The 700 Club with Pat Robertson


Best-selling music artist

Gospel song, Never Would Have Made It, ranked #1 on USA Today's airplay chart for 39 weeks.

Founding Pastor, The Lighthouse Full Life Center Church (2003)

Married to Malinda, 3 children

guest bio

Marvin Sapp 'Never Would Have Made It'

By Heather Salon

In July 2008, USA Today said Marvin Sapp “has turned personal pain into the biggest crossover hit of his career.” They were talking about his anthem praising God for helping him through difficult times, Never Would Have Made It.  After being in evangelistic and music ministry most of his life and releasing seven albums, Marvin was very grateful for the surprise hit. 

Marvin grew up in a Christian home and started singing in church at age four. Singing came naturally; his father was a musician and quartet singer from Ft. Myers, Fla. Of his four brothers, Marvin said he was the shortest and the only one who really was a singer.  He was 10-years-old when his parents divorced, but music stayed in his life.

Marvin’s mother, Lodena Holyfield, was never a singer, but he said she “taught me all the songs.” One of his favorite songs was In the Garden.

His talent was recognized early. But wisely, when he was 10-years-young, his mother challenged him on where his heart was; did he want to sing for the Lord or sing for the world? 

“I chose to sing in the church, and have never regretted it,” Marvin said. 

In the late ‘80s, Marvin lived a busy life and traveled as a full-time evangelist and directed choirs. Some time later, Grammy-winner, Fred Hammond, heard of Marvin’s ministry and called him to ask if he would join his group, Commissioned. This was a big decision for 23-year-old Marvin. 

“I prayed for six months,” Marvin said. He eventually moved from Grand Rapids to Detroit to join the group in the early ‘90s. He married Malinda in 1992. Marvin said he was happy and content before he joined Commissioned, and was even more blessed with the opportunity. After six years with the group, and by then married to Malinda, Marvin sensed it was time to move out as a solo artist and released his first CD, Thirsty


Within a three-month period, Marvin lost three men who were pillars in his life – his father, his musical mentor, and his spiritual father. Never Would Have Made It came to him in 2007, as he was grieving his father, Henry Lewis Sapp, Jr., who he’d buried days before. His spiritual father passed away two days before the recording. During a church service a week after he had buried his father, Marvin didn’t think he would be able to preach, when the inspiration hit him and he started singing. 

“I started singing, Never would have made it, never could have made it without you, I would have lost my mind.’ The Lord told me that He would always be there for me,” Marvin said. 

Marvin’s chart-topping song Never Would Have Made It, was not intended to be on his CD, but was added impromptu at a recording session. The CD, Thirsty, is gold certified and has stayed on the USA Today airplay charts for 39 weeks, and an urban adult contemporary success, peaking at number two. Stations are compelled to play the song because listeners request it. Because everyone has had such moments, people can connect with what we are sharing, Marvin says.

Though he’s achieved recording success, Marvin says he is really a preacher who happens to sing. Starting with 24 members, he and Malinda founded The Light of Life Church in 2003, which today has 1600 members. They’ve just purchased a sizable property to expand their ministry. Marvin says he loves pastoring because he can reach out and touch lives in a special way, especially to really lift young people in urban communities. He sees his successful music as an extension of his church ministry. 

In the fall of 2008, Marvin will begin a 35-city, Never Would Have Made It tour.

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