n 1995, Israel and Meleasa Houghton along with long-time friend Aaron Lindsay founded New Breed Ministries, an organization comprised of noted musicians and singers who serve within their respective churches and together serve the Church at large.

With a desire to draw people of all races, ages and cultures together through worship, Israel and New Breed began melding sounds and songs to create music that breaks down barriers and defies categorization. Not an easy task you might think. But, it seems effortless for Israel who laughingly describes himself as “black kid who grew up in a white family in a Hispanic neighborhood.”

Together with the vocalists and musicians of New Breed, Israel uses his own multi-cultural upbringing as a reference point.

“…It’s not a white sound or black sound, it’s a Kingdom sound,” explains the songwriter and producer.

Although their popularity has been growing steadily since the group’s inception, 2004 and 2005 seemed to catapult them into the limelight. The group released their ground-breaking and gold-certified CD Live From Another Level last year, garnering a coveted GRAMMY Award nomination for Contemporary Soul Gospel Album. This February, the group took home two Stellar Awards for CD of the Year and Male Vocalist of the Year and a Soul Train Award for Best Gospel Album. Then, in April, Israel and New Breed won two Dove Awards for Contemporary Gospel Album and Contemporary Gospel Song at the 36th Annual GMA Music Awards. They also made numerous appearances at high visibility events including a performance at the Stellar Awards by the group and a hosting role at the GMA Music Awards for Israel. Additional TV appearances included BET’s “Lift Every Voice,” TBN’s “Praise The Lord” and CBN’s “The 700 Club.”

All the while, this dedicated group of ministers continues to tour extensively and to serve at their local churches. (Israel is a guest worship leader at Houston’s Lakewood Church, home of the popular preacher/author Joel Osteen.)

You might think that with a schedule this packed and year full of success, Israel and New Breed would be happy to set back and relax for while. Not so. The group recently embarked on a new adventure, recording a live CD in Cape Town, South Africa, for Integrity Gospel. ALIVE in South Africa is a two-disc album featuring over 20 tracks including new songs written by Israel and Aaron. Provident-Integrity Distribution and Epic/Sony-BMG will release the album for worldwide distribution in October with a live DVD to follow.

And, being “road warriors” at heart, the group will head back out for a fall tour that includes concerts with Gospel favorite Yolanda Adams.

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