James Fortune & FIYA

Breaking the record for consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Gospel single charts, "I Trust You" opened many doors for James Fortune and FIYA. Fortune has been traveling a great deal, and he was blessed to perform on the 2010 BET Celebration of Gospel, and the 2010 Stellar Awards.

His newest offering, Encore, on the Black Smoke Music / World Wide Gospel label features a guest list of artists that include Kierra "Kiki" Sheard, J. Drew Sheard, Isaac Caree, Canton Jones and Erica Cumbo. Production is ably handled by Terrance Vaughn, J. Drew Sheard and Ayron Lewis.

CD  Cutting to the songs, "Bounce Back" is high energy; the vibe of the song puts you in the mind of a college band melded with mass gospel vocals. The message is clear! This is the type of song that made Fortune a mainstay in youth services across Houston during their early days.

Nod your head to the soulful ditty, "Holy Ghost Holiday" featuring Canton Jones and the cool raspy vocals of Erica Cumbo.

The message of trusting God is something that has helped thrust Fortune into the forefront of Gospel fans' hit lists. With the economy still hurting and with the earthquake tragedy that so recently struck Haiti fresh in the mind, the lead single and title track is sure to stay in rotation from car radios to iPods. Rather than relying on recycled phrases and clichés, Fortune together with co-songwriter Terrance Vaughn bring freshness in their songwriting by asking God for a "repeat performance".

J. Drew Sheard produces and co-leads "You've Been", a hearty mid-tempo jam with Kierra on co lead. J. Drew's falsetto is smooth like butter, and James serves as the emcee, assuring that it's still a FIYA album and not a compilation.

For those who have compared FIYA's acclaimed soloist Zacardi Cortez to Lowell Pye, you will be delighted to hear the two together on the wonderful song of praise, "You Are Here".

Fortune and Ayron Lewis co-write "Holy Are You Are", a pop love song to God. Cheryl Fortune does a great job of vocal arrangements on this one. Isaac Caree also ably interprets the Fortune/Lewis writing collaboration on "I Want To Praise You".

Anaysha Figuroa is back to lead on "Draw Me Nearer", her lead vocals and adlibs along with the engaging backing vocals of FIYA making it a winner. Cortez sings the hymn of the same name and takes us straight to church with his "how does he do that?" vocals.

Indeed, Encore is an appropriate title for this recording, as James Fortune and FIYA are back with another great album, featuring a message of restoration and God's faithfulness through tough times.

Encore James Fortune, Encore!

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Production: Terrance Vaughn, J. Drew Sheard and Ayron Lewis
album release date: January 26, 2010
Black Smoke / World Wide Gospel

— review by Dwayne Lacy

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