Thereís plenty of great East coast church choirs on the Gospel circuit
these days, and for the most part, they deliver. Word-based lyrics
slathered with plenty of band fire, gutsy soloists
jam-tight, vibrato-laced mass vocals are the fail-safe ingredients.Producers: J. DuBose, S. Brown, J. Hairston, V. Steffans, J. Robinson, J. Smith
album release date: September, 2001
Youthful Praise out of Bridgeport, Connecticut has got all that, and then some.
In fact, the anointed
shock delivered by this CD package might be on par with the one you got the
first time you heard James Hallís God Is In Control, or Hezekiah
Live In Toronto.
Famed locally, but until now a legendary rumor elsewhere, the choir has for ten years toiled
in the confines of Turnerís Faith Temple (Bishop J.C. White). With this debut and independent
project, the 40 voices and band
under the joint direction of Shawn Brown and James Hairston burst
onto the wider scene, and do so by kicking all things into severe overdrive.
With a rich, well-balanced sound characterized by a steady vibrato
that is mellowed just enough to avoid
getting too much in your face, Youthful Praise is also strong on disciplined diction.
They are never relegated to simply a backing choir, but make their
presence felt on every track. That's no small feat when you consider
the quality of the soloists involved on this CD.
Three Youthful Praise Movies
Hear and see Youthful Praise singing "Awesome God" at the GMWA in Minneapolis. Click on each of the above images to get the film rolling!
Speaking of which, Awesome God features an absolute power-pack of exclusively female
soloists, including guests Melonie Daniels, Lecresia Campbell,
Lorraine Stancil and Robin Rowe-Stewart. Daniels is the first to
make an impression,
on "Ruler". Well-known for her exquisite vocals and astounding range,
she delivers all of that on this slow cut, with the choir providing
well-balanced support. Penned by Shawn Brown, the song says, "You're the
Master of everything...and you see and know, and care".
Tri-City Singer's Robin Rowe-Stewart fosters a smoothed-out,
peaceful vibe on the first half of the closing track "My Faith". Instrumentally accompanied only by
John Peters on piano, the song features an appropriate and comforting narration before focusing more on the
choir and lead vocals for the last half of its run.
Lorraine Stancil continues this 'gotta hear it to believe it' festival with "He Lives". It's a churchy, organ-heavy
number that allows her to go from her lowest tenor range on the first half of the song, to the highest
of heights as the song develops. She progressively climbs the octaves
with the basic line, "He got up from the grave", using
a fascinating mix of low, breathy, whisper-song to falsetto mid-ranges to soaring, glass-shattering, gritty crazy notes. There are
times when she combines her entire arsenal in one line, making you truly marvel that this all comes from
the same pair of vocal cords. The added mastery of Jonathan DuBose Jr.'s accompany lead
guitar work, makes this cut
extra memorable. At times, DuBose Jr. makes the instrument take on the role of an ad-libbing lead vocalist, working brilliantly
off of Stancil.
The choir tracks "Great and Greater", "Song Of Praise", "Awesome God" and "Deliverance" are strong, melody-driven cuts
that will no doubt
be heard by many, as they are naturals for ambitious church choirs to tackle. Another note to mention is the
lead vocal contribution from Evangelist Gloria White on the ole'-time church pleaser "Keys To The Kingdom".
With talent this heavy, and God-given gifts so evident, it's a joy to hear an
independent project blessed
with astounding production values. Producer Jonathan DuBose Jr. does complete
justice to this live recording, along with co-producers Brown, Hairston James Robinson, John Smith and Vic Steffans.
In fact, the entire album is a joy, from start to finish.
The heights to which Youthful Praise take you will leave you both
and at the same time, relieved. Relieved to know that Gospel has
discovered yet another creative choir force.
Notice has been served. A new standard has been set.
Five songs snips from the Awesome God album are available as RealAudio downloads. If you don't have RealAudio, be sure to obtain your free RealAudio player software first, by clicking on the blue RealAudio icon on the right.
To download the 30-second song snips, simply click on the highlighted text below, let stream on RealAudio, and enjoy.
reviewed by Stan North ó
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