There was a time when Gabe was thrilled to just be identified as “Nick’s little brother,” and while he’ll still gladly accept that, he wants people to know that he’s on a new journey, one ordained by God.
“I felt a calling, but am I alone in this journey,” said Gabe, as he was in a world that didn’t understand a calling to Jesus. “[God said] If you ain’t obedient, I’m gonna call someone else.”
Gabe, Nick, and their other brothers, Reuben and Caleb, grew up in the church and grew up making music from an early age. Their father used to grab the video camera and perform church songs with the kids. The Cannon boys would also do skits and make little movies.
The camera was always rolling and it’s there where Nick must have caught the entertainment bug.
(Exclusive clip) Watch the Cannon brothers and their father perform below:
As it became evident that Nick would become a star, the brothers made an “idol” out of their older brother.
They were a humble family from North Carolina, and now all of a sudden, Nick is in Hollywood on Nickelodeon.
“Dang he’s made it. We couldn’t believe it, it was impossible,” Gabe shared. “We’re back home and in our mind, everything changed. Now we want to go out in L.A. with Nick. We started to put on talent shows and try to develop our talent because we knew Nick was going to take us.”
He continued, “We idolized him. He’s already the big brother...everything he does. The clothes he wore were cool. He used to write our music, and we wanted to be just like him.”
Gabe said he was even trying to talk like Nick. Whatever Nick did they had to do and whatever Nick said, was funny.
“He would say, ‘You need to stop laughing at stuff that’s not funny’.”
In school and around peers, the brothers wanted everyone to know that they were Nick’s brother. Gabe said he brought in a magazine cover to school and told the class that Nick was his brother. As expected, the class laughed at him and made fun of him for “lying.”
“I always felt like I had something to prove.”
“As Nick got more famous and we moved to Hollywood, everybody already knew that Nick Cannon’s brothers were coming,” said Gabe. “The girls had us picked out to be their boyfriends, and made up in their mind what we look like. They thought they had an idea.”
The one problem that Gabe has was that he looks nothing like Nick. “I’m a 6’3 dark skinned dude and don’t look like Nick and you see their faces and feel like they’re disappointed.”
He said he started to expand his characteristics to be more like Nick so they would believe him.
“I completely lost who I was,” he revealed. “God has shown it to me now. Now I’m trying to live up to everybody’s expectations instead of my brother’s.”
As the young Cannon brothers were now navigating their way in Hollywood, the house parties drinking, and girls were plenty. Everything was in excess, and Nick was always getting stuff first before it came out.
“We got a true dosage of life,” he said. “Everybody was our ‘friend’ but there was nothing just for us. It wasn’t genuine. Even relationships with girls.”
Gabe explained that girls were just notches on his belt. It became how he filled himself up.
“If she thinks I’m this, then I feel good. Someone had to make me feel better.”
Right out of High School the Cannon brothers were employed by Nick to work on MTV’s ‘Wild ‘N Out’.
“Hanging out with models and bringing in my high school friends everywhere,” he said. “It’s a feeling of power but I have no idea. I am empty and only doing stuff for approval.”
God was far from the mind of the Canon brothers. Nick was the head of the empire, and the younger bros were his right-hand men taking care of business behind the scenes and being granted opportunities.
Nick was able to open the door for Gabe to be in a rap group with his other brother called Writerz N Artists. He said he literally had to fight to write his own lyrics in the group. Nick was behind the whole group and had a plan to connect how the songs go.
“When you say it, you have to sound as ignorant as possible,” Nick would tell them of their rap lyrics.
“The content was terrible but I see his mind from a business standpoint,” said Gabe. “It’s the biggest platform I’m on and I don’t even have the opportunity to contend and compete. I have to play this role and purposely be ignorant for attention.”
Gabe said that he would split Nick’s verse and then one he wrote and play them side by side to show Nick who the better writer was. Eventually, Nick loosened the reigns, and the group was able to have a small burst of success when they toured with Mariah Carey.
During this time, he always felt a small nudge by God to serve but wasn’t ready yet. When he was 19 he went into the booth and rapped a Christian song called “Tug of War.”
“They kicked me out the booth,” said Gabe. “For the kingdom, I’ve always done it. We had a group when Nick was 12, I was like eight, called 3YB (3 Young Brothers). We planned all these performances and the lights would go out at church and we would sequin our LA Gear sneakers.”
They performed church songs and performed “He is the Light of My Life” flawlessly.
“That’s been the origin of everything. One of the things was always knowing the truth of Christ but then to publicly make a stand, but have things you partake in that you shouldn’t,” said Gabe. “I was the guy who’d be smoking with you but talking about Jesus. That put a cloud over the gospel.”
“How are you trying to tell us something when you over here doing the same things.”
God still had a plan for Gabe, but it wasn’t time yet. He wasn’t in the best place mentally or spiritually. “Tug of War” was a tiny spark, but the fire was yet to come.
“You know why God didn’t let that happen? I probably would have been on a news headline somewhere in a hotel OD’d on something I never tried before trying to please someone else,” he shared.
He’d wake up not knowing who he went to bed with. Gabe went from knowing the truth of God and wound up in a place where he couldn’t even be alone without a woman.
Then one night all the repressed spirit he was bottling inside to avoid God, bubbled out in an incident at a friend’s house.
“I’m in my friend’s yard on the floor screaming for God at 3 a.m.,” he said as people around him contemplated calling the cops. “God started showing me the pureness and the innocence. ‘This is who I made you to be Gabriel’. It started hitting me bad.”
From then on, he started skipping out on radio shows, stopped answering his phone, and stopped taking meetings. Every business opportunity he had, begun to fall through because he needed this time to get right with God.
“I moved to Malibu and went to the beach with my daughter all day and read my Bible. It was true repentance,” he said. “When Jesus told the woman, ‘Sin no more’. I wanted it.”
The most amazing part of the story was that Gabe was alone in his call to God. God also called his brother Caleb first. Caleb went cold turkey on everything and went into full evangelization mode.
He called up Nick and said, “I’m with God now” and quit everything.
He joined the Bible team and went on the streets to evangelize. Gabe said after the MTV job, Caleb could be seen on Hollywood Boulevard sharing the gospel.
“People would be hitting up Nick saying they saw his brother the ‘Jesus freak’ in the streets. Nick would get embarrassed. The crew was getting scared that he’d come in the office and convict everyone.
“God said, you know you’re supposed to be out there with your brother,” said Gabe. “It was mind blowing.”
He said, “A lot of people are skeptical of what’s going on. People see what’s happening and I’m just letting God work.”
Gabe is grateful that God restored Himself into him, Caleb, and now their brother Reuben’s life. The next task at hand is to bring Nick back into the fold.
“Nick is gonna work himself to death. The doctor wants him to rest,” said Gabe referring to this last winter when Nick was hospitalized. “To be with Nick is to work with Nick. If you’re not working, you’re not moving.”
He continued, “It’s hard to say you’re wrong when your whole life points towards right, and say, ‘I need help’,” Gabe said of his older brother.
Gabe said when he visited Nick in the hospital, Nick asked him, “Where have you been?” He told him he hasn’t gone anywhere and is just serving God. “I’d rather be an example of a man following God and to continue being that strength.”
“You don’t know how the divorce is affecting Nick. He’s gotta be Superman all the time,” he said of Nick’s drive to nearly work himself to death. “I know life and death are his questions now.”
For now, all Gabe can do is pray for his famous brother and continue to move in the spaces that God has carved out for him. The first space was music. “God was telling me to pick my pen up.”
He’s fully ready to get the message of the gospel out and is surprised at what’s coming.
“I wasn’t trying to be like no one else, just writing from my heart. Devil on the left, man on the right, God in the middle,” he said. “I’ve been on tour, been in Hollywood. I just need to guard myself.”
“God said, ‘Go’, so I go.”