PORTLAND, OR. — Citing both his desire to reach a severely unchurched population bloc and his appreciation for organic fruits and vegetables, singer/songwriter Israel Houghton has entered into a commercial agreement with New Seasons Markets, a grocery chain in the Portland area.
Terms of the agreement have not been officially disclosed, but Houghton’s distinctive tenor can be heard singing the newest jingle for the high-end, specialty grocer, a remake of his first radio hit “New Season”:
It’s at New Seasons / They have it today / fresh cilantro / for your soufflé / At New Seasons there’s flour / and red and green tea / It’s at New Seasons / Come in with me
Fans of Houghton, frontman of the Grammy-winning powerhouse ensemble Israel and New Breed, were taken aback by the unusual career move, so Houghton recently took the step to explain himself.
“It actually started when we did a worship concert a few years back in the Portland area. I had just finished rehearsing, and was on my way to the hotel for a few hours of rest. And while I was in the car, I was just sensing this deep thirst inside of me. It was like an incredible longing for something that would satisfy, something to help me through this dry spell that I was in.
“Right then, the Spirit of God spoke to me,” Houghton said. “He told me, ‘take a left at the light.’ And there it was.”
Houghton claims it was divine appointment that led him into a New Seasons market that day, where they had just slashed prices on bottled water with echinacea.
“A 4-pack for $3.99? That stuff saved my voice. Do you know how high I sing?”
Ever since his great experience with the cheerful, friendly staffers — who also pointed out a new breed of hybrid apple-pears — he made it a point to return during every tour through the Pacific Northwest.
“Everybody else, on their downtime, was like ‘let me catch a movie’ or something. Aaron tried to get me to go to Powell’s — I guess there’s this bookstore everybody’s into — but I was like, ‘Naw, I gotta get back to New Seasons!'”
Now that Houghton has taken such a bold step, he’s hoping the unconventional alliance will spark a revolution among Christians in the supermarket aisle.
“There’s a new generation of believers out there, who are taking a stand. They are not satisfied with oranges with no flavor that sit on trucks for weeks at a time. And they are looking to take back their grocery stores for God.
I’m telling you, they’re taking it back, they’re taking it back.”
In lieu of payment, Houghton has requested sales floor space for his latest book, A Deeper Level of Food, a cookbook/devotional title.
So far, most of his fans have greeted the move with enthusiasm.
“My pastor wanted me to do a Daniel fast, where you eat only fruits and vegetables,” said Janice Hansbrough, a mother of three. “I wasn’t really into it until my husband bought me Israel’s new book. Now my favorite snack is snap peas with mint leaves.
“Even my husband eats it,” she added.
Even local New Seasons employees are pleased with the new arrangement. Cashier Grace McKay has noticed a difference in the checkout line. “Since we started playing that ‘With Long Life’ song, I’m pretty sure our geriatric vitamins have gone through the roof.”
Not everyone is happy with the arrangement, however.
“We’re running out of space as it is, shoot,” complained general manager Elaine Simpson. “If Israel wants a deeper level, he’s gonna have to renovate the basement.”
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(In case you couldn’t figure this out… this is a joke, folks. It’s satire. Just like this post about a gospel workout instructor. I’m actually a fan of Israel Houghton and his music. I’m just a sucker for a parody song, and I made up the “It’s At New Seasons” song the first time I saw these markets open up in the Portland area.)