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James Fortune Contemplated Suicide After Guilty Plea; Chooses to Testify and Keep Performing

James Fortune Contemplated Suicide After Guilty Plea; Chooses to Testify and Keep Performing

[James Fortune at the 2016 Gospel Music Workshop of America]

For Houstonian and Gospel star James Fortune, success did not come quick or easy. Blessed with the ability to minister and not sing, Fortune only had few options as he walked the halls of numerous conventions in the 90’s trying to get noticed.

Fortune and his group ‘Youth for Christ’ (a name that he later changed to ‘FIYA’), would learn about the business and display their youthful sound at conferences like John P. Kee’s V.I.P. convention, and at the Gospel Music Workshop of America (G.M.W.A.).

Things begin to align as trailblazers like Kirk Franklin opened the door for producers, choir directors, and preachers, who wished to minister as their group and choir provided the lyrical back-drop. When things took off for Fortune it was early 2000; Fortune had a hit song with “You Survived,” a loving wife in Cheryl, and 4 children.

Fast-forward to 2014, and Fortune had already been investigated for burning his son in scalding hot bath water, and now he’s taking a plea bargain for physically assaulting his wife. For the incident involving his wife Cheryl, James was sentenced to five days in jail, five years probation, 175 hours of community service, and has recently checked himself into anger management classes.

James Fortune Contemplated Suicide After Guilty Plea; Chooses to Testify and Keep Performing

[James Fortune and Cheryl Fortune accept Stellar Award]

The abuse and subsequent arrest happened at the height of Fortune’s career. He was a multi-Stellar Award winner, and had a nationally syndicated radio show known as “The James Fortune Show.” With concerts booked, Pastors begin to call one by one canceling the ‘I trust you singer’ from participation in church services.

Says fortune, “Pastors begin to call and say, “I’m sorry but you can’t come to our church.”

One Pastor even told James, “I know you’re just coming to worship, but you’re not allowed in my church because of what you did.”

The couple has since split, and Fortune was left with a career altering decision to make. Does he keep performing like nothing ever happened, hoping fans would forgive and forget? Quit performing music all-together? Or perform and testify about his mistakes, essentially throwing himself at the mercy of God’s people? Fortune told a packed house of 5,000 people at the 49th Annual Gospel Music Workshop of America that he is choosing to do the latter.

In the video below fortune shares, “So many professional people said if you don’t talk about it people will forget about it.” Fortune then explains what God told him to do, as he puts his musical career on the rebound. “He said, “James I want you to talk about what they don’t want you to talk about.” “He [God] said the only difference between you and so many others is your stuff was on the news.”


Fortune told the audience that it wasn’t until counseling that he realized he had control issues. And these issues not only caused bouts of rage, but it made him susceptible to comments on blogs and what people had to say on social media. Once he got this under control the singer says he felt free.

Says Fortune, “There were four things that stopped me from being accountable [of my actions].” “I was minimizing it, I was justifying it, I was denying it, and I was blaming other people for my own issue.” God said, “If I could remove those accountability defenses than you can be accountable, and get the healing that you need.”

The 37 year old says that sometimes, “It’s hard to stand in front of church people and admit your issue because sometimes we can be so unforgiving; we can be so judgmental.”

As local Houston news outlets like FOX 26 got wind of the story, Fortune’s children soon heard what some of the national opinions were of the man who encouraged millions to believe in Jesus.

Just three weeks ago, Fortune’s son, James Fortune Jr. (11) told his father, “I worry about you.” “I see the stuff people are saying about you.” Fortune told James Jr., “You’re going to be a much better father than I was; A much better husband than I was.” “I’m going to help you not make the same mistakes.”

Fortune stated that him and his kids were separated for 6 months. He wasn’t allowed to speak to them or answer calls from them. Fortune says during his lowest point he was sitting on his bed with a whole bottle of Xanax that had been prescribed to him for depression. He contemplated taking the whole bottle at one time.

As Fortune considered suicide he says God spoke to him and said “James you’ve been telling everybody else to live through it, you’ve been telling everybody else to trust God, you’ve been telling everybody else to believe that it’s already done.” “He [God] said James you’re not going to die right here; you’re going to live through what you’re going through.”

As the singer fought back tears, the crowd cheered, and on cue James played his current single “Live Through It.”

James Fortune Contemplated Suicide After Guilty Plea; Chooses to Testify and Keep Performing

[James Fortune performing ‘Live Through It’ at the G.M.W.A.]

James Fortune and Cheryl announced their divorce 18 months after the 2014 incident. After counseling they decided to go their separate ways, but the healing seems to be taking place for both James and his victim.

I applaud James for choosing to speak on his issues. The bible tells us that, “We overcome [the enemy] by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony.” -Rev. 12:11.

We also pray for the healing of his ex-wife Cheryl, and victims like her, as we know God has greater in store.

‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the Lord Almighty.  ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the Lord Almighty.”  -Haggai 2:6-9.


ALSO READ: Church Covers Bishop Eddie Long in Love After Revealing He Contemplated Suicide

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