Gospel singer James “JJ” Hairston is the leader, chief songwriter, and director of the Youthful Praise choir, known for its exuberant, urban-tinged gospel and praise & worship songs. Formed in 2001 out of Turner’s Faith Temple in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the choir was originally known as Teens of TFT, and released a debut album, Awesome God, that same year on Evidence Gospel. A second album, Thank You for the Change, which featured a guest spot by Coko, arrived in 2004, followed by Live! The Praise…The Worship, a year later in 2005.
Television appearances on Late Night with Conan O’Brien and Bobby Jones Gospel, and performances with Joan Osborne, Shirley Caesar, and Destiny’s Child increased the choir’s visibility and fan base, as did its exuberant, energetic live shows and urban affinities. Exalted, recorded live in Baltimore, Maryland, was released on both CD and DVD in 2007. It would be five years before their next album, After This, arrived in the spring of 2012, with I See Victoryfollowing two years later in 2014. Two years later, the single “You Deserve It” heralded the release of the next album by Hairston and Youthful Praise. The album, also called You Deserve It, appeared in March 2017 with featured appearances from Maranda Willis, Travis Greene, and Bishop Cortez Vaughn.