Rev. Benjamin Cone Jr.
The House Is Open

The tradition of story telling and narration is rich in Gospel, with familiar names such as Shirley Caesar, Edna Tatum, Dorothy Norwood and Rev. James Cleveland bringing fond memories to the hearts of many.

Also on that list is Rev. Benjamin Cone Jr., an artist whose primary link with The Mississippi Mass Choir lies in his pastoral responsibilities. But he is also associated with storytelling hits on their projects such as “Birds” and “Pull The Wagon”.

Rev. Benjamin Cone Jr. CDThe Georgia native brings his thunderously deep, voice to his fourth solo album of stories, The House Is Open. Put this one into your system, and the room resonates with eleven dramatic tracks of exhortation, testimony, prayer, teaching, poetry and childhood recollections transformed into spiritual lessons for today. You can check the liner notes for scriptural references for each one.

The emphasis throughout is on Rev. Cone’s measured, spoken, vocals, with added touches from David Curry’s softly meandering Hammond organ and the occasional foray from bass, piano and drums. “World’s Prayer” and “Exchanging Gifts” are heartfelt prayers, while “Dear Beloved” is a superb example of Rev. Cone’s creative ability to make fresh the crucial fact that God desires a deep, personal relationship with us.

The highlight on the album would certainly be the title track. It’s the only one where choir vocals play a part, as both The Mississippi Mass Choir as well as Benjamin Cone III and Worship join forces to create swells and vibrato-rich call and responses. Referencing Jesus’ statement in Revelation 3:20 that He stands at the door and knocks, the words and lyrics respond and an accept His awesome offer, saying that “The House Is Open”. It’s a track that is at once melodic and uplifting, and no doubt bound for hitsville.

The lowest voice in Gospel finds his niche once again. Rev. Benjamin Cone Jr. is in the House.

Producer: Rev. Benjamin Cone Jr.
album release date: November 2000
Malaco Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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