It's Not About Me

Ametria CDAmetria Doss boldly hits the Gospel scene with her debut solo project, titled It’s Not About Me. Referred to only by her first name, the velocity of advance buzz that Ametria has already created is rare. There is a reason.

This 12-tracker is historic in that it is the first 'new artist' Gospel release from MCA Records. And when you consider that the list of writers contributing to the project is a virtual 'who’s who' of R&B’s finest talent, you see why you have an attention-getter on your hands. And yet, looking past all that, it soon becomes evident that it is the quality of content that makes this project a winner.

The opening track sets the standard and the mood. Titled “God Is So Good”, it's a smooth, urban, keyboard-styled groove with a simple yet profound hook that stays pleasantly trapped in your mind. Written by Mary J. Blige, it showcases Ametria’s vocal abilities and is supported by impeccable background harmonies.

Speaking of those abilities, the quality of Ametria's pipes bely the fact that she is a relative youngster (see interview). With her gentle raspy alto, it's easy to see why Blige is a perfect fit to work with her. Sometimes the similarity in their styles is amazing.

The urban slow jams continue with “Prayer Changes Things”. The message to this short song is wrapped in the song’s title, and is enhanced by the tune's strong melodic hook. Mary J BligePenned by Montell Jordan, it expresses the importance and power of prayer and strong faith in God. Other strong urban grooves include “No Weapons” (also by Blige) and “I Find Shelter” (another Jordan song).

MCA has already dubbed the 19-year-old sensation their "first lady of hip-hop gospel" —a not so far-fetched title when you hear the project. In that vein, Ametria kicks things into high gear with “Come to Me”, featuring Natalie Wilson of SOP fame on background vocals. With production from Joe Wilson, this track has a heavy Northeast hip-hop vibe which keeps the head noddin’ and the jeep bumpin’.

“His Love” is a special track which features Ametria’s mother, Brenda Kelly in duet with her, and is an jazzy, choir-backed take on the classic hymn “Great is thy Faithfulness”.

One of the hottest singles on the project is “Wait”. This duet with Boyz II Men mainstay Wanya Morris, is a well-written song interplay between a couple who express their desire to maintain celibacy within their relationship. It’s a radio-friendly single that is also produced by Morris, and is sure to entertain and educate all listeners while encouraging believers to take a stand for virginity. MCA has centered much of the push of this project behind the single, with live performances of the song by Ametria and Morris on such arenas as the Bobby Jones’ Gospel Explosions.

Another album hotspot is Ametria’s duet with JoJo Hailey on “What The World Needs” —a cut that was written and produced by the former Jodeci member as well. With their voices blending superbly, Hailey's famous grit-gilded tones intertwining smoothly with Ametria's raspy warblings, it's a JoJo Haileycaptivating five minutes. With handclap highlights and a snazzy beat flow, the cut is more inspirational than Gospel in its plea to the world for more love and understanding.

On the words side, the lyricism of the project doesn't always hit as strongly as its music does, which might be a reflection of the wide variety of writers contributing to the album. It would have been nice to see Ametria contribute some songwriting. But this will undoubtedly come with the maturity and experience that comes parceled with the trip that she has embarked upon.

“It’s Not About Me” might just cement Ametria as a force within the industry. With vocals easily fitting into radio rotations alongside those of Faith Evans, Kelly Price, and Mary J. Blige, look for this project to blow up the charts in both the R&B and Gospel realms. The project comes highly recommended.

Producers: Various
album release date: April 11, 2000
MCA Records

— reviewed by Gerard Bonner and Stan North

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