Acclaimed singer/songwriter and worship leader Stephen McWhirter and Grammy and Stellar-nominated recording artist Jason Clayborn have joined forces for “Highest Praise,” a celebration of soul-drenched worship bowing Oct. 8 from Lula Street Records (Integrity Music). The nine-track live studio set pairs the duo’s impassioned lead vocals with classic rock, Motown, gospel, and contemporary worship moments.
Produced and co-written by McWhirter, “Highest Praise” also features eight selections co-penned by Clayborn. The title cut – a Stevie Wonder-meets-Humble Pie groove – is called “a joyful anthem crossing cultural and musical divides in unified worship.” Additional highlights of “Highest Praise” include the Motown slow-burner “God Be Yourself,” a prayer which clings to God’s character even in the most difficult circumstances; the modern worship declaration of “Let There Be Love”; and “The Yes Song,” a resounding testament to the promises of God.
“First and foremost, we are friends and we love working together, but we also wanted to create music that bridged the gap between gospel and contemporary worship in a way that honors what both cultures bring to the table,” McWhirter explains of the motivation behind “Highest Praise.” “Ultimately, this is our attempt at what Jesus prayed in John 17:21, ‘that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.' "
Clayborn adds, “I think this is what the kingdom really looks and sounds like when you bring two different cultures together. We are allowing ourselves to be who we are and we’re not trying to change each other. I believe this is what the church is supposed to be about, and I hope people will find genuine joy and praise in every track on this album. I pray there would be a gravitational pull towards Christ when others listen to these songs.”
“Highest Praise” follows the duo’s debut collaboration, McWhirter’s 2020 “Choir Sessions” (feat. Jason Clayborn & The Atmosphere Changers). McWhirter and Clayborn also wrote and recorded the Christmas anthem “Born A King,” a single featured in last year’s Christmas special for the blockbuster television series “The Chosen.”
McWhirter is a touring worship leader, producer, speaker and author whose testimony of divine deliverance from addiction is the cornerstone of his ministry platform. A founding member of the former worship collective Iron Bell Music, he is also a songwriter with Essential Music Publishing/Sony PLG and a Lula Street (Integrity Music) recording artist.
Tyscot recording artist Clayborn is a Grammy and Stellar nominee and former member of the renowned hip-hop/gospel group The Righteous Riders. He has also toured around the world with numerous artists, including Dr. Ron Kenoly. Most recently, Clayborn and his choir, The Atmosphere Changers, performed at the 2021 Stellar Awards alongside the legendary Bishop Hezekiah Walker.