Earnest Pugh has brought style and sophistication back to the gospel music genre just like Sam Cooke did back in gospel music’s golden era. Over the last few years, he’s earned the title as Gospel’s Leading Man for his marquee #1 radio anthems such as “Rain On Us” and “I Need Your Glory.” The dashing music idol continues to stir hearts and souls on his new tune, “I Believe You Most,” that was co-written by Pugh and produced by the Grammy Award and American Music Award winning PAJAM production trio of Paul “pda” Allen, Walter “Stone” Kearny, and J. Moss.
“I Believe You Most” is the first radio single from Pugh’s forthcoming “Live in the Bahamas” CD that will be released in summer 2013 on Pugh’s new P-Man Music label with distribution via Nashville’s Central South Distribution (CSD). Grammy Award winner Cedric Thompson is producing the session that will also include a concert version of the new radio song and a medley of hits popularized by the late choirmaster O’Landa Draper (of The Associates) who is best remembered for backing Billy Joel on his 1992 classic “The River of Time.” Pugh adds, “The O’Landa Draper medley is going to be a special moment for me. Most people know that he was my mentor and really encouraged me to go beyond the four walls of my church and to accept engagements as a soloist when I was as young as 14 years old. I’m thrilled to be in a position to help the next generation of gospel music lovers to get to know O’Landa’s music and to keep his name and music alive.”
The number one hits, paying homage to a musical hero and international travel, are just a handful of Pugh’s childhood dreams that have come true for the Memphis, TN native. The 7th of nine children, he 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, DC. 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 minister to God’s people,” Pugh recalls. 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.” Pugh says, “I live by those words and those very words encourage me every time I step to a microphone to minister.”