Various Artists
Detroit Sings Nu Hymnz Vol. 1

You can tell from the title that this one will be special. Although it is a part of Tyscot's innovative We Sing... series, Detroit Sings Nu Hymnz Vol. 1 is, in fact, a distant cousin to the previous offerings in the collection of congregational and (till now) traditional hymn singing. Detroit Sings Nu Hymnz Vol. 1 CD That's because this Motor City cousin takes a little walk on the edge of contemporary.

Produced by Detroit’s Deitrick Haddon, and featuring the finest Gospel artists that the city is overflowing with, the emphasis of this collection is on re-arrangements. While Gospel's future in Detroit was never was in doubt, this project confirms beyond all shadows that the legacy is continuing.

The live recording session was held at Marvin WinansPerfecting Church, and featured a choir of 250 youthful voices directed by Haddon, accompanied by a band under the leadership of Haddon’s brother, Gerald.

Selections of note are many. Damita Haddon's lead is house-burning in "Do Not Pass Me By", arranged by up-and-comer Antun Foster. She also contributes a choir-only re-arrangement of "It Is Well". Gerald Haddon's reworking of "Come By Here" is a stunningly powerful and funky mass choir creation.

Known for his songwriting and vocal work with Commissioned over the years, Parkes Stewart takes a rare lead in front of a choir, with a soulful "I Must Tell Jesus". The cut (also arranged by Nu Hymnz Hims Stewart) takes on fascinating character on the reprise, when Marvin Winans briefly steps to the mic to add his vocals to Stewart's.

The gem of the disc is also the project's sole studio cut. "What A Fellowship" is a gorgeous ballad with an incredible harmony hook that marks the reunion of Deitrick Haddon's little-known but vastly talented contemporary male ensemble Perfect Peace. While the group released their own project on Bellmark Records in 1995 shortly before the label folded, very little has been heard from them since. Consisting of Eddie Williams, Kevin Williams, Danny Reynolds and Haddon, a significant re-emergence of this group is a Gospel priority.

Tyscot states that the vision of the Nu Hymnz series is to re-vitalize the foundational church songs for today's generation. With the raw energy and enthusiastic choir power of this first volume, consider the vision already realized. Bring on the second volume!

Producer: Deitrick Haddon
album release date: October 12, 1999
Tyscot Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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