Profile: Koryn Hawthorne

Gospel singer Koryn Hawthorne is breaking down doors and cementing her place on America’s soundtrack. At 2o years old, the singer has already had the longest reign on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart by a woman for “Won’t He Do It” with 35 weeks in the number one spot. The track breaks Tamala Mann’s “Take Me to the King” record which crowned the chart for 25 weeks in 2012-2013.

Koryn grew up singing  in her family’s church in Louisiana, but her first public appearance was in a talent showcase in Las Vegas where she won top honors in her category. Influenced by the likes of musical giants Tina Turner, Etta James, Mary J. Blige, Michael Jackson, and gospel greats like Fred Hammond, Mary Mary, and Kirk Franklin, helped hone her musical resume. By age 11, she was auditioning for singing competitions such as America’s Got Talent, X Factor, and American Idol. During her time on American Idol, she was sent home early for sticking with the gospel genre that was in her heart. That experience eventually gave her the push she needed to try out for The Voice for its Season 8 competition. As fate would have it, Hawthorne made it to the finals of The Voice as part of super producer Pharrell Williams team. On her website, she explains, “The first thing Pharrell said to me is, ‘We’ve GOT to do gospel,’ which was incredible! So, the first chance we got, I did ‘How Great Thou Art.’” She adds that doing the show helped to shape her vision of her artistry. “For me, The Voice wasn’t about choosing the best songs, or picking songs to best demonstrate my vocal range, but about choosing songs with the best message,” she says. “I thought, ‘God gave me this platform and I need to inspire people, even if I’m not here to win.’”

After the singing competition, Hawthorne found her way to RCA Inspiration where she found her musical match. In 2017, she collaborated with a lineup of hit-making producers and songwriters including Warryn Campbell and Bernie Herms to release her debut EP, Koryn Hawthorne.  That debut garnered her two Stellar Award nominations earlier this year.

She released her full length album Unstoppable in July 2018, which reached number one on the Top Gospel Albums chart, and in an interview with CBN News, she said the title of the album goes hand in hand with the story of her life and career. “I felt like it would be the perfect name,” she told CBN News.  “Throughout the course of my life, God has always orchestrated my steps. The purpose that God has over my life is unstoppable and nobody can stop that.  With this album, I want to encourage other people with that. Everybody has a purpose and at this time, it’s necessary to find out what your purpose is and be unstoppable in it.”

The title track “Unstoppable” expresses the relentless pursuit of God’s plan. On the album, Koryn’s versatility is on full display from up-tempo songs to raising her fist in victory in the song “Warriors.” It’s obvious that Hawthorne immerses herself into every song she sings to minister to her audience.

The singer appeared on the 2018 Black Music Honors to pay tribute to former Temptations front man Dennis Edwards. Hawthorne also won her first Dove Award this year in the Contemporary Gospel/Urban Recorded Song of the Year category for her hit, “Won’t He Do It.” The single was originally written and conceived for television drama, Greenleaf’s soundtrack. Hawthorne explained on her website that it was important for the song to resonate with fans. “But the most important thing was for the song to sound like I wrote it myself. So, I thought about things in my life, what God has done for me. I don’t ever want to sing something that doesn’t feel like me. My number one rule is that if you don’t feel it, other people won’t.”

The singer also is getting into the Christmas spirit. In November, she released Christmas songs, “First Noel” and “This Christmas” as her first holiday recordings.

With her distinctive vocal prowess and artistry, Koryn Hawthorne continues making her mark as one of the most exciting new voices infusing gospel into her generation.

About the Author

Shameika Rhymes
Shameika Rhymes

Shameika Rhymes is a journalist of all trades. She can usually be found producing television news and has written for outlets like ET Online, ESSENCE, EBONY Magazine, JETMag.com, Shondaland.com, SoulTrain.com, WEtv.com and her own website, www.themofochronicles.com. Follow her on Twitter @Mofochronicles @WriterShameika