James Fortune & FIYA
You Survived

The words are simple, comforting and empowering. You Survived.

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 CDreality 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.

Interview with James Fortune
Click for review Gospelflava.com asked James Fortune to give some background info on his hit song, "You Survived". Here's what he said:

"You Survived" was originaly not even going to be on the CD, because GOD hadn't given it to me yet. But when I first got ready to release the album, everything was put on hold because the devil had really started attacking me from every direction. I mean, my family, my marriage, my job, my finances, ministry —everything. I actually thought very seriously about giving up on ministry altogether. That's when GOD gave me the song "You Survived", and he began to show me that even in the wilderness, He was still with me. He taught me that even though sometimes I couldn't understand why He would allow me to go through so much, that it was still all working out for my good, and that He was actually preparing me for the assignment that had already been prepared for me. I have received so many emails and messages from people all over the country who have been blessed by the song, and all I can is To GOD be the Glory, because had He NOT allowed me to go through that stuff, the song would have never have come out. That's why I say to singers and writers, don't be so quick to complain about your difficult circumstances, because what you are going through may birth your next song that will reach millions.

Yes, the entire album is a treat, not only because of the several notable guest artists who command the mic in front of FIYA, but also for the overall unified sound and vibe of the project, not to mention the quality-infused enthusiasm that the album is soaked in.

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.

FIYAEB (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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Producers: James Fortune, Terence Vaughn, Joseph Hearne
album release date: September, 2004
World Wide Gospel

— reviewed by Stan North

  All content in GospelFlava © copyright 2004. No information to be reprinted or re-broadcast from this site without the expressed written consent of GospelFlava.com. All rights reserved.

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