Motown Gospel artist Gene Moore felt as if he was on top of the world. He had recently gotten married to the love of his life. Things were looking up.
Then the trials started. “First, my wife’s car broke down,” Gene explained, “and we were sharing a car for about six months. Then I lost my job due to layoffs and changes in administration. I had to file for unemployment. I started to drive for Uber and Lyft. I told my wife I felt like I was in a dark tunnel and didn’t know how to get out.” Deep in prayer, Gene heard the Lord’s response: tunnel vision.
“Tunnel vision, by definition, means you can’t focus on anything outside of the target in front of you,” Gene said. “If you look around, it feels like the darkness is swallowing you up. So, the only way to get to the light at the end of the tunnel is to keep moving forward. You will eventually see the finish line, which represents hope, which represents Christ.”
Tunnel Vision became the title and the theme of Gene’s second album for Motown Gospel. The album’s first single, “Won’t Be Moved,” was released June 21, 2019, along with a companion video directed by award-winning videographer Derek Blanks.
Brian Sledge, better known as Billboard-charting singer and songwriter BJ the Chicago Kid, wrote the song from a track produced by Cedric “Ced” Smith. “Ced presented the track to me,” Gene said, “and it was very urban. I know my lane when it comes to writing, so I needed somebody else to write to it. BJ and I have known each other for years. I sent BJ the track and he sent it back to me two or three weeks later. As soon as he demoed it for me, I knew that was it.”
A wordplay on the classic spiritual “I Shall Not be Moved,” “Won’t Be Moved” is about not letting the tribulations of life get the better of you. “I want ‘Won’t Be Moved’ to become the next catch phrase,” Gene said. “‘I had a bad day, but I won’t be moved.’ ‘My coworker is trying my patience, but I won’t be moved.’ ‘I’m having money issues, but I won’t be moved.’ I want people to see the salvation of the Lord.”
The other eight songs on Tunnel Vision also contain pearls of wisdom to accompany listeners on their faith walk. “My objective in putting out Tunnel Vision,” Gene said, “is for people’s faith to be strengthened, their hope restored, and their dreams renewed.”
Like many of his peers in gospel music, Gene Moore grew up a “PK,” or pastor’s kid. His father, the Reverend Gene A. Moore Sr., is pastor of March of Faith Community Church in Pearland, Texas, outside Houston. But unlike many of his peers, Gene didn’t discover his true passion for music until adulthood. His first public solo at March of Faith didn’t happen until he was around fifteen. He considered music “a hobby, something fun to do.”
Still, at age seventeen, Gene’s vocal proclivities landed him a spot in the Southeast Inspirational Choir. Founded by Shirley Joiner and Carl Preacher, Southeast Inspirational was the launching pad for gospel star Yolanda Adams. Gene considers the choir his launch pad, also, and Joiner and Preacher his informal music mentors. “They taught me to understand what I am singing about, to connect with the lyrics,” Gene reflected, “because if the words are not believable to me, they won’t be believable to anybody else.”
From there, Gene pursued a career in journalism, graduating from Sam Houston State University with a bachelor’s degree in radio and television and a minor in advertising. He started out as a gospel announcer at KWWJ Gospel 1360 AM, then transitioned to spinning Contemporary Christian Music at 89.3 KSBJ-FM. But as much as he loved radio, it felt more like a job than a passion. Though he can’t name the day or hour when it happened, he came to the realization that music was what he really wanted to do.
Deciding to keep his day job “until the music started working for me,” Gene sang part-time, following the journey wherever it led. That included stints as background singer for Israel Houghton and a seven-year run as background vocalist for Kirk Franklin. Gene’s music influences include a broad range of legendary soul and gospel singers from Donny Hathaway, Stevie Wonder, and India.Arie to Pastors Marvin Winans and Jason Nelson.
Gene’s faith walk in the music business was rough at first. “I experienced a lot of broken promises,” he said. “I was signed to production deals that didn’t go through.” By age 31, he was ready to throw in the towel on his recording dream and remain a local singer. “I took on the attitude that if people wanted me to sing for this or that event, I’d do it, but that was it.”
Then former Motown Gospel VP of A&R Aaron Lindsey---a friend and fellow Houstonite who knew Gene from his work with Israel Houghton---asked if he wanted a record deal. He signed with Motown Gospel in 2013, but it took three years before his album, The Future, was released. “They had to figure out who I was as an artist first,” he explained.
The Future was critically acclaimed and experienced moderate sales and radio play. More importantly, it helped define the creative team for Tunnel Vision. “You have to learn about your partner—what they like, what they don’t like,” Gene said. “On my first record, everybody was trying to figure things out. On Tunnel Vision, they knew my vibe and polished it up a little, so it is more radio-friendly.”
In addition to Ced Smith, members of the Tunnel Vision creative team include producers Dana T. Soréy and Terence Vaughn, and songwriters, including Matt Redman, Eric Dawkins, Jason Nelson, and Deon Kipping. Gene also lends his lyrical perspective to two key tracks on the final project. As a result, the album traverses a variety of styles, including Praise & Worship with “Depending on You” and writer Jason Nelson’s Stevie Wonder-influenced “We Ask for Rain;” the urban beat of “Won’t Be Moved” and “That God;” and the pop-flavored “Love Like You.” The constant, however, is Gene’s creamy, resonant baritone.
For Gene, “Depending On You” is emblematic of the album’s overall theme. “That was the very first song I wrote for the album,” he said, “and I wrote it from a place of pain. The lyrics came from my heart. I want people to hear my heart and my transparency. I’m not going to let anything stand between me and my devotion to God.”