Voices of Victory Mass Choir
of the Salem Baptist Church
They That Wait
Let's jump right into the pool here and say that Bruce Parham's lead on the new arrangement of "Jesus Saves" is simply off the deep end.Producers: Jay Terrell, Rudolph Stanfield
album release date: October, 2001
Parham has to be one of the most underestimated male soloists in Gospel today, able to growl in lower registers with as much authority as he delivers his sudden piercing falsetto.
On this version of the classic (from Jay Terrell, Rudolph Stanfield and Todd Harrison), the power of Parham is complemented by some terrific choir parts. Mid-song, the melody swerves into an uptempo cascade of glorious praise, expressing the awesome confidence of redemption ("I'm saved, yes I am, yes I am") that we are given by God.
The Blackberry Records project, titled They That Wait, features The Voices of Victory Mass Choir, from Omaha Nebraska's Salem Baptist Church. Parham appears on just the one song, and while it is certainly the high point of the project, there truly are several other peaks.
One of them is the work of renowned songwriter, keyboardist and arranger Rudolph Stanfield, who collaborates with Minister of Music Jay Terrell throughout this sleeper. Combining efforts on musical production and arrangements, and with Stanfield also on organ, this potent duo bring out the best in the church choir.
Debbie Austin sang as guest soloist on the Terrell's previous project (Jay Terrell and Higher Praise came out with Cloudless Day on Blackberry back in the day). She returns with her big voice here on "Hold On Your Change Will Come".
Rudolph Stanfield and New Revelation
Rudolph Stanfield and New Revelation return after an absence of seven years with a surprising contemporary project from Malaco Records, titled Millennium Praise.|
While urban and sometimes hip hop influenced rhythms may not be what one expects from this respected producer and master of the church choir ballad, he and his choir pour their intensity into it with every fibre of their beings.
The strength of the project is on the traditional cuts, with Vanessa Bell Armstrong on "When God Says Yes", and Kenneth Wells on "It Is So". Robi Rivers and Bridgette Stanfield are also featured.
Solid material dominates this album, as amazingly, every song grabs attention and merits props for both ministry and musicality.
Laurnea Wilkerson has a distinctively pleasing tone and makes "I Can Do All Things" memorable. Terrell's song "Take Me To The Water" takes on a predictable church groove considering the familiar lyric phrasing, but latches on to some creative choir effects, both in use of vocal color and in phrasing of words.
"Unconditional Love" from Stanfield's pen delivers a worshipful simmer as the seasoned voice of Gwen Morton (know for her work on projects that include Thomas Whitfield albums) sets the pace over choir chorus and strings.
The 'choir within a choir' comes through on down-tempo "Feel The Spirit", with six-voice ensemble painting verses in harmony as choir enters on vamp and Eric Jordan solos. Also important is the altar call song, "It's Time To Make a Change" with spoken word from Pastor Maurice Watson and very soulful lead by Adrian O'Neal.
reviewed by Stan North —
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