CHICAGO -- The Dove Awards have honored excellence in gospel music for more than 40 years. This year is extra special for Jonathan McReynolds, a nominee from Chicago.
McReynolds said he was on the road to becoming a meteorologist, with no plans on "singing in church, ever, ever."
Success is still a sweet surprise for the singer and song writer who grew up only feet away from his church in Chicago. New Original Church of God in Christ is where his musical mom pushed him to use his talent.
"I played the drums when I was young. I moved to the organ," he recalled. "I was perfectly fine. I was a nerd. I wasn't trying to be out in front."
"But you know what," McReynolds smiled as he thought back, "God saw something different."
Most of the songs were written while he was still a student in college. McReynolds self-recorded songs for his friends and family as gifts.
"I was a poor college student and that is what artists do," he chuckled. "It's sentimental. It's the thought that counts."
McReynolds wasn't pursuing a recording contract, but it came after a radio DJ heard the songs. The DJ began playing them on the radio, and now McReynolds is center stage singing across the country.
"I woke up and it was almost like I woke up and I became an artist," he said.
Those same songs he recorded back then are earning honors today.
"It seemed like everything preceded me and I am just trying to catch up to it," he shared. "I am trying to elevate my character, elevating my walk with God, trying to elevate my knowledge of God."
His album, entitled "Life Music," debuted at No.3 on the charts. McReynolds said he is amazed at the fact people across the world can hear and identify with his music.
He talked about how the title of the album completely encompasses how the songs can impact him and others.
"Not only did it come from my own life, not only do I want people to listen to all week long when life is hitting, but I also want to encourage people that listen to it to live a whole life for Christ," he explained.
"It is really easy to be a Sunday Christian," he continued. "But God is looking for lifelong Christians."
McReynolds also prays his life will inspire others to see it's possible to rise above circumstances and statistics. Like many children in America, he was raised by a single mother.
When not on the stage McReynolds teaches gospel music and performance to future singers and song writers many of the lessons he learned in life.
He remembered the first song he wrote back in high school, titled "Greatness." He said his mom would say it was prophetic. He shared the lyrics with CBN News.
"It simply said, 'I am headed for greatness and I am going to make it. I am headed for greatness and I am going to make it. I know God has got a great calling on my life. So I need to make it happen, so that He is satisfied,' he said.
"And I wrote that half way through high school," he added. "So God is good. He had a plan all along."