You're The Reason

You're The Reason CDAdrian Smith's solo debut under the name Agee comes out of nowhere, and is the latest in intriguing Gospel projects out of Evander Holyfield's Real Deal Records.

You've heard Smith before. As a former Radical For Christ lead vocalist (Inner Court, Spirit of David), he has been under the wing of the finest of the Motor City's Gospel talent. Apart from the years spent with Fred Hammond, he also counts credits as lead vocalist with Jerome Ferrell and the Lighthouse Interdenominational Choir, and can currently be found up front with . His ministry duties include Praise and Worship leader and youth ministry involvement at Perfecting Church in Detroit.

On You're The Reason, Smith and his musical team have quietly assembled a stellar cast of contributors that not only makes this a stunning debut, but also makes it a must-have for all who make it a point of keep on top of what's happening in Gospel's hotbed.

Adrian Smith (Agee)Dana Davis brings his Gospel background (drummer for The Winans, numerous production credits) to the surface, contributing a couple songs, working the instruments and handling joint production duties with Billy Meadows.

Kayla Parker handles backing vocals on Michael Allen's tune, "Never Alone", and also on Smith's "Find My Way", while Marguerita Bass (sister of Damita Haddon) as well as Terrell Carter and Chris Poole are among the familiar names taking care of backing vocals on various cuts.

Smith's soaring tenor stokes every song on the CD, with a diversity of approaches ranging from praise and worship to urban joy jams, with ballads in between. At some points, his vocals echo with traces of old school soul, along the lines of a Howard Hewitt.

On "I Am", Marvin Winans joins with Smith on vocals, bringing an unmistakeable Winans feel to the opening uptempo song. Bookending the project comes a song written by Perfecting Church's associate pastor, Donnie McClurkin. Entitled "Just For Me", it's a gently rolling and glorious praise set to a masterful melody that stands out as a album wonder. The lyrics are worthy of reprinting.

What does the Cross of Jesus mean
It's more than a song we sing
Much more than an emblem on a chain
But it means I'm free
From the chains that enslaved me
And the blood He shed won't let my sins remain
(click here for more lyrics)

—Just For Me

Adrian Smith (Agee)Nestled between these jewels are ten cuts that flow with a predominantly urban touch, but always maintaining the Gospel vibe. "Praise Medley" stands alone amidst them as a simple but powerful collage of familiar tunes that Smith lays on the altar on a bed of piano accompaniment from Leroy Hyter.

You can't go wrong with this pick. You'll see why Adrian Smith has found himself welcome amidst so many of Gospel's most gifted psalmists over the years.

Producers: Dana Davis, Billy Meadows
album release date: May 23, 2000
Real Deal Records

reviewed by Stan North

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