Gospel Snapshot (2)

Welcome to the next segment of our 'Gospel snapshots'. Deserving of attention but usually not found on the front row of retail, this is our bit to fix all that. (Check also our previous snapshot page as well as our hip-hop snapshot page).

Rhonda McLemore
Simply Rhonda
S.I.C. Records
Rhonda McLemore CD Rhonda McLemore has that big sound that is quickly becoming identified with Texas. Think Kim Burrell or Nikki Ross and you can’t help but include Miss McLemore. Simply Rhonda on S.I.C. Records out of Houston is a solid collection of songs with the strong binding element of one impeccable voice.

At the helm are producers Chris Walker and McLemore's husband, singer/songwriter Shawn McLemore. Highlight tunes are “When You Love Someone”, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus” and “To You” which is set to jazz oriented framework. McLemore is joined by her family, The Jacksons on “Let Jesus Fix It”, letting you know where her skills come from.

“My Tribute” ministers to those who have experienced loss. It is penned by McLemore herself, who in 1992 experienced the loss of her 15 month old in a car accident, along with three other relatives. As evidence that what seems like the end of your strength just might prove to be the being fortified in Him, McLemore pushes through and continues to confound with her fortitude and voice.

Malcolm Williams and the Voices of Great Faith
Gotta Make It
Think Big Records
Malcolm Williams CD What a joy this album is. Pure traditional choir anointing in a live setting —that says it all. Malcolm Williams and the Voices of Great Faith deliver an absolutely fresh Chicago vibe on Gotta Make It. Near perfect diction, creative arrangements, clear production from Daniel Weatherspoon and vocal qualities that are sparked with excitement, Williams and crew are helped by Adrian B. King on organ, Weatherspoon again on keyboard and Alvin Willis on guitar. Elder DeAndre Patterson delivers the closing, churchy cut, "Sunday Morning Praise".

"Believe I'll Testify" rides along on a contemporary groove that cries for dance. Equally effective but on another plane altogether is the version of "Ezekial". You might think that another acapppella interpretation of this popular classic would be tired. You would be wrong, as Greater Faith wows with a range of dynamics that stuns, especially when the choir whispers one verse. Subtleties of arrangment put a cherry on top of this zinger track. On "Again", Alvin Willis with his extended forays on electic guitar underneath the mass vocals make song memorable. There's so much more on this project. Treat yourself and find it, for it's the definition of a sleeper.

Bishop Andre Woods and Chosen
Sound of Gospel
Bishop Andre Woods and Chosen CD Bishop Andre Woods returns to the scene with an eponymously-titled project of a dozen church hymn interpretations. Backed by the six members of Chosen, Woods doesn't stray far from the sounds that you'd no doubt hear it on Sunday morning at Revival Tabernacle Church of Christ in Detroit, where he pastors.

No doubt, this group would be much better represented in a live setting. However even with studio limitations, Woods and Chosen demonstrate a tenacious grasp of the musical approach that got us here. They know when to keep it slow, and don't hesitate stray from the text when personal testimony is called for. Musically, the vibe is free flowing, with accompaniment following lead and chorus. "I Will Look To The Hills" with Dawn Byers and Ray Hunter on lead is exemplary of that. Other cuts of note are the marching "I Want To Be A Christian" and the mellow "I Surrender All".

Far from the rage of urban music and millenial production values, Bishop Woods and Chosen nevertheless show the bedrock strength of Gospel in the land. Solid Billboard chart showings for this project over the latter half of 2000 are testimony to that.

Rowan University Inspirational Gospel Choir
Church on Campus "Live"
Rowan University Inspiration Gospel Choir CD The finest traditions of campus choirs is displayed on this quality live project from Rowan University's gifted vocalists and psalmists. Under the direction of John W. Howard Jr., and musical direction from Michael Stokes Jr., the Glassboro, New Jersey choir excels in showing a diversity of cuts, fused together with the contemporary East coast Gospel sound.

Choir alumnus, Professor Craig Hayes (see review), makes a guest appearance on "Let The Weak Say I'm Strong", a song written by Jerod L. Howard (musical director for Franklin "Bubby" Fann —see review). Fann himself also contributes, penning the new-fangled but thumpily traditional sounding "There Is A Blessing". Other highlights on the project are the acapella "Angels Watching Over Me" and the infectious "All Praise" and "So Much". Each of these three with the stamp of John Howard Jr. on them, they sum up this 'church on campus'.

— reviewed by GospelFlava.com Staff

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