Gospel Messengers 

Viral Richmond sensation Resound wants to make God famous.

click to enlarge Singers Mariah Hargrove, Joseph Clarke and Jessica Fox make beautiful music together in the gospel group Resound, which has become something of a viral sensation thanks in part to a tweet by Ariana Grande.

Ash Daniel

Singers Mariah Hargrove, Joseph Clarke and Jessica Fox make beautiful music together in the gospel group Resound, which has become something of a viral sensation thanks in part to a tweet by Ariana Grande.

Behold the power of a tweet. One day you’re a hard-working Richmond musical trio and the next, your video is being shown on “Good Morning, America.”

When pop star Ariana Grande saw video of local musicians Resound doing an a cappella Christmas medley, she raved to her followers, “living for these human beings ... i ... cannott!!!”

Following up with another tweet the same day, she laid out reasons for her newfound enthusiasm: “their voices ... the arrangement ... their musicality ... i can’t tell u how many times i’ve watched this. i luv them.”

It was enough for the producers of “Good Morning, America” to call the band that night and request permission to play the video the next morning. Response was so positive that the producers flew the group to New York the following Sunday to appear on Monday’s show. Six months ago, Resound had 1,500 likes on Facebook. Today it has 16,000.

Members Joseph Clarke, Jessica Fox and Mariah Hargrove got together over food and a mutual love of singing. Clarke and Fox were childhood friends who needed no excuse to sing together. They met Hargrove when all three were singing background in the play “Road to Redemption” and something clicked. They went on to sing together as part of larger groups, often gospel, but with no identity of their own.

“One day they were over at my Mom’s house. She’d been cooking up all this food for us and we were singing at the table,” Fox says. “It got recorded so all three of us posted it on our Facebook pages. We all got ‘likes’ on it and people were expecting more. We didn’t even have a name!”

Determined to come up with one that was both musical and reflected their Christian roots, Fox suggested Resound.

“It was perfect,” Hargrove says. “It means to fill with sound and to have a great effect on people, to echo. People always tell us we sound like more than three people.”

The video heard round the world was done a cappella but the group’s music casts a wider net.

“We try to do everything — classical, gospel, jazz,” Hargrove says. “We’re trying to mesh everything together.”

While all the videos posted have been a cappella, the group plans to incorporate instruments into some of its next material.

Before its national television gig, Resound had started working on an EP with the single “Lift Every Voice,” released on Martin Luther King Day. The rest of the album is being financed through crowd sourcing at gofundme.com/resound.

With all the attention the group’s getting, including fans from Africa, Australia, Brazil and England, it’s revamping some of the material to ensure that it has crossover potential to appeal to its newly expanded fan base. “Now that we know we have the attention of everyone,” Clarke says, “we want it to be a knockout.”

As for the group’s music-making and arranging, it’s a collaborative process often involving food.

“I’ll suggest something to Mariah, she’ll have an idea for me and the three of us will input together until we all hear what we like,” Fox says. “That’s when I feel most connected to them.”

“Music has gotten less stimulating and intellectual,” she says. “We love to arrange complex harmonies. It means something to work on your craft and see other small groups doing a cappella. Let’s keep that going.”

The members of Resound would like to see more of the world as they continue touring. After playing venues such as the White House, Howard University and Hampton Coliseum, they’re remarkably at ease with their mounting success.

“I’m not surprised at what God can do,” Hargrove says. “If he can raise the dead, he can put us on a TV stage in front of 17 million people.”

“Our goal is to make God famous,” Clarke says. “We have a gift inside of us and the goal isn’t to make it but to give back. As Richmond supports us, we support Richmond. There’s so much talent here that can make a difference in the world. As we grow, we’ll pull people up.” S

Resound performs at the Radio 1 Transformation Expo on March 21, 3 p.m., at the Richmond Coliseum. Donations can be made at gofundme.com/resound.



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