Thursday, January 7, 2021

"Dear Mr. Jesus" by PowerSource (Solo...Sharon)

Song#:  3368
Date:  12/19/1987
Debut:  82
Peak:  61
Weeks:  7
Genre:  Contemporary Christian

Pop Bits:  PowerSource was a Christian youth choir from Bedford, Texas, a town that falls between Dallas and Ft. Worth. In 1986, the group got together with songwriter/producer Richard Klender and recorded an indie album titled Shelter from the Storm. The group would sing together with various soloists being featured on the tracks. While the album may have found some fans in the Christian music community, for the most part the album came and went. Somehow, a copy of the album happened to be on-hand at a Tampa radio station and someone there began to play the track "Dear Mr. Jesus," which featured a lead vocal from 6-year-old Sharon Batts in the late fall of '87. The song was about a young girl writing a letter to Jesus after seeing a news report about child abuse on TV. The tune began to get some attention, but what really pushed the song in a bigger way was a tragic event that happened in New York City in November of '87 (see below). After details of the event came to light, a radio station in New York picked up "Dear Mr. Jesus" and put it on the air. The response was overwhelming. Soon there were requests for copies of the album since a single had not been issued out. As the song caught on in more markets, a single was finally printed. Airplay combined with sales allowed the tune to debut on the Pop chart. The message song wouldn't get too far, but it made an impression. The album would reach #10 on the Contemporary Christian chart. Batts was then courted by record labels and two years later she did record the solo album Someone to Love Me with PowerSource supporting, but it didn't get anywhere. It seems that later in life Batts remained in Texas, became a style consultant, and wrote a 2019 book on how to make clothes look good on you.

ReduxReview:  This is a difficult song to rate. On one hand, how can you say anything negative towards a tune about child abuse sung by a kid? Just saying you don't like it could bring the wrath of other people who think you are insensitive and don't get it. Basically, you are a monster. On the other hand, regardless of the subject matter it is still a musical piece that is open to criticism. People may love it, people may loathe it. It took me a minute to remember the song, but it all came back to me as soon as I heard it. I have to say, I think the same way about it now as I did back then. While I appreciate the sentiment, I have a very low tolerance for treacly tunes like this. They pander to people's emotions, are manipulative, and are usually poorly written and produced. If you compare this tune to another 1987 song about child abuse, Suzanne Vega's "Luka," it should become clear how a quality song can be composed about a tough subject. Now, I do understand that someone's Aunt Doris may not really get Vega's track and would more likely be crying in her kerchief to "Dear Mr. Jesus." That's fine. There's a place in the world for both types of tunes, but for me, this toddler-led ditty makes me cringe rather than cry. Sorry - I gotta calls it as I hears it. (Frankly, it should be a 0 or 1, but I'll add a point due to the unexpected and pretty darn good rock filler vocal at the end by some guy, presumably the writer/producer.)

ReduxRating:  2/10

Trivia:  This song played on people's emotions, especially in New York. On November 1, 1987, criminal defense attorney Joel Steinberg struck his adopted daughter Lisa, age 6, in the head. He left their home and eventually Steinberg's common law wife, Hedda, called the police. Lisa would die three days later from her injuries. Apparently, Lisa and a young toddler that Steinberg had taken in but not adopted, were being abused for quite a while. Both Steinberg and Hedda were arrested. Hedda, in exchange for her testimony, would not serve time. Steinberg would be convicted for manslaughter and serve a prison term. He was paroled in 2004. The crime caught the nation's attention and this song, sung by a six-year-old, happened to get discovered just after the Steinberg incident.



  1. My family and I have been discussing this song this Christmas . For all the love in the world , we cannot find anywhere , who the guy in red with the ( Michael Bolton-esqe) feature at the end of the video , is . We cannot find anywhere what his name is . Any help ??? Thank you

    1. I believe it is the song's writer/producer Richard Klender.