That's the title of the debut project from Houston's James Fortune & FIYA, and it's the name of the powerful title cut that's been making the radio rounds. Addressing the reality that God has brought us over the mountains in our lives, it's both an urban song of comfort and a fresh song of praise.
FIYA (standing for Free In Yahweh’s Abundance) is a youthful, nearly all-female ensemble (13:2 female:male ratio), which gives it a distinctive sound. As leader of the group, James Fortune takes on much the same sort of responsibilities that fellow Texan Kirk Franklin assumes: songwriter, producer and ad lib vocalizer.
No surprise then, that Fortune claims Franklin (and John P. Kee and Kim Burrell) as major musical influences. The Youth Music Minister for Southwest Community Church (in Houston) sees to it that the project is urban, hype and vocals-based.
Joining Fortune and FIYA is Joseph Hearne, who both creates the tracks, and co-produces. Musical director Terence Vaughn also produces.
Fortune describes the album as "uplifting and encouraging". In addition to "You Survived", there's plenty more to chose from in that vein, with "You Can Make It" and "I'm Still Here" among the offerings.
Shawn McClemore drops by lend his voice to "You Are Holy", a simmering praise groove that begins with unison background vocals before unfolding into ad lib worship. Nikki Ross-Turnley adds her vocal presence to "He's Mighty". Her acrobatic turns and twirls fit nicely into the Latin backdrop of the cut.
After a devastingly dramatic intro-lude, newcomer Micah Stampley (recently signed to TD Jakes' Dexterity Sound record label) pours his heart into "God Can", a ministering ballad that is one of the album's high points. Stampley's soulful tenor laid over FIYA's harmonies needs to be heard to be appreciated.
EB (aka Gerry Monroe) tackles the hands-up hotness that is "My Dance (remix)", laying his hard-edged, crunk rap flow into the street cut. Also hype is "Praise Anthem" and its remix. Contrasting is "We Welcome", which is one of the sweetest, harmony-filled smooth ballads you could hope to find.
Look for James Fortune & FIYA to continue to create a buzz. With their message, ministering hearts, high quality vocals and sizzling music, how could they not?
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World Wide Gospel
— reviewed by Stan North —
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