Ye Sued for Stealing Pastor’s Sermon and Using it in the Song ‘Come To Life’

Steven T. Lowe

On May 3, 2022, Bishop David P. Moten filed a lawsuit against Ye, formerly Kanye West, for Ye’s use of portions of the Texas pastor’s recorded sermon in Ye’s song “Come to Life” on his 2021 album “Donda.”

Moten said he never gave the rapper permission to use his sermon. Most notably, his voice stands out at the beginning of Ye’s “Come to Life,” as he preaches, “My soul cries out, ‘Hallelujah’/And I thank God for saving me/I, I thank God.” According to the complaint, “Come to Life” is just over five minutes long. About one minute and 10 seconds of that is sampled directly from Moten’s sermon, which appears to run on a loop underscoring the pre-chorus and chorus throughout the song. “Defendants willfully and without the permission or consent of plaintiff extensively sampled portions of the sermon,” Moten said.

Moten’s suit includes claims of copyright infringement and unjust enrichment. The pastor, who ministers at The Joy of The Lord Worship Center in Victoria, Texas, is seeking unspecified damages and attorney fees.

This is not the first time Ye has been accused of using sound recording samples without the owners’ permission. Moten’s complaint alleges that “over the span of several years, defendants have demonstrated an alarming pattern and practice of willfully and egregiously sampling sound recordings of others without consent or permission.” In February 2019, Kanye West used an audio sample of a young girl passionately praying in his 2016 song “Ultralight Beam.” Apparently, she never consented thereto or received appropriate compensation, despite her being credited on the album, and even though the streaming-only album went platinum and sold more than 1 million equivalent album units.

According to the prior suit, the girl’s biological mother, Alice T. Johnson, filmed her praying on her cellphone and uploaded the clip to Instagram, where the video went viral.

Ye argued in December 2019 that the Greens can’t claim any money from the use of their daughter’s voice because the audio had been published in a viral Instagram video before the copyright was registered. The parties reached an undisclosed settlement in October 2020.

In March of this year, Ye was sued yet again, alleging he failed to pay royalties for using a sample of a song by progressive rock band King Crimson in his track “Power,” released on his 2010 album entitled “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.”

Moten is represented by Brandon Smith of Smith & Smith Law Group PLLC.

Counsel information for the defendants was not immediately available.

The case is Bishop David Paul Moten v. Def Jam Recordings et al., case number 3:22-cv-00991, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas.

* Lowe & Associates (“The Firm”) is an entertainment and business law firm located in Beverly Hills, California. The firm has extensive experience handling cases involving copyright infringement, having provided top-quality legal services to its clients since 1991. The Firm is recognized for its many achievements, including successfully litigating many high-profile cases.

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