Renee Spearman
Whoa to Wow!

New to JDI Records, but hardly new to the Gospel world, is Renee Spearman. The California native has previously worked with the likes of Dr. Bobby Jones, Yolanda Adams and Byron Cage, not to mention turning heads with her previous project, the Stellar-nominated He Changed Me.

With Whoa to Wow!, a uniquely titled 8-song set, Spearman sticks to her strength —distinctive songwriting melded to contemporary arrangements that nods to traditional stylings. Backed by Tony Jones & E-merge Ensemble on several songs, an impressive band, plus some high profile guest soloists, Spearman and JDI Records have another winner on their hands.

CD Zooming immediately to the title cut, this simmering, soul-laden number is testimony to God turning the table on difficulties, leading the believer to victory. With lyrics that riff on the traditional line "He picked me up, turned me around, placed my feet on solid ground" but moving it into today's lingo, and with guest vocalist and soul legend D.J. Rogers bringing his signature tenor vocals into the duet, the song rightly belongs on the charts.

On "Another Way", Spearman invites renowned labelmate Beverly Crawford to share the mic, the two reveling in the churchy, bluesy arrangement that comes complete with live horns.

The jazzy and inspirational "Nothing Without You" features Paul Jackson Jr. (of The Tonight Show Band fame) on guitar, as Spearman sings over an instrumental bed with a quiet storm feel.

Other highlights on Whoa to Wow! include the hand-clapper "Breakthrough" (with reprise) and the percolating, choir-power-backed "Great God". Both cuts are suited to choir enthusiasts, with their high energy and infectious melodies.

With this project, Renee Spearman joins a growing list of gospel artists that have clearly demonstrated their staying power. Whoa to Wow! satisfies on so many levels, and rightly deserves prime real estate in your music collection.

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Production: Various
album release date: Oct 30, 2012
JDI Records

— review by Stan North

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