Cheryl James & Voices of Worship

When you think of music hotbeds for Gospel music, you rarely think of locales north of the border. Representing Toronto, Ontario, Canada is Cheryl James & Voices of Worship with their debut effort titled Live.

Under the production expertise of the renowned Melvin Crispell, James & VOW offer a 12-track presentation that will quickly give listeners a taste of Toronto's gospel potential.

CDThis effort marks the recording debut for James & VOW, on the Potbelly Music imprint, founded by Melvin Crispell, and Crispell definitely leaves his mark on the project. He pens four tracks while contributing to the lion's share of album's musical arrangements.

Though his impact is felt on the album, Cheryl James & VOW quickly establish their own musical identity, exhibiting great comfort in exposing their musical character. An immediate strength of the aggregation is found in their song selection. The choir establish themselves early with clever arrangements of hymns such as "It Is Well" and "He Lives", the latter taking its foundation from the hymn "Because He Lives".

Tunesha Crispell, famed lead vocalist for James Hall & Worship and Praise and solo artist in her own right, lends her skilled vocal prowess to the mellow "Your Name Is Hallowed In This Place" and the mid-tempo "Jesus You Are".

Other gems include the funky "Made It" and "He's Just That Good".

The common thread throughout this entire presentation is the choir's connected vocals. Preferring substance over vocal acrobatics, VOW works hard to present clever yet sound vocal harmonies that keeps the listener's attention on the message. With that, James and VOW offer one of the more solid choral offerings in the marketplace today.

Live is a worthy addition to any choir lover's music catalogue.

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Production: Melvin Crispell
album release date: June, 2008
Pot Belly Music

— reviewed by Gerard Bonner

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