epsmOver the last decade, Dove and Stellar Award nominated recording artist Earnest Pugh has distinguished himself as one of gospel music’s greatest crooners with radio smashes such as “I Need Your Glory” (#1 for nine weeks on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart), “More of You,” “The Great I Am” and his signature song, “Rain On Us.” The show-stopping performer is currently enjoying new chart success with his dynamic collaboration with the legendary Rance Allen on “All Things Through Christ,” a powerful revamp of a Clark Sisters staple that anchors Pugh’s most recent #1 CD “The W.I.N. (Worship in Nassau) Experience: Live in Nassau Bahamas” (P-Man Music Group).
Pugh’s come a long way from his humble roots in Memphis, TN. The 7th of nine children, the five-octave singer was raised in church and fell in love with music early in his life. 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 where Grammy Award winning choir director O’Landa Draper mentored the young vocalist. Pugh kept on singing during a 15-year military career. Once he retired from the armed services, he 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 and the radio single, “Wrapped Up, Tied Up, Tangled Up,” reached the Top 30 on the now defunct Radio & Records gospel chart.
In 2009, Pugh moved to World Wide Music label and shot to the top echelon of the gospel world after the unexpected success of the soul-stirring ballad “Rain on Us” reached #1 on the Hot Gospel Songs chart and made him a contender. The album “Live: Rain on Us” also produced further hits with the Caribbean flavored “The Great I Am” and the bustling “Bless the Lord.” Pugh worked the road had for a year and then compiled his third CD “Earnestly Yours” that became the first gospel CD within the eOne Distribution system to debut at #1 on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. The lead radio single “I Need Your Glory” also zoomed to the top position and was followed by further chart hits such as “For My Good” (featuring Beverly Crawford) and the remake of Keith Pringle’s 1984 gem “Perfect Peace.” Pugh’s last World Wide Music label set was the hits CD, “The E Factor” that was released in late autumn 2012 off of the strength of his duet with R&B star Lalah Hathaway on the inspiring anthem, “Every Promise.”
Pugh then launched his EPM Music Group label via a direct deal with eOne Distribution in Nashville. The label has released charting projects on Chrystal Rucker, Vincent Tharpe & Kenosis, Charles Butler & Trinity and Keith Williams. The singer released “Christmas with Earnest Pugh & Friends” in 2012. The set was a showcase for various artists from the EPM label roster and it also featured a handful of holiday songs by Pugh. The set hit the Top 5 on both the gospel and holiday album charts.
In 2013, Pugh had another surprise for the music industry when he set up P-Man Records with a distribution deal through Central Distribution. He released the live CD “The W.I.N. (Worship in Nassau) Experience: Live in Nassau Bahamas” in the fall and it became Pugh’s second #1 CD. The set features a stellar collaboration with J. Moss on “I Believe You Most.” He followed that Top 40 single with the smooth worship tune “More of You” that rose to #13 on the chart and he’s now enjoying a Top 20 hit with his riveting duet of “All Things Through Christ” with Bishop Rance Allen.
Since his ascent to gospel music’s upper rung, Earnest Pugh has performed on highly rated TV specials such as BET’s “Celebration of Gospel” and “The Stellar Awards.” He tours continuously and does over 150 concert dates a year. He’s also made his acting debut on TV One’s popular “The Ricky Smiley Show” and has appeared in various musical stage plays. He’s been profiled in media as varied as The Washington Post, The New York Times and Gospel Today Magazine. A father of two young adults, Pugh currently resides in Houston, TX where he serves as minister of music at The Light House Church.