Ted & Sheri

Gospel duo Ted & Sheri never fail to elicit a response.

Their twin harmonies and equal-billing ability to astound with lead vocals, coupled with their seasoned stage presence (honed through years of experience with The Voices of Binghampton, Richard Smallwood & Vision and The Tri-City Singers, variously), makes them a tour-de-force. Their The Healing Starts Right There debut (see album review) set things in motion, meriting them a Stellar Award for Group/Duo of the Year.

CDFor their Word Records debut, Ted & Sheri recruit songwriters such as Donald Lawrence and Paul Morton Jr., but also demonstrate their own writing skills, penning several songs each. Myron Butler produces most of the album, showing his ability to tap into the essence of their musical ministry.

The title cut, "Celebrate", starts off the project. Written by Lawrence, it's a jammy groove that sets up the 'hands-up' vibe that flows through the entire album. Horns, bottomed-out bass, clunky percussion and some tight backing vocals push the praise, with Ted & Sheri wailing over top.

The duos double on "Thank You, Lord", as Walter Hawkins and Yvette Flunder step in to join Ted & Sheri in covering the popular Hawkins song from the early 1980s. The passions are high as all four singers converge in gratitude. Swelling strings match the vocal intensity of the rendition.

On "How Much You Mean To Me", PJ Morton takes his turn at the producer's rack, continuing to create waves with each successive project he puts his mark on (Men of Standard, William Murphy). An electric guitar intro set into a bed of simmering organ opens the piece, which quickly becomes a flowing masterpiece of music, song and praise. Call it an album high point. Morton also touches "Turn It Around", a rousing, clappy, pared-down number infused with old school soul touches and a raucous ending.

Sheri handles all the vocals on the self-penned "Serenade". Accompanied by nuanced acoustic piano and soft brushes of backing vocals, the song is tender love ballad to God —"a serenade, a worthy praise".

Ted & SheriIn turn, Ted goes solo on "Conversation". Acoustic guitar and percussion adds the right touch of organic soul that his vocal presence demands. Ted sings to the Father that "I've learned to rely on no-one else".

Back and forth lines traded by Ted & Sheri mark the prayerful plea, "Lord, Please Touch Me". Some nice chord changes and punctuated chorus vocals set this one off. The plea is answered lyrically by the groovy "God Will Take Care", which offers God's Word of comfort to those in need.

By the time the head-bop kicker, "Believe" rolls around to round out the 11-song project, Ted & Sheri have already cemented their special blend of ministry and artistry. Celebrate!

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Producers: Myron Butler, PJ Morton
album release date: October 26, 2004
Word Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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