Rev. James Cleveland's GMWA Mass Choir
Standing In Need of a Blessing
MCG 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).Producers: Jerry Peters, Rodena Preston-Williams
album release date: April 18, 2000
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.
"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.
GMWA Men's Chorus
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.
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 into 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.
reviewed by Stan North —
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