I got a chance to sit down to talk with Jackson Chery, a growing icon within the Haitian-American community who's already left his mark with some names that you already know. Here's what he had to say.
The people want to know, who is Jackson Chery?
Well, Jackson Chery is a young man raised on E21st in Flatbush, Brooklyn that loves music, and basketball. I became the Musical Director at Cortelyou Road Church of God when I was 17. While I was studying for my BA in Branding and Marketing at Berkeley College, I was already managing artists. I was part of the Creative Management team for Tye Tribbett, booking manager for Mali Music, Esther & Friends, and Jovita Sheppard. I also served as Chief Executive manager for many festivals featuring Fred Hammond, Isreal Haughton, Cece Winans, Mary Mary and the list goes on. I really love what I do.
When did the Bridging the Gap revolution begin? What is the mission behind BTG?
Bridging The Gap came about in 2013 actually. I was always in love with the songs I grew up with in church. But there was a huge disconnection between young people and the adults. The music had so much power and I knew that so I came up with music to the same lyrics that would allow everyone to enjoy such a strong message using amazing vocalists and producers to help the vision come to life.
You emphasize that you're not very "churchy". What makes a ministry churchy and why don't you want to be known as such?
When people use the term "churchy" these days its a phrase that non believers tend to run from because of the connection to the negative stereotypes regarding church folk. When people hear church they automatically assume that they'll be judged or preached to every second. What I do with Bridging the Gap is for the lost and unsaved. The unsaved are those who have not accepted Christ as their Savior. When people find out that it's for those who don't know Christ they ask "Can saved people enjoy it?" My answer is: Of course! However our message is for the people hurting and looking for a Healer. The music ministers to me and my group as well every time I hear it and every time we play.
BTG has been privileged enough to travel nationally and internationally, it seems like an overnight success. How has BTG evolved over the years?
BTG has been blessed to travel and work and its really God's favor over us. The response of the public has been amazing. I wouldn't call it overnight success because I have been working in the music industry for over 13 years and that has taught me a lot and brought me much success. These experiences helped me on this journey. We have been to France, Canada, South America and countless cities nationwide. I'm excited to announce that we are finally going to Haiti in 2016. The truth is we are just getting started. We are in the business of creating an awareness within the Haitian market and one outlet would be through blogs like HNOW that help people know what's going on about Haiti, and give them access to more information.
You have an extensive history working in music. What role do you think Music plays in the lives of those in our community? How do you plan on using your platform in music to help our community?
Music plays a big part in all of our lives because that is how most messages gets across in this world. I plan on using my platform to deliver the inspiration that God has given me through sound. I believe that through this project we are showing people they can be great in their purpose if they're willing to fight a bit harder. Bridging the Gap is aimed at helping other people discover their purpose and pushing them to go for it regardless of what it is.
Not only do you play for BTG, you also play for International Electronic Transfusion (IET) Band. Do you ever receive any scrutiny regarding that? How difficult (if at all) is it to separate secular from gospel?
IET is more than a music group these days. Its more like like IETNATION and the band plays for a variety of events. I believe in playing love songs that people write. Period. Genres are used to separate listeners. Both Gospel and Christian genres sing about Jesus but are considered two separate genres. Yes, there are sounds I wont play because of the underlying influence but music for me is about the words. I care about the content of the lyrics. IETNATION has been able to touch lives through our music because it's different. A lot of people that I've met through IET Band are now saved and others visit my church when I extend an invite. In a way, I use IET as another tool to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Your life seems to revolve around music. What don't we know? What other branches of entrepreneurship have you expanded yourself in?
I've owned a management company for over 10 years now. One of the artists we represent is Amante Lacey. He has an album coming out March 25th (shameless plug) and we're really excited about that. I've been into stocks for a while. I've also owned restaurants for a few years. And I am currently cooking up a few new situations that will be really big but I'm not ready to announce those projects. Keep looking out.
What's the hardest lesson you've learned since starting your own businesses?
1. When you're self employed, the last person you work for is your self.
2. Purpose has nothing to do with you, God does things through you and not for you.
3. The show must go on... even when staff leaves.
Any last words?
Thank you so much for having me, I believe this blog will grow into many things and I will support it how and when I can. I hope our people continue to spread the word about the Haitian-American market that will create awareness for us all to grow.