Debra Killings

Verity Records avails its secret weapon in its debut release on Debra Killings' Surrender.

CDThe Secret Weapon —you know, the one who is great at everything —aptly describes Killings. Let’s just say if she were an athlete, she might be Deion Sanders.

She does many different things —writes, produces, sings, plays bass, guitar, drums, and on and on and on —and she does them all exceptionally well.

Killings, a seasoned session singer has played in the supporting casts for artists from Outkast to Aretha Franklin, Jay-Z to Tamia, Curtis Mayfield to Creflo Dollar.

All of her instrumental skills seem to be wrapped up in her vocal chords and her way of expressing them is much akin to skillful playing. Serving up vocals sublime, Killings brings a sweet and fresh quality with her styling.

Dallas Austin produces on the opener that sets the tone for the rest of the project. "Message in the Music" tells a story of how music reaches, grabs, appeals and heals beyond one’s experience of boring church services, wayward wandering and tragedy (see interview and lyrics). Austin joins with former XScaper Kandi Burruss here to write.

“Even When” is a ballad with quiet storm vocals with all sorts of strings featured prominently. Guitar by Jimmy Killings, fluid bass by Debra Killings and strings by Michael McLymore render melodic expression of the gratitude felt in the realization of God’s unconditional love.

“Do Right” is a rock-guitar driven ditty that has that soul-pop feel in a TLC kind of way. In a similar vein is “Oh My God” that musically conveys gratitude and happiness.

Debra KillingsThe bluesy feel of “Come On” is transformed into a methodical encouraging push, powered soley by a lyric. The song is decidedly blues in musical format, but argues the point that contemporary Gospelers have been trying to make for years —it’s all about the words and what a song is saying.

Fred Hammond and Killings glisten together on head-bobber “Because Of Your Love”. Killings hands over the bass work to fellow thumper Hammond, and concentrates on a vocal that flows perfectly over the track. Noel Hall cowrites with Hammond, and Tommie Walker clicks the drumtrack. RFCer PamKenyon Donald adds a steady backing vocal.

Killings has her finger on the preeminent factors in making great music —quality production, skillful musicianship, and awesome vocals with some marketable tunes, and oh yeah, did we mention it’s about Jesus?

Killings is both pitching for success and heading for the end zone.

Producer: Debra Killings
album release date: July 22, 2003
Verity Records

— review by Melanie Clark

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