Rev. James Cleveland's GMWA Mass Choir
Standing In Need of a Blessing

GMWA Mass Choir 1999 CDMCG Records has pumped out the last two GMWA Mass Choir recordings, and this one, recorded in New Orleans in 1999, comes just in time to gain momentum before the convention reconvenes in August (again in New Orleans).

True to form, the project is a treasure trove of traditional mass Gospel, containing as much fun in credit-digging as in listening. With a combination of recognizable names joining with relative unknowns, it's not hard to find some gems.

Patrick Lundy directs the simple praise, "Lover of My Soul", with lead from DC songwriter Stephen Hurd, proving once again that powerful worship can found in simplicity. Choir parts move up and down, with tenors descending in effective harmony.

GMWA Men's Chorus

GMWA Mens Chorus, Live in Los Angeles Tommy Boy Gospel takes the reigns of this GMWA Men's Chorus project, released in spring of 2000, but recorded at the GMWA held in Los Angeles in 1995. Featuring production from Frank Wilson and Asaph Ward (known for his work with Kim Burrell), the release includes songs from Carlton Burgess and Norris Garner.

Click here
for track highlights.
"Halleluah To The King" features the very familiar voice of Debbie Austin. Beginning with a two-minute plus stark solo accompanied by piano, the song then unfolds into an uptempo swing as the mass vocals swing into gear.

The Dorsey classic, "Take My Hand, Precious Lord" is given a new arrangement by Bert Cross, complete with alto sax solos from Donald Hayes, and steady choir vocals running on top of a busy rhythm section. Complex harmonies and a nice lead from Carole Walker make this song a winner, as it neatly splices elements of the familiar treatment we're used to, with enough contemporary spice to propel it towards memory.

For the first time ever, this album is also available in video format, allowing for a super keepsake for the thousands from across the globe who put in days of preparation in rehearsing, preparing and recording for the album. It also offers a window intoGMWA Mass Choir 1999 Video how such a massive project is put together by the GMWA Mass Choir staffers. You can see how each portion of the enormous gathering is divided into separate sections, each simultaneous lead by their own podium-positioned section directors. If you've never been to 'workshop', then you'll certainly find the video to be insightful.

With the 2000 version of the GMWA scheduled for an encore performance in New Orleans, this duo of CD and video will no doubt be snapped up by many.

Producers: Jerry Peters, Rodena Preston-Williams
album release date: April 18, 2000
MCG Records

reviewed by Stan North

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