Minister Craig Walden has blazed a trail in the ministry of music that has allowed him to work with some of the greats in gospel music. He produced and wrote the award-winning album, “I Desire to Praise Your Name;” appeared on the BET television series, “Bobby Jones Gospel;” and served as musical director during a tour with legendary gospel singer, Tramaine Hawkins.
Walden was recently awarded the South Florida Legend Award by the Miami-Dade Alliance of Gospel Music Professionals. He serves as the lead director and songwriter for the Miami Mass Choir under the leadership of founder, Superintendent Marc Cooper. The choir is best known for its hit song, “What God Has for Me.” It has released four albums including its most recent album, “Miami Mass Choir Live at Adrienne Arsht Center,” in 2017.
He is also the minister of music at St. John Missionary Baptist Church in Boynton Beach. Walden has previously served at the Mount Bethel Baptist Church in Fort Lauderdale, Faith Center in Sunrise and New Hope Baptist Church in Miami.
Music was a focal point in his family. His mother, Christine was a contralto singer in the female gospel quartet, Christian Voices. His father, Andy, was the lead singer in the male gospel quartet, Smiling Jubilees. His godmother was Virginia Bostic, gospel legend and lead singer with the Miami Mass Choir, who also sang with his mother in Christian Voices.
“Music has always been in my life,” said Walden, who initially planned to become a basketball star before a knee injury in college. “There was always a piano in my house. I learned to play by ear. I never had formal lessons, but I learned to read music.”
He produced and wrote the award-winning album, “I Desire to Praise Your Name,” which featured gospel singer Lisa Page Brooks. She was a member of the internationally known gospel group Witness, who was produced by her husband Michael Brooks, a member of the well-known gospel group Commissioned, whose members included Fred Hampton and Marvin Sapp.
“She is one of my all-time favorite gospel artists,” Walden said.
Walden took his talents to the small screen when his gospel group Craig Walden and Company made three appearances on the BET television series, “Bobby Jones Gospel.” The group, which released the album, “Craig Walden and Company Live in Miami,” was signed by legendary gospel artist John P. Kee’s production company.
“The first time we were on the show we thought we made it,” Walden said.
Last year, Craig Walden and Company celebrated its 30th year anniversary with a reunion concert at New Birth Baptist Church Faith Cathedral in Miami.
Another rewarding experience for Walden was being the musical director during the 1996 tour for legendary gospel singer, Tramaine Hawkins.
“I learned how to operate as a professional and be the best at my craft,” Walden said. “People are paying to see you, so you want to have a rewarding concert. You want to have a spirit of excellence that is gleaming. It was tremendous to learn that from her.”
Walden is currently in remission after battling prostate cancer. He credits Mount Bethel and its choir for stepping up to the plate and helping him during the difficult time.
“They were astute enough to know what to do,” Walden said. “I didn’t have to exert myself so much.”
This year, he hopes to release a solo album entitled, “A Restored Worshipper.”
“I had to put the project on hold due to my health challenges,” Walden said.
One of the things he best enjoys about his career is helping people grow their musical gifts. But, he always stays focused on the goal of the music ministry.
“My mission is to reach all people,” Walden said. “My criteria for songs of worship on Sunday are to glorify God, edify the saints and evangelize the sinner. Everyone falls in one of those categories.”