Chris Jefferson, who uses the stage name CeeJ (pronounced “siege”), is feeling pretty good about his latest achievement as a faith-based hip-hop artist.
Last week, the Spartanburg resident’s recently released EP, “Heavy,” debuted at No. 42 on the Billboard Christian Album Sales chart and at No. 10 on the Billboard Heatseekers South Atlantic chart, the latter of which encompasses multiple genres both secular and religious.
“We did it. We hit the Billboard charts, man,” Jefferson said excitedly while seated behind the mixing board at Speaklife Studio, the hometown recording facility where “Heavy” was made.
Jefferson, though, was quick to point out that the successes he’s experienced as the recording artist CeeJ would never have been possible if not for a decision he made more than a decade ago.
“I’ll never forget — July 22, 2007, to be exact,” said Jefferson, noting the moment his life changed forever.
Jefferson was in his native Greensboro, N.C., at the time and had been invited to church by his mother, who had given birth to him when she was only 14 years old. He attended the service with his then-girlfriend Amber, who is now his wife.
“I never had a desire or the intention when I went to church that morning to give my life to Christ,” Jefferson said. “But, at the end of the service, the pastor stood up and was like, ‘we can’t leave until he comes up here. We know God’s calling him.’ And I’m sitting there like, ‘I know he ain’t talking about me." Eventually, however, Jefferson was overcome with emotion.
“I remember, I stood up with tears in my eyes and I walked to the altar,” he said. “And I stood there and I said, ‘I’m ready to give my life to Christ.’ And I’ll never forget, my (now) wife came up with me, grabbed my hand and we got saved on the same day.”
Jefferson, 33, has been making music as CeeJ for the past several years. Although the songs on “Heavy” are inspired by his faith in God and contain powerful messages related to it, none of them come across as preachy.
“It’s a reflection of me,” Jefferson said of the new EP. “I’m not over-religious or overzealous when it comes to ministering the Word. I love God, absolutely, and I have no shame in that, but I’m just a regular dude.”
“Heavy,” which is available on such digital platforms as iTunes and Amazon.com, has been getting airplay worldwide. The first single from it is a song called “100 Blessings.”