Chicago Mass Choir
Live in Nashville

The prolific Chicago Mass is back. Rejoice, traditional choir fans, as the Windy City’s famed voices step it up with another abundance of great church music for mass voices. It’s Live in Nashville and it’s 11 tracks in length.

Percy Gray Jr. sits in the producer’s chair again on this project, the choir’s second for New Haven Records. His brother, Jeral Gray Sr., is musical director.

CDThe festival begins with Kelvon Carter’s song, “I Cannot Tell It All”. The lyrics are familiar, but set to a pleasing melody and with the choir’s free vocal expression, the song comes alive as, the meaning of the words evident in joyous jubilation.

“I Need Your Spirit” takes on a funkier mantle, with songwriter Percy Gray vocally out front over brassy band flairs.

The beloved Lemmie Battles makes her appearance memorable on the traditional drive of “I”m Going with Jesus”. Battles’ pattered delivery propels the song, her vocal power acting as an engine along with rhythmic hand claps, bass work and pounding piano chords from Phillip Feaster.

Other album high points include “I Found Jesus” with choir director Dr. Feranda Williamson soloing. Tammy Smith’s tender rendering on “High Praise” stands out, as does Patricia Clifton’s sensitive delivery on the companion worship piece, “Praise Jehovah”.

Sharay Reed beautifully arranges the powerful choir ballad “Holy Spirit”, which may just be the project’s finest number. This song has all that is needed to keep it spinning on radio for years to come: great hook, catchy melody and creative choir parts worked into an inspired lyric.

Live in Nashville has the extra bonus of DVD/ Video availability, making the experience a visual option as well.

Producers: Percy Gray Jr.
album release date: December, 2002
New Haven Records

— review by Stan North

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