The spiritual foundation of certain landmark historical events is frequently dismissed by commentators. The vision and subsequent action of Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. is one example, the quiet, firm resistance of Rosa Parks is another.Producers: Various
album release date: February 13, 2001
But many in Gospel music, through musical reference and tribute, have long recognized that such events, while socially important, would not have happened without their main players’ firmly held convictions of justice, self-worth and righteousness as defined and rooted in their faith in Jesus Christ.
So give major props to the people behind the new HBO docu-drama Boycott, which brings the Rosa Parks story back to life through its vivid depiction of the famous Montgomery bus boycott that was a catalyst for the civil rights movement. They wisely turned to EMI Gospel to assemble a roster of mostly Gospel talent to enhance the soundscape of this cinematic feature. (Click here for HBO airtimes)
Things start off very correct. “King” is the lead single from the soundtrack, and features the duo of Darwin Hobbs and Elektra’s newest lady, Karen Clark-Sheard. Wielding their extraordinary vocal power, it’s a classic case of synergy. Alone, both Hobbs and Clark-Sheard are powerhouses. Together their sum is more than than dangerous, taking them into ‘beyond compare’ territory. An uptempo R&B groove, produced by Sanchez Harley aptly captures the mood of the era, and supporting background vocals from Tiffany Palmer, Duane Starling and Chris Willis add the finishing touch.
Bishop TD Jakes brings us Beverly Crawford and The Potters House Choir on Bob Dylan’s “Gotta Serve Somebody”. Hot horns offer the added kick to solid choir and the usual explosive contribution by Crawford, who is newly signed to Jakes’ Dexterity Sounds label. It’s great to hear her again, the appetite is only whetted for more.
Reappearances of some 1999 and 2000 hits come from Kirk Franklin’s "Revolution", and Montrell Darrett’s neo-retro sounds on “Rain” and “Issues”. Bebe Winans’ “Jesus Children of America” featuring his brother Pastor Marvin Winans and Stevie Wonder is also in the mix.
And on the flashback tip, an archival cut from Nat King Cole immerse us in the musical timeline of the movie on "Walking My Baby Back Home". Likewise for “Swing Low Sweet Cadillac” with Dizzy Gillespie. The bluesy “Smokey Jack” from the The Smokey Jack Blues Band, fits in well with these classics, being an original instrumental penned and produced by Carlos Pennel.
Pennel is also all over “Blind Man”, producing, arranging and handling guitar for this cover of the well-known song. Both Darwin Hobbs and the underrated Molly Johnson take the duet to its bluesy swing excess. On “Ella’s Song”, freedom is celebrated with some rootsy vocals and percussion from Sweet Honey In The Rock, with Aaron Neville adding his touch, and Lamar Campbell and Spirit Of Praise lending support on this catchy winner written by Michael Anthony Taylor.
There’s new music from Donald Lawrence and the TriCity Singers on “What A Time”. Arnetta Murrill-Crooms fronts this mid-tempo acappella anticipation of our gathering in heaven. The enthusiasm in her voice is such that her words seem at times to slip from the restrains of the melody.
The project is toasted at the end with a bonus track, “United We Stand”, from Brent Jones and the TP Mobb. With The Katinas joining Jones, and with Ann McCreary and Kim Fleming tossing in ad libs, this is a warmly emotional, hand waving and wholly appropriate conclusion for this wonderfully diverse and enjoyable soundtrack.
reviewed by Stan North and Melanie Clark —
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