Isaac Barber's YouTube contest win yields opening act spot in gospel concert
Isaac Barber, a graduation and eligibility analyst in the Office of the University Registrar at Virginia Tech, took the stage in Burruss Hall Auditorium and performed for a crowd of 1,500 people during Virginia Tech's Second Annual Gospel Concert, which was held during Black History Month.
The gospel concert featured internationally known Fred Hammond and new comers to the gospel music scene, Zie’l, but Barber opened the event with a song for which he wrote the music and lyrics.
Barber earned the distinction of being the opening act by submitting a video of him performing a gospel song on the YouTube website. Barber’s video was among a group of nine videos competing for the opening act spot. The Office for Equal Opportunity at Virginia Tech sponsored the contest.
After the submission deadline, the public was invited to go online and vote for their favorite video. A total of 469 votes were cast, and Barber’s Your Love/Emmanuel won with 69.5 percent of the votes.
Barber and the other top-rated video winners were standing on stage when he was announced as the winner. Barber said that he remembers feeling very nervous prior to being named the winner, but after the winner was announced, the pressure he felt subsided and one of the first thoughts that came to his mind was, “I hope I stay on key.”
Barber performed Your Love/Emmanuel and did stay on key. The audience responded with enthusiastic applause. He says he is comfortable performing on stage since his work with vtONE, a Christian student organization on campus, often lands him in front of a crowd of 900 or more. He has also performed with the musical group Pocket Full of Rocks in Nashville, Tenn., as well as with numerous musical groups in churches.
Barber said that he felt inspired to write Your Love at a point in his life when he was frustrated by the lack of action from others in his church ministry. He said he was “following all the rules and jumping through the hoops, but it just didn’t feel like some members were doing their part.” Frustrated by the situation, he said he told God that he couldn’t do it anymore. He didn’t really expect God to answer, he said, adding, “it is like when you have a rant and feel better.” But all of a sudden, the words to Your Love came to him. “It wasn’t that I’m gonna take care of you and you’ll be okay, it was just me being able to say out loud about the truth in what we have in God, that His love is amazing, His love is unchanging, His love remains from yesterday and through today. It was like he was saying I’m constant and I’m able and I’m complete,” Barber said.
Barber wrote Emmanuel the week he recorded the video. He said he wanted to give even more dimension to what God’s love is about. He searched the Bible for ways to pull God’s love out because, he said, if he won, God’s love would be the message that he wanted to communicate to the audience. Barber said that he “didn’t want to sing just a song that people could connect with, he wanted it to have a message of Christ in it.”
Barber has been interested in music since the age of six. He attended Louisiana Tech University working toward a degree in music education. His family is musically inclined, his father plays bass and sings, his sister sings, and his brother plays the saxophone and drums.
Although his father was in the Air Force and his family relocated often, Barber considers Plattsburgh, N.Y., home. He moved to Blacksburg, Va., in 2004 and worked for Blacksburg Transit as a trainer.
When asked if he plans to pursue a singing career, Barber said, “I don’t know – I plan on doing whatever I feel like God wants me to do.” Barber said he has lived his life trying to follow where God leads him. He said that if he felt called by God to minister on a larger scale through music, then he would do it.