Youthful Praise

Michelle Williams
Heart To Yours

Countless R&B artists dedicate include a Gospel song as the final track on their album, but rare is the case when an entire project of Gospel is offered up.

So major kudos go to Destiny’s Child member Michelle Williams for doing just that on her debut solo effort, Heart to Yours.

Michelle Williams CDBeyond all the hype, the project stands on its own as a solid, value-filled and enjoyable set of songs —most of them originals —that will probably surprise more than a few.

Wisely turning to an A-list of Gospel producers and songwriters to fashion her sound, Williams sounds completely comfortable in a setting of mellow, contemporary Gospel soul.

While not flooding the project with big name guest artists, Williams does connect with a judicious few, each of them truly providing support rather than stealing thunder. Throughout, Williams shows that she knows how to caress, carry, showcase and just generally do all that needs to be done with a song.

Interview with Michelle Williams
CD ""At first I was like, 'should I say Jesus', but before I knew it, I couldn't help but to [say His name]," she states. "I wasn't going to let anybody stop me from doing that...not that anybody really was, you know..."

See full interview with Michelle Williams.

The presence of Mary Mary on “So Glad” make it a threesome on the thumpy, bumpy, Warryn Campbell tune that celebrates the joy of living life “breathing, walking, talking, living life with You”. Soul crooner Carl Thomas joins in duet with Williams on a daring remake of BeBe and CeCe’s “Heaven”, with Bad Boy's Mario Winans producing.

Sandwiched amidst two previously-released cuts (“Steal Away”, the duet with Shirley Caesar and with New Direction backing up, and the acappella “Gospel Medley” with fellow DC members Beyonce Knowles and Kelly Rowland, first found on DC’s Survivor project), is an unusual number titled “Rock With Me”.

Exploring the motif that “Jesus is the rock in a weary land”, that He’s the “rock of ages” and also the “the cornerstone”, the song quickly turns into an urban rock ‘n roll thing, with producer (and brother) Erron Williams obviously delighting in seeing his sister belt it out the punch lyrics over a wall of edgy guitar and pounding rhythms.

The three truly standout songs on the project, however, are more in the laidback category. The sweetly-arranged title track comes from the pen of Kayla Parker, with Erron Williams Michelle Williams CDbehind the production board. Parker’s contribution to background vocals, with close harmonies on the hook, make for some great appeal.

Buster and Shavoni’s “Heard A Word” is another gem, a fine example of mature songwriting set to gently synths and soft guitar from Eric Walls. Williams sings reflectively and youthfully about how God takes all the hurt away.

On “You Care For Me”, Isaac Caree and Lowell Pye from Men of Standard let Williams carry the day on the tune (penned and produced by HR Crump) as she skillfully wraps her vocals around their gorgeous harmonies and occasional solo forays.

In it’s totality, Heart to Yours is a genuine slice of Gospel, dressed in the finery of today’s production, and sparkling with tuneful gems. No doubt it will garner much attention from many quarters.

Let there also be no doubt, the accolades will be deserved.

Link to the Michelle Williams site.

Producers: Various
album release date: April 16, 2002
Music World Gospel / Sony / Integrity

— reviewed by Stan North

  All content in GospelFlava © copyright 2002. 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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