Gwinnett teacher lights up gospel charts with “Fill Me Up”

Casey J has been called one of the most promising singers on the gospel music scene.

She currently holds spots on multiple Billboard charts, including the No. 2 spot on Billboard’s Hot Gospel Songs, with the soulful “Fill Me Up.”

To her elementary school students, however, she’s simply known as Ms. Hobbs.

“Some may have heard [the song] but they probably haven’t made the connection,” said Casey J, aka Casey J. Hobbs.

If her album follows the single on the charts that may not be for long.

Her performance of the song, penned by Will Reagan, who also wrote Tasha Cobbs’ hit “Break Every Chain,” has received more than 540,000 views on YouTube.

And this spring, Casey J, 28, of Suwanee, will release her freshman CD project, “The Truth,” on Tyscot Records. It was recorded recently at Fresh Start Church in Duluth, where she is a member and also serves as worship leader.

The CD will include 12 tracks, four of which she wrote and one she co-wrote. It also features Stellar Award winner Jason Nelson. During the recording session, Casey J shared stories about her 84-year-old grandmother, Dorothy Mae Choates, teaching her hymns and holding revival meetings in the basement of Choates’ home. She brought her on stage to sing, “”No, Not One!” with her, which will be included in the CD.

Darlene McCoy, host of the Darlene McCoy Show on Praise 102.5 has known Casey J for years and describes the young singer’s work as “honest and transparent worship.” McCoy was on hand as Casey J recorded the CD project and calls it incredible. “You can tell this is not entertainment,” McCoy said. “For her, it’s ministry. She means everything she sings.”

Casey J’s talent is evident “in the way the gospel industry has received a total unknown person,” said McCoy. “It’s like she came out of nowhere.”

Like many singers, Casey J cut her vocal teeth in church.

Although she loves teaching, Casey J discovered her passion for music as a little girl in the choir at Lilly Hill Baptist Church in Decatur, where her mother served as choir director and her grandmother sang in the choir.

Later, at the age of 12, she joined the Atlanta Young Singers of Callanwolde and sang with them until she enrolled at the University of Georgia. Eventually, she became part of the gospel girl group 4LOVE.

Singing became like a “language unto itself.”

“I enjoy having a way to communicate with God, for him to communicate with me and to communicate for God with other people.”

Music began playing a larger role in her life several months ago when, while driving to her previous teaching job, she got a strong message that God was calling her to do more with her music ministry. “I was serving him, but I heard him saying ‘I want you to do more.’ ”

She prayed to God to tell her what he wanted and she would do it.

Things started falling into place. She landed a new teaching job with a virtual charter school that allowed her to devote more time to her music ministry. And she moved to Suwanee, which is closer to her church.

She wants her sound to be “imperfect” not overproduced.

“I want it to be the kind of worship people can have in their cars and in their homes,” she said. “There are amazing artists in the gospel industry who can sing. They are extremely technically skilled and spiritually proficient. That’s not necessarily what I’m called to do. I’m called to sing something you can sing. Whether you’re the best singer doesn’t matter. I think I sing alright and singing is something I’ve done a lot of.”

Take a listen to Casey J.