The Villages Daily Sun

Former Church on the Square Performer Up for Six Stellar Awards

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Posted: Thursday, December 28, 2017 8:00 am

As a teenager and young adult, gospel music artist Bryan Popin performed more than a dozen times at Church on the Square in The Villages. Since then, Popin’s music has risen to the top of the gospel and Christian Billboard charts. He’s also been nominated for six different Stellar Awards. Popin’s career started at a young age. At 7 years old, he was doing shows for senior citizens in the New Jersey area as a concert pianist with his mother, Barbara Popin. “His brother and sister played piano and then he started playing,” Barbara said. “He was a little better and faster, and I was a piano teacher and taught him for six years, but he surpassed my level, so we got professors and a jazz instructor for him.” By the age of 12, Bryan was doing his own concerts, touring with Rambo-McGuire Ministries and appearing on “The 700 Club” television program.

He met Stevie Wonder through a producer in New York, and Wonder gave him the name “Little Boy Wonder” after hearing his music.

Barbara, who now lives in the Village Santo Domingo, said that seeing Bryan’s career unfold has been like a miracle.

“He’s very humble and he has just blossomed,” she said. “It’s just amazing what God did as far as continuously giving him new gifts. People say his music has so many different things that they’ve never heard before. I’m so proud of him.”

Bryan was 18 when his parents moved to The Villages, and he visited often to perform at Church on the Square. He also ministered at several churches in the area, including Village View Community Church and Fairway Christian Church.

“A lot of Villagers know my name or have seen me perform,” Bryan said. “Over the past few years, I have transitioned from a concert pianist to a gospel artist.”

Although rewarding, Bryan said his career hasn’t been easy.

Four years ago, he was planning to declare bankruptcy.

“It hasn’t been an easy road,” Bryan said. “There have been many times when I could have given up. I share these things with people, on social media and through my songs. I try to let people know that life isn’t easy, it’s not perfect and it’s not fair. I feel that’s the only way we can learn together and from each other.”

Bryan said that around that time, a Villager called him out of the blue, saying that she couldn’t sleep because she felt there was something she needed to do.

She heard that he didn’t have his own piano because he couldn’t afford one, but she had a 1915 Steinway Concert Grand Piano that she wanted to give him.

“That’s when things started to progress,” Bryan said. “I canceled the appointment to claim bankruptcy and decided to give it one more try.”

From there, things started looking up.

Bryan’s most recent album, “I Got Out” made it to the top of the charts and led to several nominations for different awards.

Bryan is now up for six different Stellar Awards, including Song of the Year, Male Vocalist of the Year, Producer of the Year, Traditional Male Vocalist of the Year, Traditional CD of the Year and Urban/Inspirational Performance of the Year.

Bryan said that being nominated for these awards is surreal.

“You want to be acknowledged by your peers for what you do. That in itself feels good,” Bryan said. “To be in some of these categories with some of these people who I not only respect but have listened to for years is an honor. To think that four years ago, I was literally on my last straw and about to give up — to see where I am now is amazing. I feel what God has done.”

To vote for Bryan, visit thestellarawards.com and scroll down to where it says “Stellar Fan Voting” and “Radio Fan Voting.” Click on “Stellar Fan Voting” and the categories will come up.

Voters must vote in all 29 categories, and Bryan’s nominations are categories 2, 3, 9, 13, 17 and 18. Voting closes on Friday.

Kristen Fiore is a staff writer with The Villages Daily Sun. She can be reached at 352-753-1119, ext. 5270, or kristen.fiore@thevillagesmedia.com.