Long before the blues came into existence, there was gospel music. If you are looking for a break from the blues, this 67 minute CD explores the power and riches of inspirational and spiritual music as expressed by the human voice. A stunning collection of divas who grew up in the Church (Patti LaBelle, Stephanie Mills, En Vogue, Patti Austin, Shirley Caesar, Denyce Graves, Nnenna Freelon, Dionne Warwick) re-work popular tunes by Ashford & Simpson, the Bee Gees, Stevie Wonder, Burt Bacharach & Leon Russell in a gospel vein. Chaka Khan is the exception since she wrote the song she recorded for this project. Graves and Tena Clark (producer) are most responsible for instituting this undertaking.
Dr. Maya Angelou sets the sacred scene with an opening poem. She exclaims, 'Every time I feel the spirit, I know I am immersed in the essence of church . Church is where I go when I want a certain fulfillment and church is where I don't have to go because it is always with me.' Sweet and loving backing vocals accompany Jennifer Holliday on "The Wonder Of You". She gets you to really ponder the lyrics of a song long associated with Elvis. You won't be able to sit still through the Fire Choir's sanctified rendition of "As" where several members of the 20 person choir share lead vocals. Ann Nesby's fantastic vocals give thanks on "A Song For You".
The five piece backing band performs clarion-like on all numbers. Additional musicians include Greg Philliganes and Billy Preston. These 15 adult-oriented, easy-listening arrangements will not surprise you if you are vaguely familiar with contemporary blues music. This is a great Sunday morning disc or one to listen to anytime you need a spiritual rebirth. A bonus CD-ROM disc is included as part of this 2 CD set. You'll have to purchase Church to find out what is on it.
For more information, contact: www.churchcd.com
Tim Holek Freelance Journalist/Photographer
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