David Ritz learned about Christianity through black music. As a teen, his love for jazz led him to R&B and then gospel. As a music journalist and ghostwriter, he wrote and co-wrote acclaimed biographies of Ray Charles, Marvin Gaye, and Aretha Franklin, whose sound was rooted in the African American church.

In his 60s, Ritz, who is Jewish, opened his heart to the Savior whose voice he had heard in the songs he loved. Messengers is his tribute to contemporary musicians, artists, and ministers who have encouraged him during his journey. Twenty-five ministers from diverse backgrounds and a continuum of conservative and liberal theological perspectives share their own moments of transformation—one from a shy girl to a powerful preacher, another from a life based on legalism to one rooted in grace—in a series of poetic, lyrical vignettes. Though several of Ritz's subjects are high-profile ministers and well-known gospel singers, others are ordinary people whose spheres of influence are primarily local or denominational. All share deeply powerful stories.

Photographer Nicola Goode captures each subject in evocative portraits that make Messengers part elegant coffee-table volume, part satisfying testimony service.

Related Elsewhere:

Also posted today is an interview with author David Ritz.

Messengers: Portraits of African American Ministers, Evangelists, Gospel Singers, and Other Messengers of 'the Word' is available from Christianbook.com and other book retailers.

More information is available from Doubleday, including an excerpt.

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