Turks and Caicos Mass Choir
Behold! Live in Chicago
From Meek Records comes a live-recorded Chicago project with an island twist. The Turks and Caicos Mass Choir hails from the tiny island nation in the Caribbean and makes their mainland debut with a ten-song album titled "Behold!". Under the direction of Shaun Malcolm, the choir's strength is in the sunny beats of cuts such as pulsating "Sacrifice of Praise" and the syncopated reggae stylings of "Righteousness", with Portia Cox out in front. "How Did You Get Here", the hit ballad originally sung by R&B songstress Deborah Cox, is given a Gospel remake, with Ena Williams and Craig Archibold handling duet duties. With the exception of the soft hip hop of "A Brighter Day", other selections take on a somewhat milder Brooklyn Tab approach.
As a former background singer for Terri Carroll, Wanda Trent-Phillips now emerges as a solo artist with her own project, and is Simply Called to minister in song. From her swinging jazz-flaired alto vocals on "Journey" to her able treatment of standards such as "Is Your All On The Altar" and "There Is Room On the Cross", Trent-Phillips is more than capable of conveying the message and captivating the ear. Production comes from Eric Roberson and a small backing ensemble supports most of the ten songs on this debut. Other highlights are the contemporary "Hold On" and the true-story inspired "Through It All I'm Coming Out".
Out of Philly comes Changed, a contemporary four-man group with a ten-song, eponymously-titled project that honours old skool soul with Gospel lyrics. Consisting of Paul Burke, Ricky Jordan, Larry Marshall and George Ward, the group puts the point on harmonized vocals, supported by frequently soft keyboards, including work by the reknowned instrumentalist, Bryant Pugh. “Now It’s Time” is the album’s hit, with a catchy melody and a fabulous lead from Marshall. Also look out for songs such as “Jesus Is The Answer” and the title track “Changed”.
Nigel Rawlins and the Island Praisers
Caribbean Praise Vol. 1
Nijel Rawlins hails from the US Virgin Islands and brings his considerable songwriting, production and artistic talents to a joyous celebration of a project titled simply Caribbean Praise Vol. 1. Together with his select Island Praisers, Rawlins jumps up with cuts such as “Gospelypso (He’s Mighty)” and the very reggaefied “My Everything”. Styles of all sorts are on this disc. “Nadie Como Tu” has latin percussion pumping underneath, “He Reigns” combines a touch of urban with a brassy island feel and “Jump 4 Jesus” is pure celebration with pan and thumpy percussion. Keeping still is not possible with this project!
Charlene Nelson is a soprano vocalist who combines classically-edged vibrato with a definite Gospel flair. Putting her gift to work on 14 tracks on her project No Compromise, Nelson works with a refined group of background singers along with organ, keys, drums, bass and guitar. Highlights of the project are the opening "Glory Medley" and the soft simmer of "I Depend On You", with Byron Nichols in duet. Guest Charisse Nelson-McIntosh joins in with Nelson on "Jesus My Everything", and Fred Hammond's "Your Steps Are Ordered" is also nicely covered.
The Author and the Source
Piano specialist Arliington Jones joins with the renowned Bobby Sparks on production to put out a 13-track Gospel jazz offering that satisfies with its classic jazz approach and intrigues with its creativity in interpreting scriptural themes. Recorded live and featuring bass, sax and drum sidesmen, pieces like “The Author And the Source” and “Agape” are standouts, as Jones warmly pounces on the theme and rides with it on piano through to the last kick of accompanying snare. On “New Life”, the Texas resident lays back on a sweet melody, captivating with keyboard exploration. “King David’s Groove” does exactly that, with guest trumpet to boot. Brilliant.
Commonwealth of PA Church of God in Christ Mass Choir
The fine COGIC musical tradition comes alive with this 11-song live project from the Commonwealth of PA Church of God in Christ Mass Choir. Recorded in Philly in August 2001, the project simply presents a concert on CD, a mass choir recording featuring a multitude of directors and soloists, and some great new song material. Songs such as "I Am What I Am" with songwriter Lisa Dennis up front, and "Lord I Want To Be Effective" featuring Ernest Saunders, are noteworthy. At nearly an hour in length, this is true to the liner note statement: "turn up the volume and [have] church".
Wayne T. Davis Mass Choir
The St. John Free Will Baptist Church of Upper Marlboro Maryland offers up one of those sleeper type projects. This high quality, 11-song church choir live album grabs your attention and merits replay over and over. The Wayne T. David Mass Choir is featured prominently, along with some of the church's other choirs.
With renowned producer and songwriter Jeffrey LaValley at the helm and Gloria M. Harvey co-producing, songs such as "Unto The Lamb" (from the pen of Clinton Truesdale) and others from writers that include LaValley, Trini Massie, Isaiah Thomas and Guy Robinson bless immeasurably.
Among many highlights, the album's shining track is "Jesus Is The Word", a song that begins with rhythmically pulsing guitar and moves forward into a proclamation of profound truth of our Saviour, with songwriter Uzorize Carter singing tenor lead.
Gospel Live From Beale St.
DeWitt Johnson takes his live ministry to B.B. King's famed Beale St. Blues Club in Memphis, Tennesse. Thirteen songs encompass this video recording, and bring you close to Johnson's old time Gospel, with crack band and a select crew of vocalists supporting. The atmosphere is true to the renowned venue; Johnson and company brighten the confines with praise and worship, beginning with "I Owe It All To God" and including "Shouting With The Angels" and "God's Got A Blessing With Your Name On It".
Harnessing their ability to combine hip hop flows with praise and worship, they youthful San Fernando Valley based duo Catch 2 (Jahmy Hines, Eric Crowder) offer a joyous 15-track quality self-titled debut that has caught the attention of many. "Give Him The Praise" is the track that has brought them the most attention (and no wonder, given the rap infectiousity and vertical praise that marks the cut), but there are several other pieces on the album that satisfy. Catch 2's penchant for fast-delivered flows is evident on "Ready" and "Everyday"; their abilities with respect to insightful lyricism is shown on "Messiah". Guest vocalist Michala Peterson shines on the tender guitar-touched "Got Christ".
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