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Feb. 22, 2022

Jeffrey LeValley, Gospel Grammy Songwriter

Jeffrey LeValley, Gospel Grammy Songwriter

Gospel Songwriter Jeffrey LeValley discusses his life and career and his Grammy-winning song recorded by gospel star Kanye West.


Jeffrey LeValley is a gospel composer and songwriter. He discusses a Grammy winning song he wrote "Revelations 19:1" recorded by hip-hop artist Kanye West.

The pandemic brought well-known Flint area gospel composer, director, and performer Jeffrey LeValley a gift he could never have imagined. In 2021, a song he wrote, Revelations 19:1, was recorded by hip-hop artist Kanye West. The song won a Grammy Award for West and LeValley, who wrote the song. In previous years, LeValley was Grammy-nominated for his work in gospel music. LeValley also received a lifetime achievement award from BMI for his work in Gospel Music.

LeValley has no shortage of Flint area fans. He wrote and performed a song played for Pope John Paul on his visit to the Detroit area. He has performed with Aretha Franklin, Peabo Bryson, and Lou Rauls, to name a few. He estimates he recorded 275 recording projects in his long musical career.

For over 40 years, Jeffrey has served as the minister of music at the New Jerusalem Full Gospel Baptist Church in Flint. He also served as the International Minister of Music for the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Presiding Bishop for nine years.

During the interview, Jeffrey discusses his life and career. He shares his love of Flint. Jeff LeValley is a Flint music legend. Kirk Franklin provided the music for this podcast (Lift Every Voice and Sing). The outro is Revelations 19:1, performed by the New Jerusalem Missionary Baptist Choir, featuring Pastor Odis Floyd and Jeffrey LeValley. He directed the choir and wrote the song. 

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Transcript

00:00:28 Arthur A. Busch

Jeffrey, welcome. It's a pleasure to have you as a guest.

00:00:33 Jeffrey LeValley

It's a privilege to be here, honored.

00:00:35 Arthur A. Busch

I have wanted to interview you for two since I started this. You are a legend in Michigan, if not beyond, in gospel music. Your name is synonymous with excellence. You've been recognized across this country as one of the best composers, producers, and gospel music writers.

In recent years collaborated with a number of musicians of gospel music.

The Jesus is King project was nominated for an award as Billboard’s Top Christian artist and their top Gospel Artist award.

The Jesus is born Project was nominated for the top Gospel Album Award, and the song Selah was nominated in the top Gospel Song category.

00:01:20 Arthur A. Busch

In March of 2021, the Jesus is King Project won the Grammy Award.

00:01:25 Arthur A. Busch

For the best contemporary Christian music album making, Jeffrey Lavalley, my guest, a Grammy-winning composer, Uh Jeffreys been recognized nationally by the BMI as one of the 2021 Trail Blazers of Gospel Music. A highly.

00:01:46 Arthur A. Busch

Prestigious award in the music camp.

00:01:48 Arthur A. Busch

History, and it's in recognition of Jeffrey's many contributions to the gospel genre. 2021 the Kanye single Sailor, which contains a sample of Jeffrey's composition revelation.

00:02:01 Arthur A. Busch

Nineteen one was certified gold by the recording industry of America, denoting sales of half a million copies.

00:02:08 Arthur A. Busch

I didn't realize how much you were getting frequent flyer miles.

00:02:14 Arthur A. Busch

That's it.

00:02:16 Arthur A. Busch

Jeffrey Lavalle has received proclamations from several cities.

00:02:23 Arthur A. Busch

Which include Dallas, Buffalo, Cincinnati, and Little Rock, and he was decreed an honorary citizen of the city of Louisville.

00:02:34 Arthur A. Busch

You wrote and composed a song for the Pope on his papal visit to Detroit four years ago.

00:02:42 Arthur A. Busch

He has performed.

00:02:45 Arthur A. Busch

As a writer, musician, director, and producer, or have appeared on over 275 projects of All Nature and gospel music with choirs throughout the nation. Besides playing for the Pope and performing his music there, he also performed music with Aretha Franklin.

00:03:05 Arthur A. Busch

When she came to Flint.

00:03:07 Arthur A. Busch

He also was featured as an artist in the Gentlemen of Gospel Series at the John F Kennedy Center in New York Jeffrey has done an amazing amount of work in 40 years.

00:03:20 Jeffrey LeValley

Thank you, it's an honor.

00:03:21 Arthur A. Busch

That's the longest introduction I've ever given.

00:03:27 Arthur A. Busch

What does gospel music mean to the people of Flint?

00:03:29 Jeffrey LeValley

Gospel plays a big part in the city of Flint, with of course you know we have near churches here.

00:03:36 Jeffrey LeValley

You have a myriad of church choirs, good choirs, from gospel music.

00:03:41 Jeffrey LeValley

It has played a part in encouraging the people of Flint for years. Sometimes it's a difficult circumstance, and on Sunday morning, we come to church to be encouraged to be uplifted, and 90% of the time, it's the music that gives us that uplifting that we need that carries us.

00:04:01 Jeffrey LeValley

Until next Sunday, we come back to hear more good music and singing.

00:04:06 Jeffrey LeValley

And very few churches here in the city of Flint don't have good choirs.

00:04:11 Jeffrey LeValley

Everybody got a good choir.

00:04:13 Jeffrey LeValley

I mean that that's something that you don't find in most of these, but everybody is quite pretty good.

00:04:19 Arthur A. Busch

You wanted to be a broadcaster at one.

00:04:21 Arthur A. Busch

Time is there.

00:04:22 Jeffrey LeValley

When I went to Marquette, I started in business administration, and when I realized how much math was.

00:04:28 Jeffrey LeValley

Going to be.

00:04:29 Jeffrey LeValley

Involved, I said no.

00:04:30 Jeffrey LeValley

We're gonna switch here.

00:04:32 Jeffrey LeValley

So when I went to Penn State, I started studying journalism, and I wanted to be a newscaster.

00:04:39 Jeffrey LeValley

I desired to be an anchor.

00:04:41 Jeffrey LeValley

I don't know what happened, but somehow I never got the opportunity to do so.

00:04:47 Jeffrey LeValley

I never finished any of mine.

00:04:49 Jeffrey LeValley

And courses for the class.

00:04:52 Jeffrey LeValley

So I never really got into doing journalism.

00:04:55 Jeffrey LeValley

I love movies.

00:04:57 Jeffrey LeValley

I'm a news junkie.

00:04:59 Jeffrey LeValley

I always watch the news, which I always wanted to do, but I never got the opportunity.

00:05:06 Arthur A. Busch

You have had a lot of success here in Flint, MI.

00:05:12 Arthur A. Busch

Why Flint?

00:05:14 Jeffrey LeValley

I love Flint.

00:05:15 Jeffrey LeValley

We're central to go anywhere around the country, so close to Detroit airport.

00:05:20 Jeffrey LeValley

I can go anywhere in the world in an hour.

00:05:23 Jeffrey LeValley

's time I can just be Flint and go wherever I want to go and come back here. I love this city. When I moved here in 1972.

00:05:34 Jeffrey LeValley

I never expected to become a lover of this city.

00:05:39 Jeffrey LeValley

I just figured we're gonna be a place I'd live for.

00:05:41 Jeffrey LeValley

A while and.

00:05:42 Jeffrey LeValley

I would move on to somewhere like DC, another city I've always loved, but I love Flint.

00:05:50 Jeffrey LeValley

Flint has so much to offer.

00:05:52 Jeffrey LeValley

And many people take living and sleeping for granted, but you don't have to leave Flint to accomplish anything. If they want you, they'll get you from where you are.

00:06:02 Jeffrey LeValley

And I'm living proof that I  stay here in Flint and travel around the country and around the world doing what I do, and I love it.

00:06:11 Jeffrey LeValley

I love this place.

00:06:12 Arthur A. Busch

Do you have some favorite places?

00:06:15 Jeffrey LeValley

I like the Cultural Center. I love Whiting auditorium. I love the slums and close FIM. Have a special place in my heart because I went to school there and when I was attending my so they have a special place.

00:06:29 Jeffrey LeValley

In my heart.

00:06:30 Jeffrey LeValley

But I just love the city.

00:06:32 Jeffrey LeValley

I love the vibrancy and people saying finish dying.

00:06:36 Jeffrey LeValley

Fenn is dying well, the only reason it may be dying is that General Motors left.

00:06:42 Jeffrey LeValley

But there's plenty of life outside of General Motors that's going on in.

00:06:48 Arthur A. Busch

Flint has had quite a few people over the years who have been very successful nationally, and internationally as recording artists.

00:06:58 Arthur A. Busch

Tell us a few of the people you admire and follow.

00:07:03 Jeffrey LeValley

It's a lot you got, Dee Dee Bridgewater.

00:07:05 Jeffrey LeValley

You got ready for the world, but those guys do not get the credit.

00:07:10 Arthur A. Busch

And it.

00:07:10 Jeffrey LeValley

That they deserve for putting the city of Flint on the match.

00:07:14 Jeffrey LeValley

They weren't ready for the world to expose people to the talent in Flint.

00:07:20 Jeffrey LeValley

 Bernard Terry, had it not been for them, the fed would still be mediocre.

00:07:26 Jeffrey LeValley

You're talking about the Mccampbell brothers.

00:07:29 Jeffrey LeValley

The Mac band, wow.

00:07:31 Jeffrey LeValley

Kenneth Martin and the voices in praise on the gospel side.

00:07:34 Jeffrey LeValley

There's just talent among talent upon talent here in Flint that does not get recognized, but Seth is a very musically

00:07:43 Jeffrey LeValley

Talented city, a generation of young gospel artists coming on the scene house in Flint are going to break through and do some amazing things here.

00:07:54 Jeffrey LeValley

Michael Mosby.

00:07:56 Jeffrey LeValley

As any semester, then you probably for me was Sidney Oliver, who left here, moved to New Jersey.

00:08:04 Jeffrey LeValley

His niece is probably one of the most spectacular vocalists in this area.

00:08:09 Jeffrey LeValley

You got Glenn Penniman's hamper?

00:08:11 Jeffrey LeValley

I mean, I could maybe Glenn Callaway, my God, I could name forever Delano.

00:08:17 Jeffrey LeValley

There's just Johnny person.

00:08:19 Jeffrey LeValley

Jeremy Riley, these people are up and coming and will break open on the scene on the music scene here in Flint.

00:08:28 Jeffrey LeValley

There's a lot of talent there, and a lot of the chatter that she goes up overlooked through something that we gotta change.

00:08:35 Jeffrey LeValley

Slim has an abundance of musically gifted people.

00:08:39 Arthur A. Busch

You left Milwaukee a long time ago.

00:08:42 Jeffrey LeValley

A long time ago.

00:08:44 Arthur A. Busch

And somehow, we landed in Flint.

00:08:46 Arthur A. Busch

How did that come about?

00:08:48 Jeffrey LeValley

I came here in November 1972 to play for a friend's father.

00:08:55 Jeffrey LeValley

Reverend Floyd was related to the person that never met him.

00:08:59 Jeffrey LeValley

Never seen him. I didn't know him.

00:09:01 Jeffrey LeValley

After the funeral, he asked me if I would come to their choir rehearsal on Saturday, which is always at 12 noon.

00:09:09 Jeffrey LeValley

So I came to rehearsal that Saturday and taught a couple of songs for the choir.

00:09:13 Jeffrey LeValley

They sang that Sunday morning.

00:09:15 Jeffrey LeValley

We had a.

00:09:15 Jeffrey LeValley

Great service after service.

00:09:18 Jeffrey LeValley

I found myself in the office with him and Deacon William Vaughn, the chairman of the Deacon board, and they asked me if I would consider moving to Flint.

00:09:30 Jeffrey LeValley

So I went home back to Milwaukee, and I asked my mom, and of course, on that day, I was brought up in the Church of God in Christ.

00:09:38 Jeffrey LeValley

So you didn't just in those days, you didn't just leave home without telling your pastor where you were going, and I went to my pastor until when I was thinking about moving the center, and he told me no.

00:09:51 Jeffrey LeValley

That I couldn't move here that I had to stay there.

00:09:54 Jeffrey LeValley

I was needed in Milwaukee, and Milwaukee was supposed to be.

00:09:58 Jeffrey LeValley

So I went home and told my mom what he said that he said no, and she said, well, I tell you what, if you really wanna go, I'll pack your bags, and two weeks later I was here.

00:10:11 Arthur A. Busch

You came to Flint and joined the Congregation of Reverend Floyd's Church. And then what?

00:10:19 Jeffrey LeValley

And moving here, one of the arrangements I had to make was thought I could play.

00:10:24 Jeffrey LeValley

For that church.

00:10:26 Jeffrey LeValley

I promised my mother that without withdrawing from the Church of God in Christ, so I joined Bishop Roger Jones Church, Holy Temple.

00:10:34 Jeffrey LeValley

So in the morning, I'd play in New Jerusalem, but at night I'd sit in the class.

00:10:39 Jeffrey LeValley

I am singing at Holy Temple on Sunday nights.

00:10:43 Jeffrey LeValley

I formulated to you Friday at Holy Temple when I was there.

00:10:46 Jeffrey LeValley

I guess about.

00:10:46 Jeffrey LeValley

Two or three years.

00:10:48 Jeffrey LeValley

And then I started feeling guilty taking the money I was being paid in New Jerusalem and paying me.

00:10:54 Jeffrey LeValley

I give my tithes to Holy Temple, so I turn around and join.

00:11:00 Jeffrey LeValley

Who's been there ever since you got it?

00:11:03 Arthur A. Busch

To know Reverend Floyd quite well.

00:11:07 Arthur A. Busch

What kind of person was he?

00:11:09 Jeffrey LeValley

He was a big man in stature who had a big heart.

00:11:14 Jeffrey LeValley

He would do anything for anybody.

00:11:17 Jeffrey LeValley

He was one that was willing to help not only those in New Jerusalem, but he was a great asset to the community of Flint.

00:11:26 Jeffrey LeValley

When I moved here, I stayed.

00:11:29 Jeffrey LeValley

With Bishop in his home with his family, for whom at.

00:11:33

Three years.

00:11:33 Jeffrey LeValley

Here I stayed at home, and he treated me just as I was his son.

00:11:39 Jeffrey LeValley

There was nothing that he wouldn't do for me.

00:11:42 Jeffrey LeValley

I noticed that for me and anybody who needed his help or assistance.

00:11:48 Jeffrey LeValley

I learned how to be generous by following his example.

00:11:52 Jeffrey LeValley

I learned how to help.

00:11:54 Jeffrey LeValley

By following his example, not so much as him saying what to do but watching him do it because that's the kind of guy he was.

00:12:03 Jeffrey LeValley

He would do anything for anybody as long as it was positive.

00:12:07 Jeffrey LeValley

And I.

00:12:07 Jeffrey LeValley

I learned that from him, you know we are to help others and to help others grow.

00:12:13 Jeffrey LeValley

He taught me.

00:12:14 Jeffrey LeValley

How to do that?

00:12:15 Jeffrey LeValley

Do you know how to beat as to who to even hang around with?

00:12:20 Jeffrey LeValley

Who does watch your association so that you don't get in trouble because you were with somebody at the wrong place at the wrong time?

00:12:29 Jeffrey LeValley

He taught me that awful lot, which I'll never forget.

00:12:33 Jeffrey LeValley

For that, he lived generously.

00:12:37 Jeffrey LeValley

He lived like it was.

00:12:39 Jeffrey LeValley

His purpose was that we've all heard the song if I could help somebody as I pass along, then my living shall not be in vain.

00:12:47 Jeffrey LeValley

If you wanted to see a living example of that, it was Bishop.

00:12:51 Jeffrey LeValley

He lived to help others.

00:12:55 Arthur A. Busch

He was a tremendous talent with his music, and he integrated that into his sermons, a historic thing in African American church.

00:13:08 Arthur A. Busch

Just tell us about that.

00:13:10 Arthur A. Busch

His talents and music and some of your observations of his abilities.

00:13:16 Jeffrey LeValley

He could sing even the phone book he was singing.

00:13:20 Jeffrey LeValley

He could sing anything and everything.

00:13:24 Jeffrey LeValley

He was one of the recordings that we featured him on.

00:13:27 Jeffrey LeValley

Show me.

00:13:28 Jeffrey LeValley

The way, written by John Key from North Carolina, Bishop came to rehearsal once.

00:13:34 Jeffrey LeValley

One time he went over the song one time and said OK, and left.

00:13:40 Jeffrey LeValley

Out and I.

00:13:41 Jeffrey LeValley

Mean the choirs going over this week?

00:13:43 Jeffrey LeValley

After week after, week after week.

00:13:44 Jeffrey LeValley

So I was a little nervous to see how it would turn on one tape, and he had.

00:13:50 Jeffrey LeValley

I mean, he laid it out, and it became a national hit.

00:13:54 Jeffrey LeValley

For not for him, Amber Church Bishop was a talented guy.

00:13:58 Jeffrey LeValley

He could sing had it not been for his inspiration.

00:14:03 Jeffrey LeValley

There'd be no revelation.

00:14:05 Jeffrey LeValley

19 and one.

00:14:06 Jeffrey LeValley

He was responsible for the inspiration for that.

00:14:08 Jeffrey LeValley

I saw.

00:14:09 Arthur A. Busch

That song, of course, got you a Grammy Award in part and many others.

00:14:15 Arthur A. Busch

You've recorded a lot of records, yes.

00:14:22 Jeffrey LeValley

I know I've been on 270 projects, 200 seventy 275. I've done that many projects.

00:14:29 Jeffrey LeValley

Some of them were successful, and some of them were not so successful. I've been doing recordings since I was 14 years old. I'll be 69 on my next birthday, so I've been recording for a long time when it came to.

00:14:42 Jeffrey LeValley

That song was 1984, and we were in communion service.

00:14:48 Jeffrey LeValley

And the spirit was high.

00:14:50 Jeffrey LeValley

The church was lit on Fire.

00:14:52 Jeffrey LeValley

Everybody was coming, and Bishop left the podium.

00:14:57 Jeffrey LeValley

Pull Pin, and he comes over to the organ with his Bible open, and he slams the Bible down on the organ and says, sing this.

00:15:09 Jeffrey LeValley

And I looked a little, I said, excuse me.

00:15:12 Jeffrey LeValley

And he said sing this, and he turned around and walked away.

00:15:19 Jeffrey LeValley

Well, everybody that knows me knows that I don't sing. I ask for something I don't do. I can teach others how, but I'm not a singer.

00:15:29 Jeffrey LeValley

So I was sitting there, and I just started praying.

00:15:32 Jeffrey LeValley

I said Lord, my pastor just asked me.

00:15:34 Jeffrey LeValley

To do something here.

00:15:35 Jeffrey LeValley

You gotta help me, so I started singing that Bible verse that was turned to revelation and 19 and one.

00:15:42 Jeffrey LeValley

I started singing that verse with the first melody I had, and we just sang that one verse over and over and over and over.

00:15:52 Jeffrey LeValley

And Friday, the choir caught it, and when the choir card in the audience card in 45 minutes, that one verse, I think this is it. Nothing is ever going to happen.

00:16:02 Jeffrey LeValley

Because I'm not gonna even remember it after tonight.

00:16:05 Jeffrey LeValley

Well, the guys in the media room who never take communion service took the communion service that night, and we were preparing for a recording that was coming up on his eyes on the Sparrow album, and I needed it.

00:16:21 Jeffrey LeValley

A seven-minute cut to fill out one side of the project 'cause you had to have 24 minutes on the side, and we were like at 16 and a half 17.

00:16:29 Jeffrey LeValley

So I needed 70 minutes, so I put together the little desk, put together the second part of the course, and taught it to the choir.

00:16:38 Jeffrey LeValley

They got it, no problem.

00:16:39 Jeffrey LeValley

But then I ended up with only.

00:16:41 Jeffrey LeValley

Three minutes so I asked Bishop if we were doing the narration in the center.

00:16:45 Jeffrey LeValley

Sure, the rest of his history.

00:16:47 Arthur A. Busch

Jeff, you explained that after you had all this recorded, you had three minutes left, and you asked Pastor Floyd to participate in recording this album.

00:16:58 Jeffrey LeValley

I asked him if he didn't mind adding narration to it.

00:17:03 Jeffrey LeValley

I asked him if he would help us stretch the time out to get to the needed seven minutes.

00:17:10 Jeffrey LeValley

He said, sure, I'll come up with something, and he came here with the perfect amount when we finished mixing and editing the two we were down.

00:17:18 Jeffrey LeValley

To 7 minutes exactly, so it worked out well and so.

00:17:24 Jeffrey LeValley

I thought I was well received on the record, so I was kind of faded after seeing that all of a sudden there's this big explosion on Revelation 19, and one re-recording people are singing it everywhere, and I'm like, OK, well, I'm sorry.

00:17:44 Jeffrey LeValley

Then the next thing I know, my niece calls me on the phone, and she's.

00:17:48 Jeffrey LeValley

Says Kanye West that your song on this record, and I said, yeah, yeah, right, and I hung up on him 'cause I didn't believe.

00:17:55 Jeffrey LeValley

She and a local musician here, Jamal Branford, who worked at one time for a channel ABC 12, called me and said, Man, I just heard this song by Kanye West that includes a sample of your tune.

00:18:08 Jeffrey LeValley

And that's how I even sound.

00:18:10 Jeffrey LeValley

Now that he had picked it up, he had been singing it during his Sunday morning services across the country, and he had to be introduced to it by Jason White from LA.

00:18:22 Jeffrey LeValley

And I was grateful for that.

00:18:24 Jeffrey LeValley

But then they turned around and recorded the whole song.

00:18:28 Jeffrey LeValley

It's been.

00:18:29 Jeffrey LeValley

It's been an experience.

00:18:30 Jeffrey LeValley

It's been an honor.

00:18:31 Jeffrey LeValley

It is.

00:18:32 Arthur A. Busch

Now, did you get a chance to meet him?

00:18:34 Jeffrey LeValley

I never met him, never talked with him, never had a conversation with his business.

00:18:39 Jeffrey LeValley

People have no idea, you know, I did get the royalty check which I'm grateful for. People ask me that all the time.

00:18:48 Jeffrey LeValley

Well, have you met him?

00:18:49 Jeffrey LeValley

Have you talked to him?

00:18:50 Jeffrey LeValley

Not in one conversation?

00:18:52 Jeffrey LeValley

Well, he's from Chicago.

00:18:54 Jeffrey LeValley

Being home with gospel music.

00:18:56 Jeffrey LeValley

So I could.

00:18:57 Jeffrey LeValley

I could imagine him being part of that community at one time.

00:19:01 Jeffrey LeValley

One of his.

00:19:01 Jeffrey LeValley

In videos, he turns the camera toward the chance to rap.

00:19:06 Arthur A. Busch

Chance the Rapper.

00:19:07 Jeffrey LeValley

Yeah, and Chance the Rapper is standing there singing.

00:19:10 Jeffrey LeValley

Revelation 19 and one and I'm.

00:19:12 Jeffrey LeValley

Like are you kidding me?

00:19:14 Jeffrey LeValley

This whole thing has just been.

00:19:15 Jeffrey LeValley

More than I could ever imagine.

00:19:18 Arthur A. Busch

But you've traveled extensively in the United States and have been invited to participate with other choirs you were involved with. A choir of 5000 people.

00:19:29 Jeffrey LeValley

Yes, that was in Atlanta, Georgia.

00:19:32 Jeffrey LeValley

The Old Georgia Dome.

00:19:34 Jeffrey LeValley

It was at a festival.

00:19:36 Jeffrey LeValley

The Reverend Milton Bigham from Savoy Records was in charge of the choir, a 5000-voice choir. He asked James Perry, who was his local church musician, and I, who would handle the instruments for that occasion, and Peabo Bryson was the guest vocalist for that concert.

00:19:55 Arthur A. Busch

Is there any connection between some of the musicians in your church and some other churches across the nation with jazz?

00:20:02 Jeffrey LeValley

So, my organist Joanne Thorn, though he plays gospel.

00:20:08 Jeffrey LeValley

He also plays jazz.

00:20:10 Jeffrey LeValley

You got Roger Jones, the second Bishop Jones, the son who plays jazz, but he's also a church organist, so there is various jazz connections here.

00:20:18 Arthur A. Busch

The connection between your music and your faith is right there, right?

00:20:24 Arthur A. Busch

It's sum and substance of it.

00:20:26 Jeffrey LeValley

I was brought up in the church I was raised in the church.

00:20:30 Jeffrey LeValley

All I ever knew was church.

00:20:33 Jeffrey LeValley

I've been directing choirs and playing since I was five, so that's all I ever knew, and somehow, my faith and music worked together.

00:20:44 Jeffrey LeValley

It's what I, my faith is what I believe.

00:20:47 Jeffrey LeValley

My faith keeps me going, and it's the music, my music, and my songs that come from what I believe and have been taught.

00:20:56 Jeffrey LeValley

I believe in the word of God.

00:20:58 Jeffrey LeValley

I believe in the Bible.

00:20:59 Jeffrey LeValley

I believe what it says.

00:21:00 Jeffrey LeValley

So my music comes out of that.

00:21:05 Arthur A. Busch

When you get involved in these projects in other communities or even in Flint, is there a process you usually go through before you accept your involvement in it?

00:21:17 Jeffrey LeValley

Well, most of the time, if people ask me to do things, as always, an honor for me, I try to find out exactly what they want me to do in my production.

00:21:27 Jeffrey LeValley

Do you just want me to play?

00:21:29 Jeffrey LeValley

You want me to compose?

00:21:30 Jeffrey LeValley

You want me to arrange it.

00:21:31 Jeffrey LeValley

I mean, what exactly are my boundaries?

00:21:34 Jeffrey LeValley

So I don't over?

00:21:36 Jeffrey LeValley

Step my boundaries, and I'm only going to do what you ask me to do, no more, no less.

00:21:43 Jeffrey LeValley

So we have to decide upfront what I am or what my assignment is in a project.

00:21:49 Jeffrey LeValley

If I'm there to play keys.

00:21:51 Jeffrey LeValley

That's all I'm going to do if I'm there to compose and play, then I'm going to compose, and like I, I only do what you ask me to do upfront.

00:22:00 Arthur A. Busch

As you travel around in the music business, and you have for a number of years, what do people ask you most about Flint?

00:22:08 Jeffrey LeValley

Lately, it's been the water crisis.

00:22:10 Jeffrey LeValley

Before that, it was how far it's Flint from Detroit, you know, do you go to Detroit often for everything I need here in Flint?

00:22:20 Jeffrey LeValley

I love this place, but now the last few years, it's been the water crisis that takes first and foremost in people's minds.

00:22:30 Jeffrey LeValley

You'd be surprised.

00:22:31 Jeffrey LeValley

Many people didn't realize that it was as bad as it was.

00:22:35 Jeffrey LeValley

Now, the repercussions that a lot of us had to go through with the water crisis.

00:22:40 Jeffrey LeValley

Some people thought it just wasn't true until you tell them where you show them what's going on.

00:22:46 Jeffrey LeValley

So lately, it's been the water crisis before that.

00:22:50 Jeffrey LeValley

Well, how far are we?

00:22:51 Jeffrey LeValley

From the chart.

00:22:52 Jeffrey LeValley

Or what's General Motors doing in your town?

00:22:54 Jeffrey LeValley

Well, nothing.

00:22:55 Jeffrey LeValley

So it was it's.

00:22:56 Jeffrey LeValley

Always been that type of thing.

00:22:58 Arthur A. Busch

How were you affected by the water crisis?

00:23:02 Jeffrey LeValley

I went to work that morning after taking my shower and getting dressed, and I came home, and all my water was brown, but it was like that for two or three days before it finally turned the nice color of beige.

00:23:16 Jeffrey LeValley

I didn't suffer any.

00:23:19 Jeffrey LeValley

Physical damage I did have some damage inside some pipelines and washing machine.

00:23:26 Jeffrey LeValley

Even now, I still won't drink water out of my faucet.

00:23:30 Jeffrey LeValley

Running water from the sink.

00:23:31 Jeffrey LeValley

I drink bottled water.

00:23:33 Jeffrey LeValley

I know it's crazy, but it's the thing that even with the filters, I still don't trust the water.

00:23:39 Jeffrey LeValley

Maybe it's just a phobia, maybe something I'll grow out of after a while, but right now, I don't.

00:23:47 Arthur A. Busch

Do you trust the government that brought it?

00:23:49 Arthur A. Busch

You that water?

00:23:51 Jeffrey LeValley

I'm very skeptical now of the different governments I know.

00:23:57 Jeffrey LeValley

That it happened so fast that.

00:23:59 Jeffrey LeValley

They didn't even test the water. They just did it looking to save money when they ended up spending more money than they would have had they left the original source where it was.

00:24:12 Jeffrey LeValley

I do have skepticism.

00:24:15 Arthur A. Busch

The fact that we've lost so many people.

00:24:18 Arthur A. Busch

Consequently, they have become unemployed, lost their job, or moved away.

00:24:23 Arthur A. Busch

How has that impacted the church, and how do you try to impact the people affected by this?

00:24:31 Jeffrey LeValley

A lot of the churches have lost a lot of people that have moved away or have become discouraged because of what's happening with the plants or whatever the case may be, and a lot of people just stop going to church because they just gave up my job.

00:24:52 Jeffrey LeValley

As a songwriter.

00:24:53 Jeffrey LeValley

It is to give people a little hope. That's what I'm through.

00:24:58 Jeffrey LeValley

That's what I try to do.

00:24:59 Jeffrey LeValley

In the stuff that I write, I try to give people hope, and even in giving them hope, I try to give myself hope because if you allow yourself to become discouraged to the point where you're ready to quit, or you're ready to leave.

00:25:14 Jeffrey LeValley

You may find yourself in a worse situation than you when you're leaving, so my job as a songwriter is to encourage people, and give them hope, strength, and death.

00:25:26 Jeffrey LeValley

A little bit to say OK, well yeah, I can go through this I.

00:25:29 Jeffrey LeValley

I can make it.

00:25:30 Jeffrey LeValley

Through this I.

00:25:31 Jeffrey LeValley

Have to make the decision that I'm gonna be OK.

00:25:35 Arthur A. Busch

Throughout this water crisis, you put so much passion into your work.

00:25:40 Arthur A. Busch

It's sort of the old saying when the going gets tough, the tough kick going.

00:25:45 Jeffrey LeValley

Yeah, yeah, that's that's that.

00:25:47 Jeffrey LeValley

That's a true statement.

00:25:48 Jeffrey LeValley

You have a choice you can.

00:25:52 Jeffrey LeValley

We'll do it.

00:25:54 Jeffrey LeValley

Or you can allow it to destroy you.

00:25:57 Jeffrey LeValley

I refuse to be destroyed.

00:26:00 Jeffrey LeValley

I'm here for a reason, and I'm gonna follow that through. Whatever God has for me is for me.

00:26:07 Arthur A. Busch

And it's in Flint.

00:26:08 Jeffrey LeValley

Yeah, it's right here in the city limits.

00:26:11 Jeffrey LeValley

I've had offers to move.

00:26:13 Jeffrey LeValley

I had offers that have been more lucrative to move, especially to the DC area.

00:26:18 Jeffrey LeValley

I love DC, but I believe I'm here in Flint for a reason.

00:26:24 Jeffrey LeValley

There's a reason that I'm even still at new rules, and I've been here.

00:26:28 Jeffrey LeValley

Since 1970.

00:26:29 Jeffrey LeValley

22 at this church. So I believe that there is a reason for my being here. There I look at it as a season, and who knows how long a season is when this season is over. I don't know where I'm headed, but until this season is over, I'm gonna be right here.

00:26:46 Arthur A. Busch

Having big accomplishments later in your life, how does that affect you?

00:26:52 Arthur A. Busch

I mean, do people recognize this?

00:26:54 Arthur A. Busch

You're a guy walking around Flint, the streets of Flint, MI.

00:26:57 Arthur A. Busch

Who's a Grammy winner?

00:26:59 Arthur A. Busch

A BMI awardee for your legacy.

00:27:03 Arthur A. Busch

How does that wear with the public?

00:27:05 Jeffrey LeValley

Some know, some don't know.

00:27:07 Jeffrey LeValley

For me, it's humbling.

00:27:10 Jeffrey LeValley

It's a humbling experience to know that at 68 years old, I'm recognized for work I did 30 years ago.

00:27:20 Jeffrey LeValley

It's humbling to know that somebody is still listening to my music today.

00:27:26 Jeffrey LeValley

It's very humbling.

00:27:27 Jeffrey LeValley

I'm so I'm, I'm just.

00:27:30 Jeffrey LeValley

An average guy?

00:27:32 Jeffrey LeValley

That does what he does, loves what he's.

00:27:35 Jeffrey LeValley

And whether did people know of what I've done over the accomplishments that have taken place within the last couple of years?

00:27:41 Jeffrey LeValley

It's OK. It doesn't bother me.

00:27:43 Jeffrey LeValley

I'm happy.

00:27:44 Arthur A. Busch

And you're still making music.

00:27:46 Jeffrey LeValley

Yes, Sir, I'm still making music.

00:27:49 Arthur A. Busch

Jeffrey Valley, let me ask you one last question.

00:27:52 Arthur A. Busch

Are you a flintstone?

00:27:55 Arthur A. Busch

What does that mean to you?

00:27:57 Arthur A. Busch

What does it mean to be a flintstone?

00:28:00 Jeffrey LeValley

A Flint is a hard substance. When you talk about Flint, you can start a fire with Flint.

00:28:10 Jeffrey LeValley

It's a hard stuff list with a heart that can stand up against on its own and Flint to me.

00:28:17 Jeffrey LeValley

You know, with all that fit.

00:28:19 Jeffrey LeValley

It's been through with the loss of General Motors, and with the water crisis, we're still standing.

00:28:26 Jeffrey LeValley

We've been through a lot, but we're still here. No, I was not born here.

00:28:32 Jeffrey LeValley

I was born in Milwaukee, but I spent most of my life in the city of Flint, and I love, I repeat, love this city.

00:28:42 Jeffrey LeValley

I think it's a wonderful place to live.

00:28:45 Jeffrey LeValley

It's a wonderful place.

00:28:46 Jeffrey LeValley

To raise a family, it's a wonderful place to make friends.

00:28:49 Jeffrey LeValley

It's a wonderful place to become involved in the arts and do whatever you want to do.

00:28:56 Jeffrey LeValley

You don't have to leave Flint. You should do it right here.

00:29:00 Jeffrey LeValley

It's a wonderful place.

00:29:02 Arthur A. Busch

Jeffrey Valley, thank you for joining me on radio free Flint.

00:29:05 Arthur A. Busch

It is an honor to have you as my guest, and I wish you many more Grammys and many more years of making music.