James Fortune Opens Up About “Borrowed Influence” & How He Uses His Testimony To Inspire Others


There’s a lot to say about James Fortune’s 20-year career. You can start at the beginning, when he exploded on the scene in 2004 with “You Survived.” We can graduate to 2008 when he sat comfortably on the charts for over a year and at no. 1 for a historic 29-week run with the smash, “I Trust You.” We can even breeze over to 2012 when “Hold On,” a collaboration with R&B icon Monica and one of Gospel’s pioneers, Fred Hammond, would garner the Houston, Texas native his first two Grammy nominations. There would also absolutely be no mentioning of Fortune without 2016, when he pled guilty to an assault case.

SEE ALSO: James Fortune – “For A Long Time (Live)” [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO PREMIERE]

Both triumph and defeat are necessary when talking about the father of seven. It’s an important part of his legacy and what we’ve grown to respect and appreciate about not only Fortune as an artist, but the honesty and relatability that it carries throughout his music.

“If I’m writing something like ‘Live Through It,’ I had to live through different things in my life. A lot of the time we want to escape storms, but sometimes God wants us to endure storms. God spoke it to me first to save my life,” he shared in a recent interview with Elev8.

The 9-time ASCAP winner has learned a thing or two about grace over the last two decades. A career that has spanned both homelessness and public vitriol, Fortune, a now best-selling author, continues to advocate that some of life’s most painful lessons are also some of the greatest blessings.

“You know it’s the strength of God when you’re able to encourage someone else when you’re barely holding on yourself. A lot of the [stormy] seasons I go through, some public but a lot of them would be private, some people wouldn’t even know. As I’m encouraging others, I feel my strength coming back, my faith is renewed,” he said.

Perhaps it was rapper Waka Flocka’s own spiritual journey and renewed faith that made for the perfect collaboration on Fortune’s 2023 single, “Voyage.”

“This record made my soul cry. I had tears in my eyes,” Flocka said on Instagram. And while Fortune is no stranger to teaming up with artists from other genres (he reunited with Monica last year for their second no. 1, “Trusting God”) it does have to make sense.

“I have to know where their heart is. Do we believe in the same God? What is their relationship like? I like to call it borrowed influence,” he said. “There are people who obviously don’t know me, and I get to get the Gospel out on his platform.”

And while Fortune may be certain he’s unknown in certain spaces, a few heavy hitters that do indeed know him, will come together Friday, April 26 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of James and his group FIYA in Houston.


“This is where it all started for me. So, to bring everybody back. Of course, Zacardi Cortez and Lisa Knowles Smith and D’Shondra…Mingon. Issac Carree it going to be hosting it. We’re going to be at Lighthouse Church, Pastor Keion and Shaunie Henderson. It’s going to be powerful, all these hits, all these songs. I’ve been blessed with 15 number one songs in these 20 years, which is an absolute testament to amazing God is and how special He is and how much He’s favored me.”

Catch the exclusive James Fortune interview above, where the gospel artist opens up about “borrowed influence” and how he uses his own testimony to fuel his catalog and inspire others.