University of Michigan Flint Gospel Choir
University choirs have lately enjoyed a reputation for high-powered energy and good quality recordings. (The University of Mississippi Gospel Choir’s Grammy-nominated album Send Up The Praise from Malaco is great case in point see album review).Producer: Paris Rideout
album release date: September 27, 2001
That reputation now extends to Michigan.
The campus was evidently on fire as The University of Michigan–Flint Gospel Choir lit vocal blazes for their debut live recording, Colorblind, for Advance Records.
Multi-ethnic in nature, the choir rejoices in their diversity, delivering an authentic Gospel sound and interpreting original ballads, funky jams and straight up church. Director Dr. Carl Byerly has done a masterful job at bringing together these students into unity of sound; it’s evident from the worshipful tone of the project that they already had a unity of purpose.
Pick cuts are peppered from tracks 1 through 15.
The opener “Get Your Praise On” brings the choir into focus with clearly-sung barrage of quick lyrics set to a boisterous and funk-driven band ride. The cut frames the project both structurally and thematically. It’s reprised in a much-different, dance-formatted remix from William Kilgore at the album’s end.
Two ballads stand out in particular. The aptly-named “In Harmony” features the voice blending of Randy McEntire, Gail Kreason along with Jeanine Byerly to portray the message of unity in the body of Christ.
The title cut also features McEntire, whose standout resonant and soulful tenor on the opening solo soothingly puts the focus again on unity: “no one greater in this kingdom, we’re all one in family to serve and praise our Father, He designed in perfectly.”
“Stand Still” and “Welcome Holy Spirit”, both from the pen of Jeanine Byerly, and “All That I Need” written by Gail Kreason are each well-crafted choir songs arranged in standard soft-contemporary Gospel. The latter is particularly infectious with its simmering vibe, piano and synth interplay and alto solo from Tiffanie Lewis.
Also of note is “Praise Ringing”, a joyful and rhythmic number set to a boisterous Carribean beat and little bit of exotic percussion. Choir voices join the dance with syncopated praises. Then there’s “Praise Break”, which is exactly what you expect.
It is obvious that the students in the University of Michigan–Flint Gospel Choir are singing with a far greater purpose than mere academic credit. With heart-renderings and a vocal outpouring, they are giving credit to He who deserves it.
reviewed by Stan North —
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