Bridgeport’s J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise drop new gospel LP

At one time or another, everyone goes through hard times.

But singer J.J. Hairston wants to remind everyone that no matter how bad things become, “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.”

“Sometimes, we focus so much on what we’re going through that we fail to see the light at the end,” Hairston said, referring to the inspiration for his new album with Bridgeport-based gospel choir, Youthful Praise. “That light indicates that there is an end to the tunnel. Therefore, we won’t be in the tunnel or dark situation forever. And when we come out, we’ll rejoice in joy and victory because we came out of the dark place and made it to the other side. It’s a song of hope.”

The sixth record from Hairston and YP, which is headquartered at Cathedral of Praise (formerly Turner’s Faith Temple) in Bridgeport, “After This” (Light Records/eOne) features 11 new high-energy tracks from the acclaimed gospel choir, along with appearances from New Jersey multi-instrumentalist Tye Tribbett and Grammy-winning gospel artist Bishop Hezekiah Walker.

The follow-up to 2007’s “Exalted” and 2009’s “Resting On His Promise,” “After This” is a “heavier gospel album than the last two,” with “hints of rock and pop, and a little R&B as well,” Hairston said in an email.

The first single from the album, “After This,” recently cracked the top 15 of the Billboard Gospel chart (listen to the track below).

Hairston & Youthful Praise have made TV appearances on “Late Night with Conan O’Brien,” The Stellar Awards, and “Bobby Jones Gospel,” and have performed alongside Joan Osborne, Shirley Caesar and Destiny’s Child.

The group returns to Connecticut for an evening concert on Saturday, April 21 at the First Cathedral Church in Bloomfield, which also is where “After This” was recorded.

Scott Gargan