I have been a North Carolinian citizen all my life. For fun I pretty much like anything that has a sense of adventure associated with it. My hobbies are dancing, singing, laughing and watching romantic movies. I am a kid at heart and feel that most people take themselves much too seriously. I have long given up waiting to change from my childlike fascination of life, I will constantly be amazed with the human existence on this big blue ball called Earth so loved by God.
My career has been a series of twist, turns and unbelievable encounters. As a radio personality I have been afforded the opportunity to see one of my dreams come true. I have been in the media arena for well over twenty years. I am a serious ham and I love to entertain people. My dream is to have my own TV talk show; I am genuinely fascinated with people.
My family is my biggest success; I am blessed to have an adoring husband and three wonderful daughters. They are my anchor. I have been married for nearly thirty years and my daughters have exceeded anything I have done academically. I can hardly believe that I have been blessed in such a magnificent way to have such a loving and devoted family.
I consider it all joy that I am a part of The Light 103.9’s on air staff and thank God each and everyday for an opportunity to share in His music ministry.
Jerry Smith is a 28 year radio veteran who has also worked in television and radio.
Through out his radio career Jerry has worked in numerous music formats such as Classic Rock, Top 40, AC, Gospel, Urban Contemporary, Hip Hop, Urban AC and Oldies.
In 2001 Jerry was awarded The Drummer Award for Program Director of the Year by BRE Magazine. He was the first Gospel Program Director to ever win the award in the awards 25-year history. Jerry also is the operations manager of the Radio One Inspirational format properties throughout the country.
In 2002 Jerry was awarded the Gospel Truth Magazine National Gospel Program Director of the year. In 2003 WNNL, The Light 103.9 programmed by Jerry was a finalist for the NAB Marconi Award for Religious station of the year.
In 2004 WNNL under Jerry’s leadership WNNL was the winner of the 2004 NAB Marconi Award for Religious station of the year. In 2005 Jerry was named as co-winner of the first ever Radio and Records Gospel Program Director of the Year Award. Jerry was a finalist for Radio and Records Gospel Program Director of the Year for 2006, 2007 and 2008. In 2010 Jerry was nominated for a Stellar Award for radio Personality of The Year.
Jerry is on the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital Radio Cares Advisory Counsel and is a member of Toastmasters International.
Jerry was born in Danbury, Connecticut. He is happily married with two daughters and a grand daughter. His hobbies are basketball, reading, landscape design and he loves to listen to music.
The person he admires most is his mother Rev. Margie L. Smith. It is through her prayers and guidance that he is the person he is today.
At the precocious age of five, James Fortune began composing drum accompaniments for his father’s Houston, Texas choir. Long before his first performance and with the guidance of his father James knew in his heart that he was destined to spread the word of God through song and thus became well-versed in the teachings of the Lord. Throughout his adolescent years, James became engrossed in his church’s annual Youth conference; however within him grew a yearning to fellowship with other young people who also shared his fiery zeal for God.
James would soon be given the desire of his heart as God granted the 20 year old the foresight to create a choir that would minister the word of God through song, praise and worship. James, honoring his calling to save souls through music, embarked on a journey to not only unite adolescents in his church but also those in surrounding neighborhoods, and with that Youth For Christ was born.
James Fortune & Youth For Christ began performing regularly at his home church, and it wasn’t long before churchgoers were raving about the group’s dynamic delivery. Within months, James Fortune & Youth For Christ evolved from a small unknown choir to having amassed a loyal and devoted following, many of whom religiously travelled from cities outside of Houston to witness firsthand their electric performances. With a fan base that was rapidly growing and becoming too large for his church, James Fortune & Youth For Christ decided it was time to take God’s message on the road.
Performing at various events throughout Texas, Youth For Christ quickly became a magnetic force for the religious and agnostic alike. Through angelic praise and worship the group advocated a simple yet powerful message – live an abundant life regardless of religious devotion. Their message of unwavering faith and determination coupled with their passionate performances encouraged audiences to withstand the pressures of poverty, drugs, alcohol, and fornication, while filled with the unwavering support and blessings from the Almighty.
On the heels of one of the group’s most spiritually enthralling performances, James was overwhelmed by how much Youth For Christ had accomplished by way of reaching and transforming lives in the name of the Lord. Acknowledging that everyone had spiritually matured as a result of the past years’ experiences, James knew that it was time for the ministry to evolve to reflect their collective growth. In May 2000, Youth For Christ was rechristened FIYA, or “Free In Yahweh’s Abundance” as the name embodied of what it meant to live in adherence to the word of God.
James believed that “…it is not in God’s will for his children to live a defeated and broken life full of uncertainty and anxiety, but to have life and have it more abundantly.” He believed that God’s plan would reveal itself regardless of struggles, pain, and adversity. James Fortune & FIYA were determined to take their message to the highest mountaintops, the lowest valleys and everywhere in between, proving that the love and support of God was the greatest freedom anyone could experience.
In September 2004, James Fortune & FIYA released their highly anticipated debut album, You Survived! Their first smash hit single, also titled You Survived, peaked at #2 on the R&R Gospel Singles chart and became one of the Top 7 Most Played Gospel Songs of the Year, earning James Fortune honors at the 19th Annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards and the 2006 ASCAP Writer’s Award for “Gospel Song of the Year”. The impressive accolades that followed You Survived! served as confirmation that their message of God’s unyielding and inseparable love was both warranted and highly favored.
The success of You Survived!catapulted James Fortune & FIYA to the forefront of gospel enabling them to perform all over the country. However, behind closed doors, the album’s success meant little to James, who was fighting his own personal battle to survive. With his wife pregnant with their third child, the Fortune family found themselves homeless. Having poured all of his family’s resources into his recording project, the Fortune home was foreclosed and their car repossessed.
James, his pregnant wife and their two small children were in and out of motels with little more than the clothes they owned, moving wherever they were required so that James would be able to perform. Unable to afford rooms with more than one bed, James was forced to create makeshift sleeping arrangements in bathtubs with pillows and blankets so that his children could sleep soundly. With no car, no home, minimal possessions and no real financial foundation, James found himself in the midst of a real crisis. Questioning the Lord’s motives behind making You Survived! a monumental success only to render his family homeless, James began to question his place as the head of his ministry, often wondering how he would be able to effectively lead his followers out of the same disparity that was currently enveloping his life.
One night, while praying in his motel room, James was blessed with another life-changing revelation. For the first time in his life he truly doubted the Lord and in a moment of clarity, realizing why he had been ridden with fear and anxiety over his financial troubles, James wrote I Trust You, a heartfelt testament to his undying faith and willingness to follow God’s plan despite his present circumstances. Four years after the release of You Survived!,James Fortune & FIYA reentered the studio more aligned than ever while showcasing the sheer power of belief, and emotion that Fortune demonstrated during his most trying times. Shortly thereafter, their highly anticipated sophomore album The Transformation was released in February 2008.
“I Trust You” the first single off The Transformation, cemented James Fortune & FIYA’s as one of the most fervent performers and song writers in gospel. The success of this effort proved clear that Fortune was well on his way to amassing a bevy of musical accolades typically reserved for beloved gospel greats. The single rocketed to the top of the charts transcending religious denominations to become one of the most treasured and widely accepted spiritual anthems of the decade. For anyone who could identify with the trials and tribulations that James himself experienced, “I Trust You” encouraged them to stay strong and maintain unshakeable faith in the Lord. “I Trust You” remained at the top spot on the Gospel National Airplay chart for 29-weeks, making history by becoming the longest running #1 hit single for any genre, eclipsing Marvin Sapp’s six-month record with “Never Would Have Made It.”
James Fortune & FIYA have performed on nationally syndicated shows including “BET’s 106 & Park Presents Generation Gospel” a faith-based music video countdown program.
In 2010 Fortune’s fan favorite single “I Believe” earned him his second ASCAP Writer’s Award. Additionally, “I Believe” received a 2011 Soul Train nomination for Best Gospel Performance and three (3) Stellar Awards for Contemporary CD of the Year, Contemporary Male Vocalist of the Year and Group/Duo of the Year.
In 2011, Fortune launched his new imprint, F.I.Y.A. Music World, onEntertainment One home to his latest album IDENTITY was released on January 17th, 2012. IDENTITY, a powerful collection of 15 soul-stirring songs of encouragement, hope and healing, debuted at Number 1 on Billboard’s top Gospel and Christian charts in its first week of release. The lead single “Still Able” gave James Fortune his 4th number 1 Song on Billboard. IDENTITY also brought in 2 Grammy Nominations for Gospel Album of the year and Gospel song of the year with “Hold On” featuring Monica & Fred Hammond. The video for “Hold On” debuted on BET’s 106 & Park and crossed over to the Urban AC stations while topping the gospel charts. As a dynamic songwriter, producer and arranger Fortune delivers messages that deeply resonate and promote assurance as the album progresses.
James Fortune & FIYA are soaring as they continue to explode on stages with their sizzling presence while ministering to the hearts of many through music. They continue to push forward while spreading a universally embraced message of love, hope and salvation set to a background of uplifting urban contemporary music ushering in the enveloping and filling spirit of God.