DeAndre Patterson
The Progressive Radio Choir & Friends
I Made It

DeAndre Patterson CD You just gotta love it when an album hits you by surprise, blessing, kicking and jamming all at once.

Such is the case with DeAndre Patterson and The Progressive Radio Choir’s latest project, I Made It. The Chicago-based choir has been around since the late 70's, founded by Apostle Donald L. Alford, and with their hit single "He's Alive" from a couple years back, has been generating enthusiasm from all who hear them.

Combining masterful production from Dwayne Draine, head-shaking, clench-tight sounds from a formidable band of Levites and a overall melting of funk into traditional, this most recent project satisfies completely.

The album blazes out the jewel case with “There’s Nobody Like Him”. Starting with a quick bass rev and several quick pounding funky chords, the song quickly spins into a cut that defines the phrase, ‘choir jam’. The song is evidence that Patterson writes very well.

DeAndre PattersonMore of the choir director and vocalist’s own material crop up frequently —on seven of the album’s eleven songs in fact. “Broken Pieces” is one his gems, a uniquely flava’d composition that uses sustained keys, gentle guitar (from Joey Woolfalk) and soft studio-layered male harmonies to anchor Patterson’s resonant vocal lead that relates his relationship with Jesus Christ to one shipwrecked and rescued, ‘coming in on broken pieces’.

The title cut slams with its fresh accordian-like synth effects distinguishing the vibe. Wonderfully hooky on the chorus, the song will have no trouble floating on top of radio playcharts.

Several of the Chicago choir’s friends stop by to lend support (not that the choir needs it). Tommies alumnus Ms. Tonex (aka Zsa Zsa or Yvette Graham as she was known as at the time of this live recording) stuns with her rendition of “Close To Thee”. With a new arrangement from Patterson, she employs plenty of runs and effects to make her vocal point, and yet never overdoes it. PRC ably supports with smoothed vocals in contrast to the the solo lead on this lengthy cut.

And you will no doubt be putting a star beside the cover of Darius Brooks' “Before His Word Fails” with its wall of joyous keyboards and frantic bass and guitar that backdrop the choir’s emphatic message.

DeAndre PattersonKeep that box of stars handy, because several other cuts are star-worthy, including a nice rework of Benny Cummings’ church classic “Stop By” and Tanya Jones’ nice alto lead on the slower “You Are The King of Kings”. You’ll easily find other songs to play over and over as well.

Could DeAndre Patterson and the Progressive Radio Choir be Gospel’s next choir to blow up the scene?

Judging from I Made It, they very well might be.

Producers: Dwayne Draine, DeAndre Patterson, Ruben Locke Jr.
album release date: June, 2001
Holy Spirit Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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