Various Artists
Jesus Epic Mini-series Soundtrack

Presented as a soundtrack inspired by the epic Jesus Epic Mini-Series, this project does an admirable job of trying tackling the many sounds prevalent in ‘inspirational’ music today.

Well-known artists spanning a vast spectrum of styles have come together to offer up a mix of remakes and originals. While for the most part, Jesus Epic Mini-series Soundtrackthe vibe is a mix of pop and country, there is a definite Gospel component, so let’s focus in on that.

One of the most interesting cuts on the 12-track album is a little compilation all to itself. Call “City By A River” a compilation within a compilations. Featuring soul rockers Hootie and the Blowfish, this original song (penned by frontman Darius Rucker) combines the efforts of the BeBe Winans as well as the very powerful mass vocal sounds of The Faith Tabernacle Choir (under the direction of Michael Ross). Known for their traditional knock-down punch on the ever-popular set from Bishop Ronald E. Brown’s Having Old Fashioned Church series (see review), they more than exceed expectations here.

Interestingly, Bryon Cage assists with the arrangements on the song, along with Winans. Lyrically, it’s one of those ‘positive songs’ —not straight-up Gospel. As a piece of trivia, and not mentioned in the credits, Faith Tabernacle included Malaco solo artist Bryan Wilson as one of its members for the purposes of this recording.

As the most recognizable Gospel name on this soundtrack, Yolanda Adam’s contribution is a memorable one, as she spins her vocals around the classic Earth, Wind & Fire tune, “Shining Star”. Taking it to stellar urban heights, she wraps the familiar melody in a modified lyric towards the end of the song:

On an adventure of the Son (that's S-o-n)
Thought my work had just begun
Found out, found out
Thought I had to stir the mood
I can do all things through You

So, if you find yourself in need
Why don't you listen to these words of heed
Be a child that's free of sin

—from "Shining Star"

Other cuts of note are LeAann Rimes’ “I Need You”, which is a beautifully rendered country ballad (with a dollop of From the Jesus Epic Mini-Series on CBSsoul), and a gritty, rootsy take on “Jesus, He Love Me” from jazz-roots soulster Edwin McCain.

On the other hand, “The Love That You’ve Been Waiting For” from the popular Motown pop harmonizers, 98°, doesn’t really deliver. Lyrically tame, the potential in this group’s contribution is not realized.

Rounding out this special event collection are pop/rock contributions from Avalon, Steven Curtis Chapman, Jaci Velasquez, DC Talk and Lonestar. There’s also the classical classic “Pie Jesu” from Sarah Brightman as well as the orchestral theme of the mini-series from Patrick Williams.

You can check the music out for yourself at the soundtrack's website.

Producers: various
album release date: March 28, 2000
Capitol / Sparrow

— reviewed by Stan North

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