UAB Gospel Choir
Lessons for Life
Lessons for Life, the sophomore project from the UAB Gospel Choir, is choral excellence.Producers: Dr. Henry Panion III, Kevin Turner
album release date: January 8, 2002
Based out of the Music Department at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, composed of 130 members and spearheaded by the department’s Dr. Henry Panion III and Kevin Turner, the choir’s five years of experience clearly shows.
The emphasis is placed squarely on the choir over the album’s thirteen tracks; blending, diction and expression are all exceptional. Plenty of vocalists from within choir ranks step out, as well as some great guest voices pulled from churches in the Birmingham area.
Panion and Turner have a penchant for funky, simmering grooves, making it no surprise that Stevie Wonder chose Panion to work arrangements on some of his recent albums.
Such accompaniments frequently support the choir’s vocal layers, making for an ingeniously arranged merger of classic Gospel and contemporary sparkle. Through all of this instrumental complexity, the duo never allow vocals to get buried.
“Great Change” fits that description to a T. The busy, percolating track emphasizes the celebratory meaning of the words, which say that “there’s been a great change in me” since God came in. Tina Molette takes the lead vocal.
“Perfect Peace” is another funky head-bob, this one fronted by the smooth tenor of Rev. Al. B. Sutton (of Birmingham's Sixth Avenue Baptist Church). Engaging synths travel underneath from beginning to end as choir progresses to staccato, syncopated phrasing near song’s end.
The album’s centerpiece is Turner’s re-arrangement of Deborah Cox’s smash “Nobody’s Supposed To Be Here”, originally co-written by Montel Jordan. Re-named “I’m Glad You Got Here”, the song is re-energized with lyrics that point to God as the
One who is right on time. Dual leads from Jamila Jackson and Valerie Harris soulfully ponder the awesomeness of His provision and conclude by expressing total committment to Him. Slowly unfolding choir parts add to the beauty of this highlight.
Dr. Henry Panion III
Some may know Dr. Henry Panion III for his participation in recent albums from Stevie Wonder (Conversation Piece, Natural Wonder), on which he served as arranger and conductor. As a composer, his works have been performed by several of the bigger symphony orchestras around the country.|
He’s also arranged for Aretha Franklin and for recordings for The Winans, New Jersey Mass Choir and Babbie Mason.
Dr. Panion is Professor of Music at the Music Department of The University of Alabama at Birmingham, which offers degrees in Music Technology and Music Business.
The duo of hymn re-arrangements are standouts in and of themselves. “Sweet Spirit” and “There Is A Fountain” contain all the elements that make Gospel choirs so distinctive: inventive woven parts to create a vocal tapestry, expressive phrasing and close harmonies.
The album closes with the appropriately-titled “Amen!”, song that looks forward to seeing Jesus in heaven. “When I see Jesus, I’ll cry amen!”. It’s an uptempo, melodic rouser that’s filled with percussion and complex choir parts, creating an overall joyous vibe.
Oh that all of life’s lessons would be so enjoyable.
reviewed by Stan North —
|Contact Information for the UAB Gospel Choir
900 13th Street South
Birmingham, AL 35294-1260
phone : 205-975-7421
fax : 205-975-1931
6775 Bingle Road
Houston, TX. 77092
New Day Christian Distributors
126 Shivel Drive
Hendersonville, TN 37075
Phone: (800) 251-3633
Fax: (800) 361-2533
The CD can also be ordered directly from UAB Entertainment!
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