Byron Cage

Byron Cage drops his self titled GospoCentric debut, and worshippers everywhere should celebrate.

As a respected worship leader, Cage has quietly helped bolster the praise and worship presence in Gospel by seeding it and feeding it at home —the church. Currently Senior Minister of Church Worship at Ebenezer A.M.E. Church, Cage is certainly qualified to help bring a nation to a time and space of true worship.

 CD The project is guided by labelmate Kurt Carr who steps into the production seat to spin a collection tunes that were recorded live at Atlanta's New Birth Cathedral, where Bishop Eddie Long is pastor (and where previously Cage served as music director) Together, Carr and Cage are a potent force, with their many years of experience between them very evident, from opening note to last fade.

The project is marked by strong songwriting from a variety of Gospel's finest, with Cage backed by a hand-picked vocal ensemble that includes several singers from his Purpose days, as well as some voices from The Kurt Carr Singers.

A key cut is the ballad, "It Is To You". Melodically and lyrically pure, it is penned by Pastor Donnie McClurkin and is a simple ode to the Father. It's one of those songs that stays with you long after the CD is back in the jewel case.

Brent Jones submits "Never Too Busy" an old-school freestyle verse that takes you back, and comes with wonderful B3 organ accompaniment.

There's plenty of up-tempo tunes to choose from, with "Magnify" leading the way. Continuing in the same vein is "The Presence of the Lord is Here". A proclaiming march of a song, guitar licks by Jonathan Dubose and punctuated horns by Mo' Horns tie things together, as the piece kicks up a storm.

Slowing things down a bit, "Thou Art A Shield For Me: Psalm 3" features more from Dubose and Byron Cage strings by Larry Gold. Cage opens up vocally and renders a raw, smooth verse that eloquently in word and tone express gratitude for His protection.

"There Is A Name," another contribution from Carr, captures the power that resides in a simple worship verse. Cage guides more than sings here, but listen closely. When he shows up, he does so fabulously.

Cage sings a bit more, and certainly as gloriously on a medley that includes remakes of his Full Gospel Baptist Mass Choir successes, "Yet Praise Him" and "Shabach", but begins with the gentle but wildly infectious Carribean-tinged melody of "The Glory Song" (which was first heard on Cage's Dwell Among Us album with Purpose).

Byron Cage brings cohesiveness to this diverse collection of worship tunes. His heart for worship, coupled with his leadership ability gives his sweet-toned voice wings, and is a clarion call for vertical musical praise.

Producer: Kurt Carr
album release date: February 18, 2003
GospoCentric Records

— reviewed by Melanie Clark

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