Words Rhesa Bernal
Photography Othello Banaci
Fashion Editor Chris Sandford
Grooming Tish Ferguson
(From Preacher’s Kid to Sir the Baptist, meet the man who will change the world.)
His music has a refreshing sound yet has a deeper meaning within those lyrics that gives you chills; Sir The Baptist is just a simple artist with a simple message.
This is Sir the Baptist, the man behind the life-changing music.
BLEU: How does your upbringing as a preacher’s kid from Chicago inspires your music now?
SIR THE BAPTIST: I was born in Bronzeville. Bronzeville was the home place for the Great Migration, and my dad, born in 1924, migrated during that time as well. And of those who migrated around that time was Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, and a bunch of other artists. Bronzeville, at that time, was sort of the birthplace of African-American art, music, poetry, and everything else. So, I’m very influenced by the people that were around back then and even now.
B: How did you go from being William James Stokes to Sir the Baptist?
STB: You don’t wake up one day and just say, “You’re Sir the Baptist,” you know? You’re born who you are and when you find true purpose, you find out who you are all along. You have to grow to understand what you were born to do. Everything in my life has led me to finally see that Sir the Baptist is my reason and my purpose for being here. I have a line on my album that says, “I was the Baptist before my water broke.”
B: Did the passing of your father dictate where you wanted your music to go?
STB: Yes, of course, you grow up looking up to your dad. Not everyone in the hood got to look up to their dad, specifically my generation. My dad was my superhero. I don’t remember watching Superman, Batman, or anyone else. I always remember what my dad did and what we did together. He died when I was 11. The name of my album is “Preacher’s Kid.” Even my mother is a missionary. It just shows how my parents influenced my life.
B: You had an advertising job before you decided to pursue music, what made you realize that music is all you wanted to do?
STB: You get to do your own purpose and mission in music. You get to do your own thing. I just wanted my music to mean a lot more.
B: Who are your inspirations in music?
STB: I listen to a lot of commercial music. I listen to T.V. show intros like Cheers and Amen. When T.V. shows come on, that catchy vibe, I try to keep that in my music. You only have sixty seconds to catch your listeners’ attention. If they don’t feel comfortable, they’ll just shut it off. So, I use the “sixty seconds” motto for inspiration.
B: What is your greatest achievement with your music?
STB: To be able to take spirituality and the most popular music and to be able to put it in a festival or put in front of people who don’t really hear other spiritual singers or rappers.
B: It also seems that your style is incorporated with your religious background and your musical style—long robes and long necklaces, sharp suits—how did you figure your clothing style as an artist out?
STB: I’ve always liked suits. Because of my dad, you had to wear a suit coat jacket. If you’re not wearing a suit coat jacket, you’re not prepared for the day, according to my dad. I had to wear a suit coat jacket when I even played basketball. I also remembered when the Jordans attended my dad’s church, and we would get free Jordans, but we still had to wear a suit. That’s where the suit came from. I also had to wear a robe on certain Sundays. It’s not necessarily connected to religion, but it’s more connected to my dad and where I grew up.
B: Who are your inspirations when it comes to your personal style of clothing?
STB: When I dress myself, I try to image if “I took a picture, would I look timeless?” I look at a lot of old photos and see these artists, I aspire to that. I look at my dad and Louis Armstrong, and they still look timeless.
B: What are you trying to show to the world with your music and with what type of artist you are?
STB: That no matter who you are and what your do and where you come from, that you have a lot of influence. Don’t believe in something you feel like that has already excluded you. I don’t think that God is like that. Everybody should feel comfortable and loved because [exclusion is] not what we’re here for.
Check out the music video Of Sir The Baptist’s song “What We Got ft. Donald Lawerence & Co.”