Mike McCoy and Voices United

Superb production of church voices distinguish this live-recorded project titled Ready from Mike McCoy & Voices United. Consistent all the way through, from choir to soloists, is a richness of tone combined with that undefined church gritiness.

Mike McCoy CDMcCoy has pulled together some of Metropolitan Washington area to deliver a fine and highly tuneful collection of church-ready Gospel. Joined by Andre Webb (Richard Smallwood, Stephen Hurd, Wintley Phipps) on production (he also handles drums), McCoy's experience on organ with some of Gospel's finest (Thomas Whitfield, Donald Lawrence, Myrna Summers) shines through. P.J. Morgan's musical direction goes hand in hand to make this a great team.

The 25 voices of Voices United start things off with "Psalm 66", a choir's praise set to keyboards and written by Min. Marvin McCoy. Smooth key changes raise the exaltation as the song transitions to the rhythms-based "We've Come To Praise Him" as Clev Battle ad libs easily amidst the snappy choir phrasing. [see album review for Veda McCoy]

Vanessa Williams, known for her solo efforts in Richard Smallwood's Vision, steps out on "Lord I Surrender", rendering a sweet quietness in tone at the opening. Voices United rise in unison as the song opens up into a broad offering of Mike McCoy and Voices Unitedpraise, contrasted by soft chording. Williams' expressive lead is quite literally full of power while being wonderfully restrained at times through the eight-plus minute cut.

Stephen Hurd, one of the capital region's noted praise and worship songleaders (see album review), writes "There's Power In His Name", showing that simplicity in melodic line is sometimes the most effective. Jackie Glover and Rev. Daniel Harrison share lead.

There's a lot to dig into here. Songs such as the title cut with Eld. Paul Rhinehart freely interpreting the lyric in spontaneous fashion are representative. The band gets free reign on the instrumental reprise of the song.

The project finishes with McCoy's gentle composition "My Prayer", a seven-minute choral harmony-filled and fitting end to a stellar record.

Producers: Mike McCoy, Andre Webb
album release date: mid 2000

reviewed by Stan North

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