Jamaican gospel singer John Lucas says his most recent album expresses his gratitude to Japan, the country he has come to view as his second home.
The 36-year-old singer, who gained attention after performing on TV in 2013, released “God is Good!” in May to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his arrival in Japan.
“Japan is my second home country,” Lucas says. “I produced the album because I wanted to return the favors I got from Japan.”
The 15-track “God is Good!” is Lucas’ second full-length. He debuted with the single “My Song For You” in 2008 before putting out his first album, “Surrender,” in 2010.
Lucas performs a lot in the northeast Tohoku region, the area hit by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011, and holds charity concerts across Japan.
“Gospel has the power to cure our hearts,” he says, adding that the music has always been a part of his life. Back in Jamaica, his father is a priest and his mother plays piano at her church. “Gospel constitutes my DNA.”
After graduating from university, Lucas initially planned to work in the music or media industry in New York. But he changed his mind and decided to move to Japan instead at the recommendation of his mentor.
Lucas started teaching English in Sendai as part of The Japan Exchange and Teaching (JET) Programme in 2000. After wrapping up his stint on JET, he started teaching gospel classes in Sendai as well as in Ishinomaki, a coastal city in the northeast of Miyagi Prefecture that was hard hit by the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.
When the disaster hit, it destroyed Lucas’ home forcing him to sleep in a car for four nights. It was a devastating experience and, for the first time ever, he says, “Gospel completely vanished from my life.”
Lucas sought shelter in Hakodate, Hokkaido, and began processing his feelings by writing them down. He used these notes to create songs and was eventually able to start singing again.
Lucas currently teaches gospel to a total of 200 students at eight locations across Japan including in Hokkaido, Tokyo and Kyoto.
He says he is always happy when he meets his students, whom he calls his “family,” and likes to see how singing puts a smile on their faces.
“My family’s smiles give me the energy to keep on going,” he says.
Some of his students even joined him in singing four of the 15 songs on “God is Good!”
“Support from all these people made me who I am today,” Lucas says. “I hope to promote this Japan-produced gospel around the world.”
John Lucas plays the Sendai Gospel Festival pre-concert at Tokyo Electron Hall Miyagi in Sendai on Sept. 19 (3 p.m. start; ¥1,200 in advance; 022-225-8641); at Wesleyan Holiness Yodobachi in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo, on Sept. 26 (2 p.m.; ¥2,500 for adults in adv.; 03-3368-9165); and Esaka Hall in Suita-shi, Osaka, on Oct. 10 (6 p.m.; ¥2,500 in adv.; 06-6155-8812). For more information, visit www.jl-music.com.
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