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Singing with 'purpose': Teen gospel group spreads message through song
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Singing with 'purpose': Teen gospel group spreads message through song


Positivity. Passion. Purpose. The Triple P’s of life could be summed up in that way for an up-and-coming contemporary gospel group made up of six teenagers on a mission for Christ.

The gospel sextet Purpose began singing just more than a year ago and is made up of the following teens: Madison Bell, 16; Kenderius Pauling, 17; Miracle Lee, 18; Makayla Johnson, 14; Da’jon Holmes, 17; and Aliya Busby, 17.

Bell, Lee, Johnson and Busby are students at Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School, while Pauling and Holmes attend the High School for Health Professions.

For them, singing must come from the heart. It’s something many of them have been doing from as soon as they could talk.

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"I've been singing for as long as I can remember. When I could start talking, I started singing,” Busby said.

Johnson said, “I've been singing since I was about maybe 3 or 4."

Each teen adds their own unique voice to the group, creating a mellifluous sound as can be heard on “Trusting in God,” one of four songs from their debut CD titled “Yes We Can, Yes We Will.”

The group launched the release of their CD with a performance at Brookland Baptist Church in West Columbia in November. They have performed at several area churches, as well as other venues, including Stevenson Auditorium and The Premiere.

The Rev. Frank James, pastor of St. Stephen United Methodist Church in Orangeburg, serves as adviser for the group.

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The group's name holds a special meaning for each of the its members.

“Rev. James kind of like brought it to our attention, and we all kind of stuck with it because, as youth, we have a purpose to get the youth of our community into gospel and to stop doing things that they really don’t have any business doing,” Johnson said.

Busby added, “Everybody don’t really know their purpose on earth. Some people walk in a shadow, and our job is to basically come in and enlighten them and let them know that even at a young age, you do have a purpose. God put you here for a reason.”

Other songs on the group’s CD include “We Can Make It,” “Yes We Can, Yes We Will” and “I Worship You.”

Lee sings “We Can Make It,” a song she describes as having a meditative flow.

“The song that I sing is more like a slow-beat worship song. It’s not fast-paced with a lot of jumping around. It’s more like you focus on God and you meditate. You’re telling him the things that you want, the things that you’re grateful for. That’s what my song is all about,” Lee said.

Madison, who lends her vocals as the lead on “Yes We Can, Yes We Will,” said, “I think that I bring a fun vibe to the group, especially because the song has a different sound to it than the other songs. It gets other people moving ... It just helps get you out of your comfort zone and gets you moving.”

Pauling said, “Although we're so different, we all come together.”

The group even incorporates elements of rap, thanks to the talents of Holmes, who said music is a “stress reliever” for him.

“Since I was young, I always used to rap,” said Holmes, who describes his sound as “unique and powerful” and helps the group get its message out.

Rev. James said, “He does positive rap. That’s one thing I like. Even in one of the songs, he does a very positive rap and it’s very unique.”

The group members love music for different reasons, but all enjoy using mankind’s universal language to spread positive messages.

“I like music because it evolves over time. Music changes depending on the generation and the message they’re trying to get pointed out and comes in so many different genres,” Busby said.

Pauling said, “I like music because it’s basically a gateway to a different experience. The type of music that you listen to basically gets in your spirit and it does affect what you put out. What you put in affects what you put out. So music basically is an outlet for me.”

Johnson described music as her “best friend,” something which provides a calming effect for her to help her throughout the day.

“It uplifts my spirit,” Lee said, adding, “When I’m down, I talk to God the majority of the time. With gospel music, it has messages within the songs that help you get your mind off negativity and focus on God and him only.”

Bell said, “I like how music makes me feel,” noting that figuring out how music perhaps makes others feel is intriguing to her.

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“When I listen to certain songs, I visualize, ‘How did they do this? Why did they do that? What got them to that point where they want to make this type of music?’” she said.

The group has indeed created a sound that they hope will leave a positive influence on others and make them feel that anything is possible with Christ.

Lee said, “It’s a blessing and a privilege to be an advocate for the youth, for Jesus Christ. It’s a blessing that people actually want to listen to you.”

“Someone has to be a leader in our generation now because it’s a lot going on,” Busby said.

“People need hope ... We’re showing the youth and the community that it doesn’t matter what age you are. You can serve the Lord. You can still have fun, but you just need to know that there’s somebody standing in the gap for you, somebody’s praying for you,” Busby added.

“You can come to God with whatever you’re going through,” Holmes said.

Pauling said he has the song “Trusting in God” on his morning worship playlist, a song whose lyrics include "I’m trusting in God to lead the way. I can see a brighter day.”

“On my way to school, I just know that if I don’t listen to this song, my day might not go how I want it to go. Although I know God is going to be with me, I just need that reassurance that I need to trust in him in order to be what he has called me to be,” Pauling said.

The group’s members said they all have grown together and are proud of how far they’ve come.

“It’s been a challenge, but it’s worth it every time I perform. We always have fun with each other ... We just work with each other,” Bell said.

Busby said a bond has been built, one which she hopes the community can replicate through their music.

“I want the community and the listeners to know that you can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. I also want them to know that it doesn’t matter your age, you can still serve God. He’s there for you. I want to see the community rise up together. I feel like we’re so separated and need to be together more. That’s something I want to see in the community,” Busby said.

“Most of us went to school with each other before coming here,” Pauling said.

“Me, Aliyah, Makayla and Madison went to a summer program together. So we already kind of had a bond established. Da’Jon and I go to school together. So it’s that bond. Then when I met Miracle, it was like, ‘You might as well join the bond,’” he said, laughing.

Pauling added, “For me, the journey has been very humbling. When we go to different places, sometimes I feel like, ‘Oh, they’re not going to listen to us,’ but when we get there, there’s always that one person that you can find in the crowd that’s smiling at you and just going along even though they might not know the words.

“The little kids always want to talk to us when we go places ... I feel like this is what we’re supposed to do because of how many people gravitate toward us.”

Lee said, “We really have no falling outs but, if we do, we get right back in the zone and keep on ticking.”

Busby said, “My dad always told me that everything in life is about relationships, relationships with each other as a group, relationships with our fans and our supporters. So if we just build the right relationship, we can get a good outcome.”

The group’s message is simple.

“We just want everyone to recognize that God is real and that you can trust in God no matter your age, situation or circumstances,” Lee said.

Want to get a whole lot more from

For more information on Purpose, call James at 803-447-3686, Latrina Holmes at 803-290-7878 or Allen Mance at 803-414-6875. Individuals can also visit online at

Contact the writer: or 803-533-5534. Follow "Good News with Gleaton" on Twitter at @DionneTandD


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