In The Year 2000
This is not a top 10 list!
Rather, it's what we considered to be essential music in Gospel released to the market this year. You will recognize many of these projects. And some you may have never heard of.
But in our opinion, they defined the sound, the spirit, and the essence of Gospel over the past 12 months. And those reasons are as varied as the sounds that make up the albums. Let the people know what you think, because you probably have your own thoughts on this topic!
A Call to Worship
Ever find yourself what happened to the big East coast choir sound? Worried that it wasn’t going to carry over into the new millennium? Well this choir out of Connecticut will put your mind at ease. Power is the word through and through, with a sound so purely Gospel that it’s only a matter of time before the secret is out. Coupled with some well constructed tunes, and backed by some off the hook musicians, Youthful Praise gives us hope in the choral future.
Bishop Andrew Merritt and the Straight Gate Mass Choir
Faith In The House
You’ll be hard pressed to find a more soul-satisfying praise and worship offering than this. Recorded live in Bishop Andrew Merritt’s Sunday morning worship, the project is generates appeal in cut after cut. Bruce Parham, Vanessa Williams, Dana Powell and others make it a memorable experience, and producer Steven Ford has never been better. The project reached the top chart spot, and deserved to spend far more than a week there.
Gospel with an authentic island vibe has never been stronger, as many of Jamaica’s top notch artists have now thrown in the secular towel and have come forth girded in the righteous robes of the saints of Jesus Christ. Stitchie is one of them, and his Real Power project on the Gospel reggae label Lion of Zion Entertainment is a fine example of what this sub-genre has to offer.
The intensest hype in Gospel didn’t disappoint, as this ground breaker was finally released in summer 2000 after years of red tape holding it back. Innovative and still fresh, even though it was recorded as long as four years ago in some instances, Tonéx showers funky blessings with hard-edged lyricism throughout. As the latest in great creative musical minds to hit the industry, the album showcases what to expect from the man as he continues to follow the exciting path that God is carving out for him.
Vying for top spots on both Gospel and mainstream radio, Mary Mary crossed over by delivering scripture-infused jams, served straight up with tight harmonies and intense melodies. From covers of James Cleveland to tear-generating soaring ballads to hip hop flava’d grooves, and with Warryn Campbell guiding the way on production, these sisters continue to open the ears of all those who would hear (Matthew 11:15).
VIDEO: Live in London and More
The essence of Donnie McClurkin is not found in his notes, his vast range, his expressive thoughts or his dynamic arrangements. It’s much more. The Live in London and More video showcases exactly what that means, and you need only listen to and watch the packed congregation, as they listen to and respond to McClurkin’s music ministry. Jammed with expertise and excellence on all levels, both visually, creatively and aurally, the video is one of the years’ Gospel wonders.
David P. Stevens
From Thoughts To Actions
Practically no-one has heard of David P. Stevens outside the Philly perimeter. Yet with his gathering of highly gifted friends, this project defines the brand of quality that emerged on the independent scene this year. Acoustic deep soul, forceful approaches to telling The Story, and a glowing set of tracks reveal that God is not through with giving us genius psalmists yet. All that this one lacked is the right exposure.
John P Kee
A far-reaching and ambitious mega project that doesn’t fall short, it encapsulates all that is the Prince of Gospel. This project has it all; somehow, Kee finds a way to make hand-clapping songs that belong 'just over the Durham County line' feel right at home with street-ready vibes and even jaw-dropping hip hop concoctions, all on the same disk make that disks, because this was a twin affair. Tied together with the gloriously powerful “not guilty” theme of redemption, this project wins on all counts.
Wax Museum: The Mix Tape
We choose this wax museum because not only is it Gospel’s first commercially available mixed CD, but because the hip hop talent that DJMaj molds into his work is gathering of Gospel’s hip hop characteristic of the energy, the enthusiasm, the dedication and the all-out abandon of hearts immersed in street culture, beating for God.
Rev. James Moore
Family and Friends Live from Detroit
The last album that brought us more of Reverend Moore’s tremendous gift. Good bye, Reverend Moore. We miss you tremendously, our sorrow muted only by your present peace in Him, and by the knowledge that we will no doubt be hearing you sing again!
Lee Williams and the Spiritual QCs
Don’t let the success of urban jams lull you into thinking that traditional quartets are fading away. Lee Williams delivers one of the brightest traditional quartet projects in recent memory with this live project.
You're The Reason
This sleeper from Real Deal Records garners the question, “who is that?” every time we play it. A nice bunch of songs sung by an absolutely impeccable voice make this one one you shouldn’t miss. Nothing flashy or busy here, just solid. Worthy of a nod, for sure.
Chester T. Baldwin and the Music Ministry Mass Choir
Sing It On Sunday Morning!
With music like this, the traditional choir will never lose its share of support. Chester T. Baldwin brought one of the years’ strongest surprises to the fore with a project chock full of great songs, textured power and sincere, honest ministry. Others agree, as evidenced by the high echelons of chart territory the album continues to rest in. Sing it on Sunday Morning for sure, and through the rest of the week as well.
Fred Hammond and Radical For Christ
Purpose By Design
Continuing on his lifelong quest of creating new standards, Hammond comes in strong after his last release. Proving again that you can never count him out, Hammond hits hard with th hottest band, cleanest vocals and thought provoking lyrics. If you’re a Hammond fan, no one has to tell you to add this one to your Fred chronicles. If (gasp!) you just haven’t heard him yet, start here and work backwards.