It took crossing the country for Kevin Ferris to realize the happiness and fulfillment he thought he lacked was exactly where he left it — at home.
Ferris is now back, close to the Severna Park community of Chartwood where he grew up and his parents still live. He hopes to pursue and grow his musical ambitions of being a gospel rapper. Ferris plans to have three new singles out by June 1 in anticipation of self-releasing an album later this year.
Although Ferris was described as a typical Severna Park kid, he never quite felt settled. After graduating from Severna Park High School, he did what he thought he was supposed to do and enrolled at the University of South Florida to study business. Not admitting it then, Ferris wasn’t completely comfortable with his chosen educational track and found himself adrift.
During his first winter break, he returned to Severna Park and attended church services with his parents, like he had done hundreds of times before. This time, the music hit different.
“For the first time in my life, I am singing the words of the worship songs and I had an overwhelming feeling, but I didn’t know what was happening,” Ferris recalled. “The way I heard music was different. Before I would listen to songs, but I wouldn’t hear lyrics. Suddenly I was absorbing every word. And it wasn’t just at church.”
With his musical palette enhanced, Ferris felt drawn to hip-hop and rap music. He studied it. He wrote it. He performed it. Some early influences for him were the late rapper Tupac Shakur and Macklemore.
Ferris discovered the lyrical style of Christian rap resonated with him. Although he always had a seed of faith, Ferris said he was too vulnerable to peer pressure and felt he needed to follow in the footsteps of his siblings, a brother who was a jock and a popular sister.
Much to his parents’ concern, Ferris changed his major from business to theater. He withdrew from his fraternity. He had a hunch he might be interested in acting, so he took classes and entered talent shows. Eventually, he applied for enrollment at the American Musical and Dramatic Academy in Los Angeles.
“His voice projects well and I could see that he had stage presence,” said his mother, Sue Ferris. “He was a leader amongst his friends. I encouraged him to perform at a very early age.”
He worked hard and his acting got better, his stage presence blossomed, and he self-released some songs in 2014 with a theme centered around the story of his journey to Los Angeles.
While in California, Ferris worked odd jobs to make ends meet. It wasn’t easy, though. He was delivering pizza one day and met a mentally ill elderly woman who needed help. Ferris moved into her guest house to assist, but she had a mental breakdown and had visions. Ferris said that experience helped him grow closer to God. A friend who was an addict also stole from him. The pair came to blows and Ferris never saw that friend again.
With no acting jobs on the horizon, the then 25-year-old Ferris said God made it clear to him what he needed to do.
“I was in a hurry, impatient, and trying to do too much,” Ferris said. “My songs were too much about me. I heard God say, ‘You’ve been running away from home for seven years. Go honor your mother and father.’ I had never heard anything so clearly in 25 years.”
Ferris packed up his bags to make his journey back east. He finished college and reconnected with his music producer to share the songs he’d been working on. The pandemic offered the solitude to start working on an album with the support and encouragement of his wife, Tishia Dixon.
He currently works on music from his mini studio in his Pasadena home. Ferris handles lyrics and vocals before they are mixed by a producer.
Ferris has dropped some singles recently from his upcoming self-released album, which is slated to be titled “Near-Sighted.”
The current home loan officer and rapper, who has now completed advanced religious studies at Liberty University, hopes to one day have his own church where he can grace the congregation with his hip-hop evangelism.
“Whether he is preaching, rapping or leading groups, Kevin always honors God first,” said Chris Beatty, lead pastor at the Baltimore-based Hope Springs Church.
Ferris’ singles are available on most streaming platforms.
“I’m just trying to share God’s message of love and mercy to people who may not have heard it before, or who may not have heard it through this type of music,” Ferris said.
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