Ricky Dillard & New G; Toronto (2007)
What happens when you take a Chicago based choir and their charismatic leader to another country? You get an explosive, historical event like no other!
Choirmaster Ricky Dillard and his 70 piece chorale, New G, exploded into new territory for their 7th recording (CD and DVD). Known for recording albums in their hometown of Chicago, Dillard and his troupe stepped outside of the comfortable to cross the border into Toronto, Canada.
This recording marks the first of several projects anticipated from Dillard's own label, Animated Music Group, which is distributed by Alliant Music Group.
With the start time slated for 7:30 PM, the freezing temperatures did not hinder the massive crowd who turned out. When the doors opened, the people rushed into the large sanctuary of The Rhema Christian Center.
The program began with an explosive worship set by the Rhema Praise Team, who set the atmosphere for the night. As he did for Dillard's Unplugged recording of 2003 (read live recording recap from 2003), Stellar Award winner Donald Lawrence came to the stage to solicit the audience for applause and exhortations for the recording. Once that was complete, the house lights dimmed....
Ricky & New G were posed on stage as if they were mannikins. Classically dressed in navy and fuchsia, the choir opened the night with a song of praise entitled "Awesome God", written by newcomer Dennis Reed. Fierce and energetic, they proclaimed the awesome power of God and showcased a New G style of praise and worship without straying from their signature sound.
Then the choir slid right into Darnell Davis' "Faith". Previously recorded by James Grear & Nu Friends, Ricky and New G put their twist to the tune with infectious jazzy grooves and licks laced with their powerful, yet controlled vibrato. New G music director and co-producer Michael Taylor (organ) lead the grand instrumentation of the band which included Reggie Strong (keys), Derrick Hearne (bass) and Brent Easton (drums).
Reed's "Grateful" showcased the chorale's new assistant director, Patrick Riddick, from Virginia, while veteran assistant director Larry Jones took the lead vocals. The audience took charge of this song and wouldn't let it go. A praise break went forth. Oh yes, Canadians know how to get down and have good ole' fashioned church! It amazed me that throughout the entire night the audience were on their feet. Ricky had to make them sit down, but surprisingly, that didn't last.
With worship-filled exhortations by Pastor Orim Meikle of the Rhema Christian Center, Dillard and his crew finished the first half with John Harris' "Our Father You Are Holy" and a remake of the Edwin Hawkins' classic "Search Me Lord".
Fully clad in pink & burgundy robes, Ricky Dillard & New G came back for the second half with another set of soon-to-be gospel hits, with Dillard and Davis writing the bulk of the music.
Starting with Dillard's "Bless His Holy Name" and "The Light", the songs moved in the same vein as the choir's recent hits "Take Me Back" and "Holy Place". With their choreographed moves and powerful vibrato, these cuts will be a delight to many.
The Davis-penned tune "That Name" brought the house down in an uproar. With full modulations projecting from the choir and with New G's Melva Crittenden on lead, the song took the audience into a commanding worship experience.
Houston native and New G member, Nikki Ross graced the crowd with Davis' traditional version of "I Surrender All". Ross floored the audience with her crazy riffs and runs and then took everyone right back into church while the choir took control of the chorus.
Now, Dillard & New G couldn't leave Canada without a traditional bump! He took care of that as he revisited Eric McDaniels' tune, "One More Chance". Why did he do that? With Atlanta native and member Lillian Lloyd on lead vocals and the choir in full effect, it was all over! We had church, church and mo' church! Souls flooded the altar as Ricky and Pastor Meikle prayed.
Mr. Dillard and his dynamic choir definitely left their mark in Toronto with a new venture and recording that reveals a new level in Dillard's ministry. Canada can attest to the fact that Ricky Dillard has given birth to a choral masterpiece!
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