As the first choir signed to Tommy Boy Gospel, New Divine Destiny has
already broken new ground. Theirs is not your run-of-the-mill story about
the trials and tribulations of a new artist however,
for the group's first project is simply crammed with names familiar to the
Gospel industry. Start counting.(For your souvenir audio postcard, Click, download, and run.)
The most obvious names would be those ending with ‘Kee’, for choir
director Alphonza Kee brings with him the full support of his
brother (Pastor John P. Kee), and the many talented members of
the renowned Charlotte-based church (New Life Fellowship Center).
In fact, New Divine Destiny, with members ranging in age from 16
to 30, also carries the moniker, ‘The Church Choir’.
And while the sound of this studio project won’t be confused with the
John P. Kee’s New Life Community Singers, you
can certainly feel the connection, with Pastor Kee handling
production and co-writing most of the material with his brother.
Tonéx lends his popular vocals to the mid-tempo title
cut, "Be Ready", which speaks to Christ’s any-day return.
Punctuated choir vocals go side-by-side with Tonéx’s soul,
with relevant soft trumpet solos injected. It's the choir's lead single, and has a video
to go with it.
A pillar of this project is surely the balladry.
Alphonza Kee handles lead vocals on the gently melodic "Came To Me", with
his brother unable to resist adding a few uncredited vocal
licks of his own, and New Divine Destiny feathering gorgeous
backing vocals into the mix of muted horns
"Now Unto Him" is another
soft triumph, with several vocal leads weaved through it,
including from Chris Simpson and the always-welcome Shawn McLemore.
Simpson can also be found prominently on "He Liveth",
where he continues to
impress. On this song he propels
the already-blazing and bumpin’ track into the stratosphere
with his interpretation of the powerful resurrection lyrics.
He’s helped by a rocketing rap segment from Dallas Cowboys wide
receiver, Raghib Ismail.
Rhonda McLemore and Edward 'Buddy' Banks spin a wonderful duet on "Tell Me The Truth", with McLemore
putting out some lovely phrasing and former Rude Boys member Banks subtley taking
it further. The chorus features some of the nicest melodic turns heard in a while.
Aside from some minor
over-produced programmed segments on a few of the more contemporary cuts, the musicianship is
a joy. You find various instrumental masters such as Miche Waller (keyboards),
Calvin Rodgers (drums), John Kee (piano), Maurice Fitzgerald and Alphonza Kee
(who adds a mean bass to his other significant duties on this CD).
As one of the year's most anticipated projects, Be Ready has already gained much attention. Look for it to
gain even more as peeps begin to hear their New Divine Destiny.
Producer: John P. Kee
album release date: June 20, 2000
Tommy Boy Gospel
reviewed by Stan North —
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