Miami Music Workshop Choir
Jesus Is The Real Thing

Workshop projects hold special place in Gospel for their role in bringing the ministry of unheralded psalmists into the limelight. With the Miami Music Workshop Choir, producers Marc and Joy Cooper have a rich source of artists from which to choose. This is not a Miami Mass Choir project, but does offer many of the same players. And with multiple choir directors on the project, (Stephen English, Tim Littlejohn, Joy Cooper, David Miller, Terrance Clayton) it makes for a varied approach.

Recorded live in June 1999 at Bishop Curry’s New Birth Baptist Church in Miami, the CD rings with traditional sounds. Leading the ten-cut array is the title track, “Real Thing”. Jamming withJesus Is The Real Thing the kick-heavy, bass thumping band creativity, guest soloist Kirvy Brown turns the song out like none other in Gospel: vocals laced with equal parts of smooth, grit and rasp. Written by the Coopers, the song delivers a melodic punch with the line “my Jesus is the real thaaaaang”.

Kendall Hunter shines on two fronts: writer and soloist Credited with both responsibilities on “Just To Worship” and “Magnify Him”, he demonstrates contrasting styles. The praise is palatable on the “Just To Worhip”, with a memorable choir harmony and personal worship lyrics that continue to nestle in the soul long after the last chord fades. On “Magnify Him”, the vibe is flipped to an uptempo, full band, traditional-funk treatment that is hefty on call and response that ripples throughout altos, sopranos, tenors and full choir.

Also of note is Cooper track, “Open My Eyes”. Joy Cooper takes lead, beginning with a softly jazzed vocal prayer before the choir enters mid-track with some inventive and ear-catching phrasing: "—Lord, help my unbelief”.

Reflecting God’s glory is the opening track, “We Have Come”. The beauty of this one is because it's simple in its parts (soloist, choir, organ and drums only) and yet is complex within them. Marc Cooper’s gifted meanderings on the B3 rival the runs and turns of any vocalist. David Chiverton’s sparse drum accompaniment sets the table for a church groove that gets delivered by the mighty workshop choir. It's emphasized by the powerful falsetto of lead vocalist Paul Golatt. The choir line, while straightforward, frequently diverges unexpectedly and wonderfully into regions that almost seem to exist outside the melody.

Immersed in traditional Gospel yet diverse within that framework, the Miami Music Workshop Choir gives up a disk that ministers Word and merits praise.

Producers: Marc and Joy Cooper
album release date: June, 2000
Tyscot Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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