My, my, my… Between tweeting on Twitter, updating my status on Facebook and takin’ notes for this post, I barely saw any of the show… but I HEARD it all and that was good enough for me!
Kirk Franklin opened the show with his Grammy-winning single, “Help Me Believe.” I saw Charmaine, Anaysha, Nikki, Eric and Isaac singing bgv’s, but ummm… where’s Ashley?! I kinda don’t consider the group complete without her, but maybe I’m just weird. In any event, great job and THANKS for not having the contestants behind y’all, talking ’bout some ”ooooooooh”…
The show kicked off with each singer doing their thang and, as usual, my humble recap:
Dontavies Boatwright – Medley of Fred Hammond’s “Glory to Glory to Glory” and “Blessed”: He’s got a really nice, soaring voice (that training!). He had a really nice look, with great energy, too. I enjoyed him more last night than any time that I’ve seen him thus far.
Jessica Reedy – “Brighter Day”: Let me tell you something right now. I don’t care WHO wins this competition– my favorite, since the auditions, has been this young woman and she is HANDS-DOWN my pick for this entire deal. She brings something soooo smooth, so unique and original, so relevant… She sang an incredible arrangement of Kirk Franklin’s “Brighter Day,” and I mean… Jessica demolished it from the first note to the end, was confident, looked great, COMMANDED the stage. Folks get stuck on the contestants’ riffs (which she does well), but for ME, it’s about the musical CHOICES an artist makes– did you stick to the melody only, or did you go exploring? was it tasteful? did you do something that I can’t hear elsewhere? Jessica channeled a little of everybody (did y’all hear that Anita Baker-esque deal she did?!). Ok, I’m moving on, but I’m just sayin’… Jessica Reedy.
Clifton Ross III – “Total Praise”: I agreed with the judges that Clifton seemed a bit more nervous this time around. I also agreed with Erica Campbell that he should have done a bit more in the beginning instead of saving the killer vocals ’til the end. That said, he still gave a smooth, consistent vocal that I really enjoy.
John McClure Jr. – “??????”: Umm… I ain’t never heard the song, but it was something about having a testimony. Anyone know??? In any case, he’s got a great voice. He reminds me SO much– vocally and appearance-wise– of Smokie Norful. He did a good job on the song and I still wanna hear more from him.
Y’Anna Crawley – “Grandma’s Hands”: She’ll sing out the side of that mouth, but SING, she does! She’s absolutely another fave of mine. Any time the host asks a contestant to do some MORE of the song they just sang, it’s sayin’ something. She delivers– vocally and with stage presence– like she’s been doing this for decades. She’s already a pro, in my book, and we’re just kinda waitin’ for the album.
Zebulon Ellis – “He’s Able”: Another reaaally nice arrangement of a classic Kirk Franklin tune. I think he did a great job. His spot was kinda unfair cuz he had to come on the heels of audience members laying slain in the aisle cuz of Y’Anna’s performance, but I think he held it down.
Jeff Spain – “Yesterday”: He did Mary Mary’s hit, and he did a nice job. I really like him as person, for sure. And I love that he’s only been doing gospel for a couple of years, but that he’s determined to do it. I mentioned on my tweet last night that I dunno if he translates well for gospel audiences. By that, I mean that the MAJORITY of the gospel audience often wants a vocalist to come and slay us with the squall and the riff. “Churchy” is not Jeff’s style. Funny thing: Though he’s got more of a voice for R&B, he doesn’t want to use it for that and I respect THAT. For that reason alone, I say that if we don’t have room for him, we try to make room for him. We like you, Jeff Spain.
Carolyn Johnson-White – “Secret Place”: Now, I typically don’t like folks doing Karen Clark-Sheard cuz I think 9 out of 10 will only embarass themselves. And, while she had a few theatrics that I didn’t need (“shush”-ing folks and what not), I think she really made the song her own and, to be honest, I kinda didn’t think of it as a KCS track anymore– I thought of it as a Richard Smallwood track (which it is), sung by a great vocalist in a way that really captured what the “secret place” may be like. And, to that, I say “very good and well done, ma’am!”
Kalind Haynes – “Healing”: Alright, sir, with the hip new look! Got the hat and what not… I see you. Kalind gave a nice, smooth vocal, as usual. I didn’t feel like the performance was necessarily strong enough to keep him in the game, but I enjoyed him.
Latice Crawford – “Praying Spirit”: So, this is one of those songs that I don’t ever want people to touch because I’m almost certain they won’t do it right. So, when the music came on, I thought “uh oh.” To that, Latice said “ummm… I can kinda sing my face off, so BOOM!” And WOW. This woman delivers every time. And the reason that I enjoy her is that she REALLY has some of the hardest, most nostalgic tunes to do each week (remember her doing Vanessa Bell Armstrong’s cut a few weeks ago?). That’s tough. And to not just do them, but to do them like you own ‘em… great stuff. Definitely a fave.
As great as EVERYONE was, the judges had to cut the 10 down to 5. They are: Jessica, Dontavies, Y’Anna, Latice and John. Plus, there’s a wildcard contestant from the Top 10 that will be selected to perform next week… I’m kinda hoping it’s Clifton.
Thoughts about the show??? Do you agree with the Top 5? Who do you wish was in there that isn’t? Among the Top 5, who’s your fave? HOLLA!