Chris Simpson

You may not think you know Chris Simpson, but I am sure you do. You probably know Simpson's voice from his lead vocals on "Jesus Is The Reason For The Season" from Kirk Franklin and the Familyís much-loved Christmas album, or from Montrel Darrett's J2K project (see review).

Conversion CDSimpson has been with, and parted ways from two of the biggest names in Gospel. Now itís time for him to make his mark.

The first thing you will take notice on Conversion is the richness of this voice. Tonal sweetness and outright skill make for a nice combination, and itís this combo that guides you through his project.

Interestingly enough, Simpson has a John Kee "thing" that he can pull out when he wants to. On "I Am Encouraged" in particular, he sounds like a young Kee's vocal twin, not to mention the similarity of song structure down to the vamp. It leaves no doubt in your mind that Simpson has studied the Crown Prince of Gospel. (See interview with Chris Simpson)

Yet however uncanny the similarities, Simpson clearly has a voice and mind of his own. You leave assured that this is merely a small part of who Simpson is vocally. A great example of this choral dexterity is on theConversion CD Donnie Hathaway tinged "Healed" where Simpson transforms into a much different singer. The tune, dedicated to those stricken with the AIDS virus, is a beautiful display of the tonal resonance of Simpson's voice against the pale of keys and strings nicely arranged by Garland 'Miche' Waller.

Some other bright spots on the project include "World Changer" where an incredible Spanish guitar by Rick Howard dances around pared down vocals from Simpson. And "You Keep Me Holding On" tells the testimony of each of us who is redeemed. Waller is again on keys and there's a nice percussive touch by Duke who keeps the congas appropriately simple.

Chris Simpson's Conversion adds intensely skillful vocals to a healthy array of tunes, and the combination makes this a project that just might make you into a convert. Do yourself a service and donít let this one catch you napping. If you don't know who Chris Simpson is, make sure you get to know and I guarantee you won't soon forget.

Producer: Miche Waller
album release date: July, 2000
Higher Ground / Orpheus

ó reviewed by Melanie Clark ó

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