In April 1998, God gave James Fortune the vision to start a youth ministry to focus on reaching youth through song and dance. Known today as Youth For Christ (YFC), it ministers throughout Greater Houston, Texas at churches,workshops, youth events and conferences. James Fortune and YFC’s ministry touched thousands of youth and garnered statewide attention for their high-energy unorthodox anointed performances that showed youth praising God was exciting and life fulfilling.
Since the beginning, James Fortune’s ministry centered on young people’s life struggles of peer pressure, drug addiction, fornication, club hopping and all other acts of ungodliness. James expresses “The youth of today must realize that true happiness and fullness of joy is only found in the presence of Yahweh, our Heavenly Father.”
Mid year in 2000, Yahweh led Fortune to change the group’s name to James Fortune & FIYA (Free in Yahweh’s Abundance). James believes “Our Fathers’ will is not for His children to live a defeated and broken life full of uncertainty and anxiety. Yahweh has promised us that blessings would overtake us if we fully obey His Word.”
James Fortune & FIYA released their debut album, entitled You Survived! in 2005. The group’s single, “You Survived,” garnered national attention, climbed the R&R Gospel charts, and exposed James Fortune’s stylistic songwriting expertise. “You Survived” soared to No. 2 on R&R Gospel Charts, No. 5 on Billboard Radio Charts, and celebrated as the No. 7 most played Gospel Song for 2005.
Because of the message embodied in You Survived, James Fortune was honored at the 19th Annual ASCAP Rhythm & Soul Music Awards and received the 2006 ASCAP Writer’s Award for Gospel Song of the Year. This was a notable and rare honor for a newcomer to thegospel music industry, but an honor James believes was given from God and recalls the lyrics of the single “After all that you’ve been through, now you know God carried you through the rain and the pain, you called and he came, you survived!” That same year James Fortune showcased on the One Church Tour where he shared the platform with renowned gospel artistsKurt Carr, Vicki Yohe, RIZEN and Smokie Norful.
James Fortune and FIYA’s highly anticipated sophomore album, The Transformation was released in March of 2007. The first single, The Blood, which is a tribute to gospel great Andre Crouch, was the number one added gospel song to the national airplay list in April of 2007 and peaked at #14 on the gospel radio charts.
“I Trust You” was the #1 song on the R&R Gospel charts for 10 weeks after climbing the charts for 26 weeks overtaking the six-month reign of the single “Never Would Have Made It” by Marvin Sapp.
Co-written by James Fortune and Terence Vaughn, James’s next album, “I Trust You” was released in May of 2009. Named the GOSPEL SONG OF THE YEAR at the 22nd Annual American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers Awards, the album topped Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs chart for a historic 29 weeks, and claimed the title of the longest running #1 Gospel single.
In his “slow time” James constantly writes ballads and Sunday morning worship songs, collaborates with stellar producers and songwriters, and creates music complete with life transforming principles.
James Fortune & FIYA have also open for celebrated artists such as Stevie Wonder, John P. Kee, Kim Burrell, Fred Hammond and several others in addition to being nominated four years in a row for the Texas Gospel Youth & Young Adult Choir of the Year.
“I think my music is a ministry of edification to lift people up and let them know that no matter how bad it looks on the outside, they can make it through.” James concludes, “God can lift them up out of any situation”