Southern Baptist preacher, influencer and gospel hip-hop artist Nigel “Legin” Anderson was just entering counseling to deal with the decades-long pain of having lived without a father’s love when his grandmother died, COVID-19 hit and the nation began reeling over racial division.
“I actually started going to counseling … just to deal with some issues of fatherless and some trauma that I had. And I found it immensely helpful in seeing the barriers I had to believing just how much God actually loves me,” the 36-year-old husband and father of two children said. “And it just removed a lot of those (barriers) by going back to 12 years old and dealing with trauma that I thought I’d outgrown, but was really impacting my adult life.”
Legin – his name in reverse to showcase God’s redemptive work – transparently shares his ongoing healing with whosoever will tune into his Good Enuf virtual concert series, which kicks off March 16. He says the concert’s theme was born from a desire to address the increased stress felt by many people during the last year.
Legin’s counselor joins him onstage during the concert for unscripted mini-sessions on topics including fatherhood and racial reconciliation, surrounded by Legin’s performances of his original hip-hop selections with gospel resonance and truth. His new single “Feelin Blessed” is scheduled to release March 12.
“I think one thing I’ve learned is that transparency is the best connector,” he said, “and when you’re open and transparent, people have a tendency to trust you, and then if they trust you, they can listen to what you have to say.”
With depression rising, and with suicide rates predicted to climb under the stress of the pandemic, Legin encourages counseling from a biblical worldview. He hopes to raise money through Good Enuf concert tickets and direct appeals to help offset the costs for anyone who desires individual counseling sessions but lacks resources to cover costs. He hopes to fund the project for at least a year.
“This is gospel-centered encouragement to trust Jesus and get counseling if you need it, because we need to save lives,” he said. “We can’t preach the gospel to people who aren’t here.”
The artist preaches monthly at Crossroads Church in Norfolk, Va., where he serves as creative visionary and collaborates with senior pastor and friend Kevin Tremper.
Tremper has witnessed the personal benefits of counseling in Legin’s life.
“In our church as we’ve talked about these issues openly and the need for people to be transparent and honest about their struggles and where they are … we’ve seen how taking the stigma away from counseling and mental health is something that is really needed,” Tremper said. “There’s kind of this idea that counseling is something for people who are really desperately in need or weak and damaged. There were just a lot of stigmas that were attached to counseling.
“I think what I’m excited about for this project that he is doing is that it is helping in a healthy way to normalize our need and desire to pursue our own mental, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.”
The two also collaborated on racial reconciliation through the Hampton Roads City Collective, which they co founded in 2016 following the deaths of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and five Dallas police officers. Legin’s 2020 EP “In This Moment” is his response to racial injustice, political divisiveness and national disunity. It followed a Norfolk prayer march Legin and Tremper helped organize that the two said drew 100 churches and 5,000 participants.
Legin has released 10 recordings and has shared the stage with numerous artists including Lecrae, KB, Da’ T.R.U.T.H, Tedashii, Social Club, Canon, Deraj and Aaron Cole. Legin has performed throughout the U.S. and in London; Nairobi, Kenya, and Pretoria and Cape Town, South Africa.
He often shares his personal struggles on his ministry platforms, including his sermons, music and podcast. An example is his transparency about a difficult relationship with his father, who died 15 years ago, just one day after their last talk.
“My last conversation with my father in his life was, ‘I forgive you for not being there.’ And he died,” Legin said. “That was our last talk. … When I share that story, people meet me and are lined up to say, ‘Man you won’t believe what my mom did to me and how can I forgive her?’ And I just encourage them. ‘She’s never going to deserve your forgiveness, but go give it to her anyway.’
“I’ve learned that transparency connects you to people in a way that art and sermons don’t, alone.”
He describes such transparency as “scary” and emphasizes that the counseling segments on the concert series are not rehearsed.
“It’s scary that somebody on the other end of the stage gets to see that I’m embarrassed about the fact that I’m in my thirties and I still have daddy issues,” he said. “I didn’t want to let my daughter see that. But I felt like I could either tuck this away – which I know doesn’t work – I can avoid discomfort, or I can be uncomfortable for a little while, and maybe see a lot of fruit for the gospel in people’s lives. And maybe I’m being selfish if I choose comfort.”
(EDITOR’S NOTE – Diana Chandler is Baptist Press’ senior writer.)