Youthful Praise

Youthful Praise
Live! The Praise... The Worship

Youthful Praise featuring James Hairston, is back, and presents the new and fresh Live! The Praise... The Worship, an album packed —once again —with gems.

The church-based Stellar-nominated choir maintains their renowned choral excellence but executes with a freer flow, something clearly linked to the praise and worship experience.

CDJJ Hairston and YP come out the box with hands uplifted on "You Are So Awesome", the album's first single. An uptempo praise song that ironically takes YP back to the initial proclamation that put them on the map —that God is awesome. Same statement, different sound. Director Hairston takes the reigns on the lead vocal, and steps out to give us a window into his role as a worship leader.

"He Reigns" goes a little deeper with the choral harmonies, and equally as deep proclaiming His dominion and glory. A strong rhythmic cadence, with drums and percussion by Mike Clemmons, Rodney Kennedy and John Paul, Jr., plus punctuating horns by Mo' Horns distinguish the song.

Hairston is joined by fellow songwriting wiz, Jonathan Nelson, who pens "Shift this Place". Clearly these are two songwriters to watch over the next year or so, the duo proving to be a mighty team on this easy groove. Anaysha Figueroa hits the mic on the reprise and leaves her usual indelible mark.

Nelsonís brother Jason sweetly finesses "O Holy Lamb" as musical director Eric Davis lays a clean and beautiful keys track.

Bishop J.C. White weighs in to remind everyone who laid the groundwork on the shout-provoking "I Am Your Help". Lady Gloria White hits the vocal as strong as ever. Bishop Eric McDaniels also confidently delivers on "In Your Favor", a happy encourager penned by Hairston.

Live! The Praise... The Worship
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"Praise to the Rock" comes from the pen of former YP director Shawn Brown, who is now pastoring, but evidently still writing some stellar music. A favorite of many, YP finally waxes "The Blood" led by Kenya Lee. Also penned by Brown, who shows particular writing prowess in finding a way to fluidly use the word 'pestilence' in a song. (!)

The "TFT Medley" flashes back with leads by Christina Summerville and Javon White, with "You Are My Hiding Place" being a particularly strong section.

The sweeping "Incredible God, Incredible Praise" is one of those songs you just won't ever forget. Led by Deon Kipping, who co-writes with Hairston, the tune is somehow both poignant and happy —and instantly vintage. This segues to a little song called "The Presence" that eloquently transitions the flow from praise to worship.

At the production hand of James D. Robinson, Jr., the conglomerate of high-end material and premium vocals produce a full-bodied effort. The instrumental effort, led by Davis with partners in crime Asa 'Ace' Livingston on bass and Chris Russo on guitar —just to name a few —bolsters the YP sound.

In one of the best choir efforts to come along in quite awhile, JJ Hairston and Youthful Praise once again rocket their album to the top of any choir afficionado's playlist.

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Producer: James D. Robinson Jr.
album release date: August 23, 2005
Evidence Gospel / Artemis Gospel

— reviewed by Melanie Clark

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