Brenda Waters
Believers & Friends

Brenda Waters is a music missionary, arranger, songwriter, accomplished vocalist and workshop clinician. You’ve probably heard her back in the day on classic albums from The Southeast Inspirational Brenda Waters CDYouth Choir, the B C & S trio, Leonard Burke and the Voices of Praise, and more recently, on Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers’ projects.

Working this experience to its maximum potential on her feature project from Crystal Rose titled Believers & Friends, Waters delivers some downright solid songs that delight the ear with Gospel as you love to hear it. Call it a case of reaching back for the best of classic Gospel sounds and musical approaches, fast-forwarding it to today’s production standards and occasionally enveloping it with phat beats.

“Victory” is the opening cut. Waters takes her low range vocals into crazy regions in a acappella church-time groove with Rev. Michael Mack and backed by the “do it” repetitions of Cheri Wilson and True Praise Workshop Choir (who work wonders throughout the project).

And if you think you’ve heard about all that can be done with the classic “Oh, Mary”, then you better check that thought right now. Courtesy the combined work of Kevin Bond and Donald Lawrence, the contemporay bounce flow of the cut and the keyboard effects define the melody of Water’s song/story of Lazarus.

Equally at home with a ballad as with a groove, Waters is an engaging vocalist with a sincerity of tone apparent in every note. That can be heard on “Absent From The Body (More Of The Story)” and “I Am The One”.

Guest vocalist Hedreich Nichols spins a georgeous vocal on her self-penned “Vessel”. Airy, light and absolutelyBrenda Waters worshipful, she handles the solo number superbly. Kevin Bond’s instrumentation takes on a strong harpsichord flavor, fitting perfectly and ensuring it highlight status in an album full of highlights.

In other cases, the liner notes are sparse when it comes to acknowledging some the various prominent voices that come in at various parts of songs. When you hear the introductory trio on “Stand”, you truly want to know who is singing. It’s a tight introduction to a marvelous vocal tapestry of a song, featuring various solo and other vocal combinations. We’re left knowing that these ‘believers and friends’ of Brenda Waters are sure enough anointed. In the end, that’s all that matters.

This is a beautiful album, and comes highly recommended. So, come on in, this Water’s hot!

Producers: Kevin Bond, Donald Lawrence, Cedric Thompson
album release date: January 11, 2000
Crystal Rose Records

— reviewed by Stan North

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