Thank You For The Change Producer's Commentary
The sophomore project from Youthful Praise, Thank You For The Change, was produced by James D. Robinson Jr. along with John H. Smith, with choir director James "JJ" Hairston Jr. co-producing.
Robinson took some time out to comment on some aspects of the recording:
Remember the day when you purchased an album and liked the whole thing or most of it? That's what we were shooting for with this sophomore project for Youthful Praise. We tried to keep in mind the person who may not be particularly fond of traditional choir music, or even choir music at all, but who would certainly respect great writing.
As a little background, it's useful to speak a little about Youthful Praise's first album, Awesome God. That was a CD that no one really wanted. I mean, no label, no production companies, no one was ready to take it on. But what an incredible project (it received two Stellar nominations).
That project was simply a display of God's impeccable timing. It was His reward of faithfulness to a church (Turner's Faith Temple) for giving a group of young people the freedom to praise their God, while teaching them how to do that under one covering (Bishop J.C. White). The choir took seriously their mandate of obedience, first of all to God and secondly to the rules and regulation of that house.
Awesome God was God showing off, saying "Look at what I can do". It was a great album that met a specific need, both spiritually and musically, proclaiming emphatically that God Is Awesome!!
Awesome God was recorded over four and half years ago now (we are at mid 2004), and like any living organism , there were changes over that time period. So with this second project, we got very deliberate. We wanted a more upbeat collection of songs, not as slow and not as long in song structure as the first presented.
With the exception of "Bless Him", every song has been edited in a way that allows it to move swiftly. Rarely do we go back and repeat phrases, unless it's a vamp. We decided to let the bridges of the songs be just that, and after we got to that point, in most cases we made the decision to simply vamp it out.
The sequencing of this CD is something that we took great care in. We like the fact that after inserting the disk into your player, you look up and suddenly you find that you're at track seven we worked very hard on that.
Thank You For The Change
Minister Kervy Brown guests on "He Rose", a traditional-minded stomp written by Hairston. Musical director Eric Davis guides the band into heavy chording and hectic rhythms as Brown's renowned pipes scald the composition.....|
See full album review.
As not only the producer of the album, or the co-owner of Gospelflava.com, but as a fan and lover of Gospel music, I tried to use somethings that I had liked from other artists and producers of great choirs over the years. I love the way that Milton Brunson and The Tommie's projects cross faded with the audience tracks in between. It gave it a warm feel. I love how Hezekiah Walker and LFCC, on their earlier recordings, would leave the band raw and let them just live in the mix.
Unlike the Awesome God project, JJ wanted to leave in a lot more of the live in the final mix. He said "it's a live church choir album, so let it be that". He would also say to me, "It's not a band album, and it's not a studio album". He was very much against using an exorbitant amount of choir overdubs in the final mix. And when it came to soloists, we tried again to give the best without doing a lot of studio fixes. Kervy
Brown's work (on "He Rose") and Timiney Figeueroa-Caton's work (on the title track) were untouched. Melonie Daniels was added at the last minute and saved a song ("Balm In Gilead") that was on the cutting board, she was incredible for us. Kenya Lee is a member of Youthful Praise, and the song "Say Yes" was written explicitly for her, what else can we say. The same for Kervy, there was no one else JJ ever wanted for that song. And sister Coko came in (on "Up There") and really showed us how committed to singing Gospel she is. She wanted the world to understand that she is not 'playing church', but that the Lord is preparing her for ministry.
Classic Choir Albums
So, while others may be looking for what they believe to be the YP standard, look again, for the standard has changed. There can only be one Richard Smallwood, one Donald Lawrence, one James Hall and so on. But it takes a purposed ministry and a purposed leader that will appreciate others and be a fan of others, but at the same time knows that you're called to do your own work a certain way, and obey that calling.
Thank You For The Change is a church choir project that stays church choir friendly, while giving it the distinction that is unmistakably Youthful Praise.
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