Wow Gospel 2002

Various Artists
WOW Gospel 2003

It’s tough to avoid superlatives when talking about the WOW Gospel series. It is, after all, the best from the brightest in Gospel. Leaving no stone unturned, Verity uncovers almost every hit from 2002 in its presentation of the granddaddy of all Gospel compilations, WOW Gospel 2003.

 CD Double disked in presentation, this year’s issue is not as evidently split into contemporary and traditional camps, although there is certainly a trend.

The traditional cream of the crop features Keith “Wonderboy” Johnson with the contagious “Send a Revival” as well as AIR Gospel’s Dottie Peoples with “Closet Religion”. JDI’s Norman Hutchins had a banner year and caps it off here with “God’s Got a Blessing”. Verity’s own Canton Spirituals weigh in on “Drug Me” and EMI’s Blind Boys of Alabama appear with “People Get Ready”.

WOW Gospel 2003
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Pastor’s Hezekiah Walker and John P. Kee get it together on the LFC hit “I’ll Make It” and in perhaps the biggest collabo of 2002 the men of Commissioned reunited for “King of Glory”. If you weren’t there, this will get you close.

EMI labelmates Darwin Hobbs and Shirley Murdock combine for the smooth “There’s Nobody Like Jesus” (that also appears on Hobbs’ recently-released project Broken).

Stellar Award winner for Choir of the Year, Donald Lawrence promises “The Best is Yet to Come”. Some other choirs rounding out the set are Brent Jones with his TP Mobb, Richard Smallwood with Vision and Joe Pace’s Colorado Mass.

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Pleasant surprises by way of dynamic singles this year came from Smokie Norful who offered “I Need You Now” and the Shekinah Glory Ministry with “Praise Is What I Do”. Both had breakout performance appearances on the Stellar Awards, and for Norful an additional spotlight on the Hopeville Tour.

Not to be outdone, the other three people who live in Hopeville (!!!) leave their mark on WOW, albeit with now-familiar material. Kirk Franklin’s “Nobody” (with 1NC), Donnie McClurkin’s “I’ll Trust You Lord” and Yolanda Adams’ “Let Us Worship Him” are no surprise to see and hear, as they pull up their usual chairs and take a seat.

The fresh new face of Debra Killings, newly signed to Verity Records, is shooting for a permanent seat as well. Her soaring vocal styling on her debut cut “Without Him” makes her a likely candidate for a spot. Vickie Winans, with “Superman”, previews what 2003 will see her deliver.

With cuts from Take 6, Aaron Neville, The Rance Allen Group, Karen Clark-Sheard, Michelle Williams, Marvin Sapp, Deitirick Haddon, Tonex, Mary Mary and Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr Singers adding to the diversity of this mix, the 2003 edition of WOW Gospel proves itself to be king of the compilations once again.

Producers: Various
album release date: February 4, 2003
Verity, EMI Gospel, Word

— reviewed by Melanie Clark and Stan North

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