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Creator’s Corner: How Kelontae Gavin Went From Cafeteria To Center Stage

creator's corner kelontae gavin - 2023 Black Music Honors - Arrivals

Source: Carol Lee Rose / Getty

NAME: Kelontae Gavin

OCCUPATION: Gospel Singer/Worship Leader

LOCATION: Summerville, South Carolina (by way of Charleston, South Carolina)

HOW ARE YOU USING YOUR GIFT TO INSPIRE THE COMMUNITY? “I use my gift to elevate my community by empowering my community through my songs and inspiration, whether it’s through spoken word or songwriting. Even though I know I am considered a gospel artist, I think gospel music is one of the most powerful genres on planet Earth. It supersedes any racial or ethnic borders, and it supersedes political persuasions. I just love singing about Jesus because He was super controversial but He was life-changing. When I look at gospel music, it is the only genre on the planet that’s able to take the individual listening to it into a whole other sphere where their entire life changed. What other genre can anybody listen to that says, ‘I was healed in this way! I was touched in this way and it made think about my life so to the point that I received salvation through this deity — through this abstract God that we’re still trying to wrap our minds around was fully God and fully man? Like, what is it about this Savior that loved me so much, whether I come from a Catholic background, an Atheistical background or an Agnostic background? Our genre isn’t just upbeat worship; [there’s] slow songs, fast songs and cultural. It is kingdom, and the kingdom genome or DNA that’s in gospel music gives me hope that anytime I sing gospel, anytime I worship, I have the ability and the capabilities to use the gifts that God has given me as an artist and songwriter to empower my community through powerful words of spiritual poetry.”


You are never too young (or too up there in age!) to find an interest in the work of ministry, which could probably fit as a mantra in the life of 25-year-old worship leader and rising gospel star, Kelontae Gavin. With South Carolina always on his mind, the country-bred crooner’s powerful vocals and lasting words of encouragement through prayer have extended to worshipers of His word across the globe. Who could’ve imagined that all this would derive from a decade-old viral video of a then-teenaged Gavin singing the classic hymn “I Won’t Complain” to a cafeteria worker during his days at Summerville High School? The again, by senior year he was already making moves on the charts; first with the impact of his 2016 buzz single, “Higher,” and later on in 2018 with full circle success of his debut LP, The Higher Experience. From “Gospel Airplay” to “Top Gospel Albums,” let’s just say our boy had one glorious victory lap of a rookie run over on Billboard!

Even with 10 years in the game, it seems like Kelontae is just getting started in showing us what he’s capable of. Last summer’s release of Testify, his third studio album following 2021’s award-winning The N.O.W. Experience and the aforementioned debut album from 2018, showcased a growth and deeper connection wit the Lord that reflects in the lyrical content throughout the 15-song project. From literal testimonies to collaborations with the likes of genre faves like Tasha Cobbs Leonard and Kim Burrell, many are still reveling in the greatness delivered from that album!

As a new season rings in new hopes and prayers for the future, we can only hope that just one of ours is answered: more music from Kelontae Gavin! We think it’s coming though — we’ll just be patient and trust that the Lord will continue to bless us all with his heavenly vocals.


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