Pastor Marvin Louis Sapp (born January 28, 1967) is an American Gospel music singer-songwriter who recorded with the group Commissioned during the 1990s before beginning a record-breaking solo career. Sapp is also the founder and senior pastor of Lighthouse Full Life Center Church, located in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
Early life and education
Sapp was born and raised in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and began singing in church at age four. He spent his teenage years singing with a number of Gospel groups and ensembles. He was a student at the unaccredited Aenon Bible College in Indianapolis, Indiana. He dropped out of Aenon after being invited by Gospel singer Fred Hammond to sing with Commissioned in 1991 after Keith Staten left. Sapp appears on the group’s albums Number 7, Matters of the Heart, and Irreplaceable Love. Sapp left in 1996 and was replaced by Marcus R. Cole.
In 1996, Sapp decided to establish himself as a contemporary gospel solo artist and has recorded seven albums. Sapp first achieved crossover fame with the release of “Never Would Have Made It” from the album Thirsty in 2007. It peaked at No. 14 on the U.S. Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, No. 82 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, and also at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot Gospel Songs chart. Thirsty debuted at No. 28 on the U.S. Billboard 200, No. 4 on the U.S. Billboard Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, and also No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Top Gospel Albums. It has been certified gold by the RIAA due to the album selling over 500,000 copies, making it Sapp’s best selling album of his solo career, and has so far sold over 712,000 copies. In 2009, Sapp won all seven Gospel Stellar Awards that he was nominated for.
Sapp recorded Thirsty ‘s follow-up album, Here I Am, on October 16, 2009 at Resurrection Life Church in Wyoming, Michigan and released it on March 16, 2010. With its release, Sapp became the all-time highest charting gospel artist in Billboard’s 54-year history of tracking album sales. By selling approximately 76,000 copies of Here I Am its first week out, the album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 chart, making Here I Am the highest charting album ever by a gospel artist. Here I Am’s lead single, “The Best in Me,” which was co-written by the album’s producer, Aaron Lindsey (Israel Houghton), peaked at No. 14 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart, No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Songs chart and reached No. 20 (with a bullet) on Billboard’s Urban AC chart. On January 15, 2011, Marvin Sapp topped the list of winners during the 26th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards
Sapp is the widower of MaLinda Sapp, who served as the Administrative Pastor at his Lighthouse Full Life Center Church. MaLinda died September 9, 2010, from complications of colon cancer. They have three children, Marvin II, Mikaila, and Madisson. On March 21, 2009, Sapp was initiated into the Grand Rapids Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi fraternity. Sapp likes to appear in a church in Douglas, Georgia, called Hightower Memorial Temple. Sapp has been awarded honorary doctorate degrees from two non-accredited institutions, a Doctor of Divinity Degree from Aenon Bible College and the Doctor of Ministry Degree from Friends International Christian University.