Gospel icon Caesar reacts to becoming a viral sensation

Thursday, November 24, 2016
Shirley Caesar tries to make sense of new viral fame
Shirley Caesar spoke to ABC11 about the viral meme that's introducing her to a new generation.

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Legendary gospel singer and Triangle native Shirley Caesar is trending on social media. Caesar's performance of one of her classic songs, "Hold My Mule," was remixed into a Thanksgiving meme for Instagram's U Name It challenge.

The song has gone viral, and ABC 11 sat down with the First Lady of Gospel about the viral sensation.

"It's so exciting." Caesar said. The meme asks Caesar what she is cooking for Thanksgiving. The meme then cuts to Caesar's edited performance where she sings, "Beans, Greens, Potatoes, Tomatoes ... you name it!"

The hip hop beat remixed to the gospel legend's voice is getting folks on social media excited about Thanksgiving.

Caesar says she is a pretty good cook.

"I can cook the best cabbage," she said.

But she didn't know a remixed song about it would go viral. The Gospel music veteran said she first learned about the meme while on a cruise vacation. A young female church member shared the video with Caesar.

"I didn't understand it. And still don't understand it," Caesar said. "I have not been able to wrap my mind around what's going on. It is so huge!"

Caesar's cameo in the Instagram video is from her original gospel performance of her song "Hold My Mule," which tells a story about a farmer so excited about his blessings that he can't contain his excitement, so he asks for someone to hold the animal.

Caesar says the performance was shot eight years ago at her church -- Mt. Calvary Word of Faith in Raleigh.

The meme has been viewed, shared and mimicked by thousands of millennials of all backgrounds around the country.

And right here in the Triangle. Caesar joined in on the spoof with Radio One staff and 103.9 The Light radio personality Jerry Smith.

"When we told her how many millennials and young people are fueling this, she was humbled by that and even shed a tear," Smith said.

St. Augustine's University student Jacquez Griffin said he and his friends can't get enough of the video.

"Honestly when I first saw it I didn't get the message directly, but it makes you want to go search for the real meaning behind it," Griffin said.

With a career spanning more than 60 years, the song caps off a big year for Caesar, who is an 11-time Grammy-award-winning artist. In 2016, she received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, she has a new gospel album, "Fill this House," and now a new catchphrase people can't get enough of.

"I'm just overly joyed that God has allowed me this platform to reach all of these young folk," Caesar said.

Caesar is capitalizing off her catch phrase. She is selling Christmas sweaters, T-shirts and aprons with the message, "Greens, Beans, Tomatoes, Potatoes."

And Wednesday, rapper Snoop Dogg released a new song on iTunes with Caesar's voice singing the catchphrase.

For details on how you can purchase Shirley Caesar's apparel click here

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