Various Artists
Bridges: Songs of Unity and Purpose

Spanning the chasm that can separate Gospel music from its CCM counterpart, Bridges: Songs of Unity and Purpose seeks to find common ground by creating unique vocal collaborations among well-known (and emerging) artists from both sides.

While the project as a whole is fascinating (who hasn’t tried to put together unlikely pairings in their head?), there are some songs that resonate more than others. Bridges CDHeading that list is the Marvin Sapp / Bob Carlisle / Kirk Whalum remake of the Isley Brothers’ “Caravan of Love”, which under the production of Paul Wright III lends a soothing flow to the classic.

Likewise, the bringing together of Gary Chapman, Colorado Mass Choir and the vastly under-appreciated Chris Willis on “With A Little Love”, is a joy to the ear.

One of the question marks voiced at the consumer grass roots level during the months of build-up to this collaborative effort, was the tone and direction that the project would take.

Would the two styles meet half-way, or would there be some songs with a definite Gospel feel, with others taking more of a pop slant? The answer is that the songwriting and production has been selected to combine the strengths of the individual artists involved, with the result being that much of the material could be tagged as ‘soulful CCM’, but leaning slightly more towards the pop side.

On the issue of lyrics, the project consistently speaks to healing and understand across racial and color boundaries. Although most of the songs do not contain an explicit Gospel message, most will understand that the project has been designed to speak to those who confess Jesus Christ, yet struggle with fleshly remnants of racial tension.

That being said, the words would probably have a stronger impact with a more straight-forward emphasis that true conciliation only comes through Jesus Christ.

Here’s a list of the other collaborations on Bridges:

  • Fred Hammond with Natalie Grant
  • John P. Kee with Lori Wilshire
  • Hezekiah Walker and LFCC with Kathy Troccoli and Helen Baylor
  • Out of Eden with New Song
  • The Canton Spirituals with 4HIM
  • Oleta Adams with Jaci Velasquez
  • Anointed with Russ Taff
  • Clay Crosse with Virtue
  • Daryl Coley with Sandi Patti
In all however, this is a beautifully positioned and intriguing album with enough going for it to appeal to both the Gospel and the CCM fan. It’s also a project that is bound to generate even more questions than it answers, and create endless topics for discussion.

Now, imagine a song with James Hall’s Worship and Praise, with vocal lead by Fred Hammond and Point of Grace……

Producers: Various
album release date: July 13, 1999
Verity / Benson

— reviewed by Stan North —

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