide if it feels good to you.”
In his downtime, Wilson listens to storytellers like John Mayer, classics like Stevie Wonder and classics like Donny Hathaway.
“He was a big influence on me,” he says, “In college, a girl I had a crush on told me I sounded like him. Then I found him and it resonated with me. He wasn’t doing gospel, but the way his voice sounded was divine to me.”
Wilson is one of many inspiring artists on the McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour and a show like this allows him to connect with his audience.
Some of the most popular songs he performs are “Just Love,” a song about the church being a place you can always come back to if you lose your way, because it’s a constant support for people and it makes them feel great. He also loves singing “It will be alright.”
“I liken that song to how you should feel on a Monday morning,” he says, “It can be hard to get going, but when you listen, you believe it will be alright.”
And beyond the performances, Wilson loves getting to connect to his fans.
“I love when we finish and we’re sitting at the table, greeting people and seeing in their faces how grateful they are that we’re there,” he says. We’re with some great artists, and everyone here has this great vibe and have made it easy to do what we’re doing. I love that part of it. The team we’re working with have been very professional.”
But when he’s not singing and performing for fans, Wilson loves basketball.
“I try to play two times a week,” he says, “That’s probably my biggest thing, but I also love TV dramas when I have time. I just binged House of Cards, but it was kind of depressing with everything going on in the world. But a favorite of mine is Breaking Bad. I like detail oriented dramas.”
And despite his busy schedule, Wilson makes sure to make time for unwinding and spending time with friends and family.
“When you’re home, make sure you’re present,” he says, “Make being home about them. Reinforce how much you love the people who love you.”
For anyone hoping to follow in Wilson’s footsteps, he has two words for you — “Don’t quit,” he says, “There will be days when people discount and ignore your efforts. Keep going long enough to bring something valuable to the table.”
Get out to the McDonald’s Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour to spend time with Brian and the other wonderful artists in the lineup! You won’t regret it.
Did we mention the tickets are free and available online? Just go here and click on the tour stop closest to you.
This post is brought to you in collaboration with McDonald's 365Black.