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Darius Paulk

A gospel artist with a strong voice and a faith to match, Darius Paulk broke out as an artist in 2019 after establishing himself as a songwriter. Paulk's music is based in the uplifting sounds of contemporary gospel while also incorporating elements of pop and R&B, giving his music polish without buffing away its emotional side. While Paulk's 2019 track "Strong Name" wasn't his recording debut, the song's warm but commanding sound and his committed vocal style gave him his first taste of success as a performer and typified his approach.

Darius Paulk was born and raised in Douglas, Georgia, a town in the southern part of the Peach State. His family was a household of music lovers, and as he grew up he wanted to make music part of his life. After completing high school, Paulk enrolled in Morris Brown College in Atlanta, where he studied business administration while minoring in music. Paulk also found a spiritual home in the city at the Citadel of Hope Evangelistic Church of God in Christ, led by Pastor Nathan L. Simmons, and in time Paulk became a praise and worship leader at the church. Maurice Culpepper was the church's Minister of Music, and he encouraged Paulk to focus on his talents after hearing him sing during a service. Paulk's songs became a regular part of the church's ministry, and in 2007, he contributed a song to Dwayne McMillan's album Father and Son Bonding Project. When gospel star VaShawn Mitchell attended the Citadel of Hope one Sunday, he heard Paulk perform his song "Nobody's Greater," and Mitchell thought it would be a good fit for him and recorded it. Released in 2011, Mitchell's interpretation of "Nobody's Greater" would spend a year on the gospel charts, peaking at number one, and won the Stellar Award for Urban/Inspirational Single of the Year.

After the success of "Nobody's Greater," Paulk became an in-demand songwriter in the gospel field, and his compositions were recorded by Jason Nelson, Kevin Lemons & Higher Calling, Marica Chisolm, and the Atlanta West Pentacostal Choir, among others. As his profile rose as a composer, Paulk decided it was time to step out as a recording artist, and in 2012 he self-released a five-song EP titled Lyrics & Melodies. He also penned "Through It All" for Tamela Mann, which became an award winner at the ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards.

Despite his rising star, Paulk experienced a crisis of confidence and was considering giving up his musical career until the lyrics of the song "Deeper" came to him during a worship service. Marvin Sapp recorded the song, and Paulk caught a second wind and took another stab at recording. He struck a deal with Atlanta International Records, an affiliate of the independent soul and gospel label Malaco, who issued the song "Strong Name" in early 2019. The track fared well on gospel radio and helped spread Paulk's name as a vocalist rather than a behind-the-scenes figure. ~ Mark Deming

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