University alumni seek to reach community with gospel group

DayStar*Music Group Inc. was started five years ago by Florida A&M University alumni in an effort to inspire the urban community through gospel music, DayStar* members said.

Raphael “The Prophet” Ashanti of Pensacola, founder and president of the spiritual trifecta, said the name DayStar is based upon the “principle of prophecies taken from Second Peter 1:19, ‘DayStar’ being a name for Christ.”

Targeting audience members as young as 13, the group’s music ministry offers spirituality through gospel music. Their individualities and vocal diversity set them apart from the average gospel group. The trio conveys a unique sense of style, dealing with day-to-day issues.

A 1990 graduate and lifetime member of the FAMU Playmakers Guild, Ashanti earned a degree in music business. He said music labels often try to control artists’ creativity, so he decided to establish his own record label.

“I felt my work would have been best suited if I established my own label, allowing me independent control,” Ashanti said. Establishing a label was not an easy task for Ashanti. In efforts to learn “the business,” Ashanti attended several workshops, and he often spoke with professionals who were already part of the music business.

While attending FAMU, Ashanti, who was very concerned with issues concerning the black community, was an active member of the Student Alliance Cultural Development.

David Jackson, chairman of the History Department, said Ashanti was considered “one of the conscious brothers on campus. Being very progressive, as well as conscious, Raphael always possessed the gift of being a great speaker, actor and poet.”

Rodney “The Poet” Goldsmith, of Pensacola, also known as Doc C, met Ashanti at a studio. Goldsmith was recording a hip hop record when he was introduced to Ashanti, who was recording a gospel record at the time. Goldsmith had faced some issues in his life and decided to make a change. After realizing that each had the same cause, the two decided to collaborate.

Many consider Goldsmith a rapper, but he considers himself a poet. Artists that have influenced his music include Rakim and Tupac.

After 10 years, Ashanti found an old friend and classmate, Norris “The Priest” Gurganious. Gurganious, of Lakeland, graduated from FAMU in 1990.

Gurganious majored in respiratory therapy and was a member of the music group “Unit Four.” Being raised in the church, Gurganious always had a passion for gospel music.

He is currently an active member of the Maranatha Seventh-Day Adventist Church and a teacher at FAMU Development Research School.

Gurganious said FAMU had a major effect on his music career. “FAMU teaches you culture, how to survive in the real world and to know yourself,” Gurganious said.

After meeting Goldsmith and reuniting with Gurganious, Ashanti’s dream was able to take off. All three men were at a different point in their lives, yet in their own way, trying to get across the same message. “Our motto is three men, three styles, one message,” Ashanti said.

The Priest, The Prophet and The Poet said they attempt to give hope through their music.

“We do this from our hearts, we use our gifts to reach people,” Ashanti said.

The group’s music ministry is on the incline. DayStar* has recently recorded its first album, “The Vision,” which was released June 5 to national radio and worldwide satellite. Its music is also being added to international stations in Japan and Trinidad.

“The Vision” is being considered for the soundtrack of the upcoming motion picture “Born Again” by Maverick Entertainment. In addition, the group has a video in line for release.

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