James Grear & Company
Don't Give Up

This choir album in urban style deserves a review. It has surprised many with its strength on the Billboard gospel charts, but particularly by its vault up the R&B charts (having hit a high-mark of #34 with a bullet in May 1998). That's right up there with the likes of CeCe Winans, God's Property and Karen Clark-Sheard.

There are a number of things that popped out when going through this project. Firstly, there are some big names attached. For example there is former Sounds of Blackness lead soloist Ann Nesby who is featured on the track "Lord How I Need You". (Her daughter, Jamecia Nesby, takes many James Grear & Co.of the solo leads in the rest of the album, showing a greatness and power of voice directly comparable with her mother).

The link with Sounds of Blackness continues with the inclusion of the beat-driven, bass-heavy "You Said" penned by Billy Steele (who is known for his song-writing for the group).

There is also a gospel and an urban/pop mix of the Diane Warren tune "Because You Loved Me". The familiarity of this song, combined with the inspirational, non-gospel cut "Beautiful Black People" (which was released as a radio single to gospel and urban radio to coincide with Black History Month) probably goes some way to explain the R&B success of this album.

James Grear & Co. are more than simply a cross-over wonder however. Gospel heads obviously are appealed to by the strong urban vibe of cuts such as "Song of Repentance" and "Adversity".

Quite the interesting album.

Producers: Various
Born Again Records

reviewed by Stan North

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