Dove and Stellar Award nominated recording artist Earnest Pugh wants to spend Valentine’s Day with you – all year long. “My fans and supporters show me love 365 days a year,” the five-octave crooner says. “So, I wanted to give them a song to celebrate the loved ones in their lives.” The remake of the classic “You Are So Beautiful” is earning airplay on Adult R&B stations and Pugh just wrapped up a national contest surrounding the song.
The grand prizewinner Latasha Kennedy won a dozen roses, a box of chocolates and all six of Pugh’s hit CDs to help make her Valentine’s Day a little lovelier. As he mentioned previously, Pugh has been feeling the love all year round. His latest CD “The W.I.N. (Worship in Nassau) Experience” debuted at #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart this past fall and has already produced two big chart hits with the soaring ballad “More of You” and the urban flavored collaboration with J. Moss, “I Believe You Most.” The new single “All Things Through Christ” is a no holds barred, down-home vocal slugfest between Pugh and gospel legend Rance Allen. The dynamic song with a neo-soul doowop groove is making its way up the gospel chart.
Last year, Pugh’s now- classic “I Need Your Glory” (it spent 9 weeks at #1 on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart) earned special recognition from BMI as one of the most played gospel songs of the year. It was also the year that Pugh made two high-profile duets. He invited the renowned church-wrecker Beverly Crawford to join him on a song he wrote entitled “For My Good.” Then, he hooked up with R&B legend Lalah Hathaway on the inspiring “Every Promise.” Both songs landed on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart and make inroads for Gospel’s Leading Man at Adult R&B radio. Moreover, Pugh is now a record executive. His EPM Music Group label has issued hit projects by Chrystal Rucker, Vincent Tharpe & Kenosis, Charles Butler & Trinity and Keith Williams. After years of licensing his masters to other labels, Pugh’s own albums are now released through his P-Man Record label.
Pugh’s current success is a culmination of his childhood dreams. The 7th of nine children, the Memphis native was raised in church. His heroes then were gospel greats like Darryl Coley and Vanessa Bell Armstrong. “I literally stood in the mirror and pretended that I was them in concert,” he recalls. He started singing around his hometown and kept on singing during a 15-year military career. Once he retired, Pugh served as a worship leader at various churches in Houston, Atlanta and Washington, D.C. He also put together a demo and sent it to all the major gospel record labels. “Everybody turned me down,” he says but that didn’t sway him. He bankrolled his own CD with the help of some close friends. “A Worshipper’s Perspective” was released in 2006, the radio single, “Wrapped Up, Tied Up, Tangled Up,” reached the Top 30 on the now defunct Radio & Records gospel chart.
It was a rough period for Pugh as his life was literally wrapped up, tied up and tangled up in crises. His eighteen-year marriage had fallen apart, he was battling his CD distributor and he was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis. It was also the year that Pugh’s mother was declared brain dead and died. He was left with the decision to pull the plug on his mother’s life support. “It literally threw me for a loop and shut me down for several months,” he says. “My mother was my everything. She is the reason I am doing what I am doing. I had to pull myself together to do what I knew she would want me to do and that was to minister to God’s people. She always said to me: `sing in the midst of everything, son.
It’s not what you go through but how you go through it. You must pack a praise down in your spirit at all times because where you are going – you’re gonna need it.’ I live by those words and those very words encourage me every time I step to a microphone to minister.”
In addition to the memories of his mother’s poignant words, Pugh was also soon armed with a bevy of hits to encourage him every time he stepped on stage. Huge success finally came in 2009 with the release of the CD project, “Earnest Pugh Live – Rain On Us.” The dynamic ballad “Rain On Us” catapulted him to super stardom in the Gospel music industry. The song escalated to the #1 position on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart and became the sixth most popular gospel song of 2010. The ensuing singles “The Great I Am” peaked at #15 and “Perfect Peace” reached #22 on the same chart. The CD rose to #2 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums Chart.