Welcome to the fourth installment of "It's Your Flava!", where we from time to time invite opinion and comments from visitors. The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of GospelFlava.com
Coming out of the Northern Virginia / DC area, the flava here comes from James R. Wigington Jr.. He is a 26-year-old songwriter, musician, promoter, and sound technician who counts himself as a member of the contemporary Gospel band The Youthful Spirits, and keyboard player for rising Gospel jazz artist Rob Maletick. He's been involved in activities running the gamut from technical work on Hezekiah Walker's live Family Affair video to songwriting and arranging for area artists. He is a husband and father of a son, James III (13 months) who appears destined to become a bass player, as he has twice popped the strings on his father’s bass guitar.
Submitted by James R. Wigington Jr. August, 2000
And of course there are always the Gospel remakes of secular songs, which dates back to James Cleveland's "Jesus is the Best Thing". Personally, I like live original music, but sampling is definitely here to stay. My own group has sampled a couple of familiar R&B groves, using the now famous cliche "We need to reach the young folk outside the church walls" idea. Of course if you believe that God's word in itself is sufficient, this it is faulty indeed to think that the word of God needs a special package to be effective, but that is a whole different issue all together.
There is an old country saying that "When properly cooked, a good steak will make it's own gravy". And you know what? There is plenty of home grown gravy available. Why doesn't the resident Gospel producing fraternity do more sampling of its own vast catalogue of music?
Vintage R&B acts have enjoyed a resurgence in large part because R&B and Hip Hop produces have kept there music alive and therefore current. What if we in the Gospel industry did the same? Yes, George Clinton and Jam and Lewis have some tight grooves from the 70's and 80's. But so did Rance Allen and The Clark Sisters. Some of the vocal hooks of Commissioned and Take 6 would make some bangin’ choruses. The Winans’ "If I Labor” cranks hard for a good 30 seconds in the beginning of the song.
The Isley Brothers are smooth and funky, but can you put them past the sounds of the late O'landa Draper and Milton Brunson? And talk about power. Want to reach out to the ghetto? Bust a lyrical rap over a looped bassline of The Canton Spirituals’ "Mississippi Po' Boy", and you'll get a much more powerful effect than a similar sample of The Gap Band’s "Oops Upside Your Head."
For an old school effect, The Gospel Keynotes’ "Jesus You've Been Good To Me" has a tight intro bassline. Run that through a Roland VP9000, and you’re in business. Of course, I'm just waiting for someone to get their lyrical groove over top of the looped Commissioned classic "Ordinary", or over Rance Allen's jam "Miracle Worker". Oh the possibilities!!
Producers, next time you prepare to sample, think about our own. Gospel music. Not only are there tight grooves available, but you pass along the heritage of years gone by. This could spark a resurgence among the new generation of Gospel music consumers, as they are introduced to some of the wonderful and powerful songs of praise and worship from days gone by.
Segment One: Nathan Thomas (December, 1999)
Segment Two: Andre Mullin (January, 2000)
Segment Three: Dwayne Lacy (February, 2000)