Wilmington Chester Mass Choir
Live in Concert
Just when the year is coming to a close, and you think that the only new music left are the Christmas releases, choir power slams into the scene.Producers: Chris Squire, Howard Kennedy
album release date: October 30, 2001
First it was Salem Baptist’s Voices of Victory (see album review), then it was Alaska Mass Choir’s excellent debut (see album review). Now it’s the latest from The Wilmington Chester Mass Choir (WCMC).
As one of the East coast’s most prolific choirs over recent years, (see review of their 2000 album)WMCM has forged several strong artist relationships; all come together here for another fiesty project, titled Live in Concert, recorded at Sharon Baptist Church in Philly.
Songwriters Becky White, Ricky Grundy, Guy Robinson, Maurette Brown Clark and Rodney Posey each contribute to the 12-song set, with production from Howard Kennedy and Rev. Chris Squire.
High octane choir is the stuff of White’s opener, “No Other Name”. A perky, funky track guides the stacatto vocals of adulation and praise. Contrasting is the much smoother balladry of “Come Let Us Sing”, as well as Brown Clark’s song, “Call Me”. Taken together these are prime examples of the choir’s ease with diversity in styles.
Lecresia Campbell fulfils all expectations on “The Only One”, another song from Becky White. Campbell is one of those singers who can easily pull off a 10-minute song without once making you glance at your watch. Her style is captivating, and is capable of an astounding variety of vocal colors, tones and textures that. Here she makes the song become one of several album high points.
It continues to be Bruce Parham’s year (he has sung on some of the year’s most wonderful albums, including Faith in the House (see album review) and the Voices of Victory's They That Wait).
A Producer's Perspective
Rev. Chris Squire wears multiple hats for WCMC, including that of CEO, and for this album, co-producer along with Howard Kennedy. He offers his own commentary on some of the project's contributors:|
Becky White: For the last three projects, Becky White has been an important part of the WCMC ministry. Her style of writing fits, and has a contemporary or "gospelly" Praise and Worship feel ("Psalms 95", "Celebrate"). Becky White is WCMC, the Carol Antrom ("He's Preparing Me", "Stand Still", "God's Mercy") of the new millennium. "Hosanna" and now "No Other Name" and "The Only One" are proof of the transition.
Lecresia Campbell: What can you say about a singer who has such an incredible gift? Lecresia has been a part of the ministry since 1991. The Only One is the perfect song for Lecresia; with her singing, the song is the bridge for WCMC into the new millennium.
Bruce Parham: Philadelphia's ‘Son of Promise’, a talented vocalist who is homegrown. As a friend of the choir, Howard Kennedy suggested that Bruce Parham sing the Ricky Grundy penned song "Strong". His participation on this project for me said, "No matter where WCMC goes, we can never forget home!"
Carnell Murrell: This was my first time working with Carnell. When he came in to his first rehearsal he took it up to the next level. Instead of just singing, he began to minister. If you listen to "Be Glorified", you can hear the importance of pure, down home ministry.
Angela Spivey: My friendship with Angie goes back over 25 years. We both grow up on the westside of Chicago. Angie was the spark plug, the energy of this recording. It started in rehearsal and continued to the session. Angie helped to breath life into the session.
On Ricky Grundy’s “Strong”, Parham's resonant vocal is all that’s needed to bring home the message that “The Lord God Almighty will make you strong”. But just in case, warm simmers of bass and electric guitar along with sustained organ chording buoys the work, with some creative choir part arrangements marking the last half of the song.
Continuing with high profile guest appearances, Carnell Murrell works the tender Rodney Posey praise composition “Be Glorified”. On the opposite vibe, Angela Spivey reminds everyone what pew-shaking is all about on “Take You All The Way”.
Philadelphia’s Zachary Williams writes “Praise Him” as a contemporary and horn-frilled Psalm 150, and Psalm 96 gets an infectious musical overlay on “Sing A New Song” (from Dwight Franklin). Then Ernie Saunder’s alto (!) lead stuns the ear on “We’ve Come To Praise”.
Guy Robinson uses 2 Timothy 2:12 as his text on the mid-tempo “That I Might Know Him”. Claudine King sings soprano lead with just the right balance of smoothness and grit to make it work, as choir glides underneath and piano and rhythms gently escort the composition.
All told, there’s several reasons that this project may catch your attention. Whether it’s the guest vocalists, the known songwriters, or just the simple fact that it’s another project from Wilmington Chester Mass Choir, Live in Concert, there’s absolutely no disappointing.
reviewed by Stan North —
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