Well this certainly is a pleasant surprise. I got this CD set in a large lot of discs a couple of years ago, glanced at the title, ignorantly figured it for a compilation of hymns or monks chanting or some such, and set it aside. It ain't that at all:
|Billboard, May 24, 2003, p. 19|
And it is scratching me right where I itch.
I am on record as believing that you can't have gospel music without gospel lyrics, but this stuff exists in a grey area between genres that makes me question such thoughts. But belief cannot exist in the absence of doubt, and since R&B evolved by taking gospel tunes and changing every occurrence of "Jesus" in the lyrics to "baby," I guess it can go the other way, too.
As church sermons I hear seem to be devolving into either prosperity gospel or confirmation bias statements of "God hates the same people I do," it's nice to be reminded about God's mercy, grace, and love, even if it's through Bee Gees lyrics.
|Rolling Stone, May 29, 2003, p. 66|
Peak on the US Billboard Top 200 chart: #157
Peak on Billboard's R&B albums chart: #41
Peak on Billboard's Top Gospel Albums chart: #1
Sweet mama! A gospel take on Stevie Wonder's As? Please and thank you very much. Other standouts include Way Up There (Patti LaBelle) and You Gotta Be (Patti Austin).
I could listen to the late Dr. Maya Angelou read a take-out menu, but when she's reading her own writing, it's top shelf.
The only thing missing is a fast-paced shout piece by an authentic gospel chorus, complete with upbeat clapping and Mrs. Sneed singing too loudly. All the cuts are slow to mid-tempo affairs.
Also included is a second disc allegedly containing performance footage and artist interviews, but this 2003 CD-ROM is not compatible with my current operating system and I'm too lazy to chase down a work-around.
Personal Memory Associated with this CD: Yeah, I'm a preacher's kid, but this music bears little resemblance to the reformed, traditional hymnody I was raised on. Better late than never?
I'm also reminded of a college classmate, George, who grew up in this tradition and could play a mean gospel piano. I would sit in a practice room with George and just listen to him play. Once, I asked him how he learned to play that way - the chromaticism, the chord substitutions and inversions, etc - he shrugged and said he just picked it up.