The nominees for the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards were announced tonight during a live telecast on CBS.
In the gospel categories, the nominees are–
Best Gospel Performance
“He Wants It All” by Forever Jones | Get Ready
“You Hold My World” by Israel Houghton | Love God. Love People.
“Nobody Greater” by VaShawn Mitchell | Triumphant
“He’s Been Just That Good” by Kirk Whalum & Lalah Hathaway | The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter III
“Grace” by BeBe & CeCe Winans | Still
Best Gospel Song
“Beautiful Things” by Lisa Gungor & Michael Gungor, songwriters (Gungor) | Beautiful Things
“Better Than A Hallelujah” by Sarah Hart & Chapin Hartford, songwriters (Amy Grant) | Somewhere Down The Road
“It’s What I Do” by Jerry Peters & Kirk Whalum, songwriters (Kirk Whalum & Lalah Hathaway) | The Gospel According To Jazz Chapter III
“Our God” by Jonas Myrin, Matt Redman, Jesse Reeves & Chris Tomlin, songwriters (Chris Tomlin) | Passion: Awakening
“Return To Sender” by Gordon Kennedy, songwriter (Ricky Skaggs) | Mosaic
Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album
Church Music | David Crowder Band For Those Who Wait | Fireflight Beautiful Things | Gungor Rehab | Lecrae Hello Hurricane | Switchfoot
Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album
Beauty Will Rise | Steven Curtis Chapman Love God. Love People. | Israel Houghton Pieces Of A Real Heart | Sanctus Real Mosaic | Ricky Skaggs Tonight | TobyMac
Times Like These | Austins Bridge The Reason | Diamond Rio Expecting Good Things | Jeff & Sheri Easter Journey | Ty Herndon Live At Oak Tree: Karen Peck & New River | Karen Peck & New River
Traditional Gospel Album
The Experience | Vanessa Bell Armstrong A City Called Heaven | Shirley Caesar Downtown Church | Patty Griffin Here I Am | Marvin Sapp All In One | Karen Clark Sheard
Contemporary R&B Gospel Album
Get Ready | Forever Jones Love Unstoppable | Fred Hammond Triumphant | VaShawn Mitchell Aaron Sledge | Aaron Sledge Still | BeBe & CeCe Winans
Troy Lilly, one of your favorite writers at GospelPundit.com, had a little chat that he wanted to share with you folks… I’ll let him tell you aaallll about it… Take it away, Troy!
~ ~ ~
Over the weekend, I had the pleasure to spend an afternoon with a new friend. Many of you know her by face and name. Even more of you know her by voice. She’s been featured in a couple recent Goodies posts right here on GospelPundit.com.
I’m talking about the one and only San Franklin.
She was in the Washington, D.C.-area as a guest vocalist, and we talked about friends, music, and ministry for quite a while. In reality, though, “the interview” lasted only a few minutes. We spent the majority of the time catching up and clowning, as if we were old friends.
I came away from our meeting energized, having experienced a person who is both a dynamic singer and anointed minister with a contagious warm spirit. Some of her words will jump right off the screen.
* * *
Troy: It’s great to get to talk with you. I know you’re very busy, but I’m thankful you took a few moments of your time to talk with me today – I really appreciate that.
San: I appreciate you having me…I’m not that busy (laughs)
It’s great to even be considered to sit down and talk to the audience, talk to you. It’s an honor and privilege.
Troy: So, what brings you to the Maryland/DC area?
San: I was here for Mount Pleasant Church and Ministries. Bishop Johnson in Baltimore, Maryland had a family and friends week – it was all week long and yesterday was the outdoor festival with Vanessa Bell-Armstrong, Lisa Page Brooks, Angela Spivey, myself, Bernard Harris…a lot of people.
Troy: The greats (laughs). Cool. I saw you tweeting because I do follow you on Twitter…
Troy: And I know there are a few people who weren’t here. Tell me about some of your other friends, people that you’re close to in the area, who you didn’t get to see.
San: Oh, I didn’t get to see Jason Nelson, Pastor Nelson; I was supposed to go by his church this morning – he’s a very dear friend of mine…
Troy: Wow, love him!
San: Holla Walla, I didn’t get to see him. Who else? Well…Richard Smallwood (laughs) is a good friend of mine. He actually was in my hometown, Chicago, Ill., at the Edwin Hawkins Love Fellowship Conference.
I’m actually a native of that conference and of that church. You know, I spent 12 years with Bishop Hawkins and that whole movement, and I didn’t get to go to the conference this year because I’m in this area working, so…it’s been great, though, even though I didn’t get to see my friends here, the ministry opportunity was absolutely phenomenal.
Troy: Speaking of ministry, just talking with you earlier, that was something I actually got to hear more about – your opinions and your knowledge. So share a little bit more about what you know and your experiences in ministry versus just singing.
San: Well, something that probably most people don’t know is I’m an evangelist. I’ve been preaching for almost 20 years.
San: Of course I started singing first.
San: And most people who minister or pastor, you start with the singing or the musicianship, and then you move on. But, I have found a way – thanks be unto God – to combine both. So when I sing I’m ministering Word, and when I’m ministering Word I end up singing, so they’re one in the same to me.
Whereas, you have some people who separate them – singing ministry and preaching ministry – they’re just one in the same for me, and it’s just ministry, period. So I try to make it an everyday part of who I am and not just when I get before the people or before an audience, but just a part of who I am everyday.
Troy: As it relates to the industry, with you having a ministering background, and with you blending the two pretty easily, what do you think of the state of the gospel music industry and do you feel everyone is able to do that as effectively as you are?
San: I believe in this season we are slowly but surely gearing the industry back to ministry, because I think we had taken the focus off of ministry. We were so focused on our look and so focused on our sound, and our riffs and runs, and the talent moreso than what’s behind the person who’s singing.
San: We have so many people who are behind the scenes, who are on the underground side of the industry that are really ministering to God’s people, you know, and they’re not always the ones who are elevated or celebrated necessarily.
San: There are people on the underground circuit that are laying hands and people are being healed and they’re ministering to people’s mental states and their emotional states and restoring people spiritually, but they don’t get the visibility that some “in the industry” get.
And so I think God is having to switch us back to ministry-minded people because we focus too much on talent which doesn’t destroy any yokes, it doesn’t break any bondages, you know what I’m saying, which doesn’t bring us to a state of wholeness, which is where I believe God wants his people.
Troy: Wow, yeah.
San: I think God has to shift us back to that because we’re losing…we’re…what do we say out on the Internet, “epic failing” (laughs)…
Troy: (Laughs) Yeah, that’s a Twitter thing!
San: When it comes to ministry, you know what I’m saying, we #EPICFAIL (laughs)
San: So I think God is trying to get us back to a place in ministry where we’re effective and relevant.
Troy: What’s going on at home for you, back in Nashville?
San: Back in Nashville I’m Minister of Music at a church called Perfecting Faith Ministries with Pastor Dale Jones. It’s a great church. In this season it’s a great place for me to call home. It’s always good to have somewhere you can come and be settled.
Other than that…I’m working on my project. Everyone says, “when is your project coming out, when is your project coming out?”
Troy: Yes, we want to know.
San: And I want it out just as much as everybody else does. I told God years and years ago, if I cannot produce a project where someone puts it on and is instantaneously healed of a disease, or a worry or broken relationship, then I don’t wanna record. Everybody’s making music…everybody’s putting out a cd…I want to be able to minister and make a difference in somebody’s life.
God spoke to me and said that “every song on your project will speak to you” relating to somewhere I’ve been in my life. Like the single “Arise”… I was listening to that song after coming out of a divorce, thinking I had failed…I remember the words of the song ministering to me: “Today is the day of a new horizon, there’s new life.”
San: For my project, for me, I want to meet the needs of God’s people. I want to be relative and transparent. People are looking for someone to say “I’ve been where you are and I understand, I feel your pain, and I can get down there with you.” Because that’s what I want to do, it’s taking me a little longer produce than I would like.
Troy: Well, it sounds like it will be worth the wait.
San: I hope so.
Troy: We appreciate that. Sometimes with people coming out with stuff back to back, we question the consistency…
San: Yes, yes (laughs).
Troy: We appreciate you letting it be a slow, churning process for the better end result.
San: I think it’s like ice cream…
San: (Laughs) You know what I’m saying – I love sweets! But I say that because you can get ice cream, but if you know anything about homemade ice cream, old time, down South…
Troy: Grandma’s ice cream (laughs) mmmm.
San: Grandma’s ice cream where you have to put it down in the bucket and put the salt on the ice, and you have to churn that thing, and sometimes your arm gets tired from turning, but when it comes out it’s the best thing you’ve ever tasted in your life.
Troy: I can’t think of a better analogy than that. Last thing.
What advice would you give to someone who’s trying to nurture their ministry and let that lead, and avoid being persuaded by the pressure of the industry to just put something out?
San: To anyone in the industry…that’s been in the industry for years waiting on God to move, or just came in the industry waiting on God to move (laughs), it goes back to the old formula. Seek you first the kingdom of God and [all] of his righteousness, and everything else will be added unto you.
Troy: That’s right!
San: And I think transparency is the key. Being true first to yourself. As long as you remain transparent to yourself, it’s easy for you to be transparent to others. I think transparency brings about GREAT ministry.
Troy: With that I’ll say I was blessed to be in your presence for this short period of time…
San: Aww. Thank you.
Troy: I want to thank you again for sitting and talking with me candidly and openly.
San: Aww, thank you for having me.
* * *
I really enjoyed that interview! Shout-out to Troy for makin’ it happen and for doing an impeccable job on it!
Who rocks the recaps? Troy Lilly rocks the recaps.
And he’s back with more this week. Without delay… here’s our buddy, Troy Lilly, with his take on last night’s episode of BET’sSunday Best…
* * *
After weeks of watching the judges voice their opinions and make – at times – controversial cuts from the lineup, it’s time for YOU to decide who will become Sunday Best this year. No more blaming the judges, people.
So, the show last night began by reminding us what the winner walks away with besides a whole bunch of votes: a national recording contract – and a 2010 Ford Taurus SHO! Exciting, right?
The episode also introduced music directors, Stanley Brown and PJ Morton, and featured an instrumental by trumpeter Shemar Allen as a tribute to New Orleans, Louisiana, the host city for this season’s show.
Ledisi, another phenomenal R&B singer, opened the show with “Higher Than This,” a song from her latest album. I was sure the “high” she refers to was, well you know, that of a man. Ledisi (almost) convinced me the song was written about God. There are only two words for her singing style last night: church bred. I’ve been following her on Twitter, too, and she’s got a little word in her.
And then later in the show, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, who is nothing less than a gospel music legend, sang “Good News,” a song EJ premiered on GospelPundit.com last year before anyone else. But on to the contestants…
Elder Goldwire McLendon – “I Know It Was the Blood” and “Jesus Be a Fence Around Me”
I wanna be like Elder McLendon when I grow up. He’s got Holy Ghost swagger! And he strutted it all over the stage yet again. Although I feel he was shortchanged a bit by the communion song (he could’ve really handled something far more challenging), he still managed to make “I Know It Was The Blood” his own. I would have loved another song like “Jesus Be a Fence,” which Elder sang next.
On this song he showed more of the energy and vitality we saw last week during his performance of “He’s All Over Me.” Particularly during the vamp, he added some nice adlibs and, of course, hop scotched like a pro. Last night Elder said something that stood out to me: “I am not singing to people, I sing to God.” It’s clear that knowing who you’re singing to makes a world of difference.
LeAndria Johnson – “Running Back to You” and “Set Me Free”
Judge Donnie McClurkin asked last night if there’s anything LeAndria can’t sing. I’d have to ask the same question because, if there is, I haven’t heard it yet. LeAndria tackled a classic Commissioned song first with stunning results. It may have been difficult for another singer to deliver a signature song without sticking to the original artist’s style. Not LeAndria. One of her greatest attributes as a singer, in my opinion, is her ability to interpret songs in a unique way. As I said a few weeks ago, song interpretation is what makes a singer an artist.
She was clearly up for the challenge on her second song as well. Not only did she interpret Myron Butler & Levi’s “Set Me Free,” she shared a personal testimony at the same time. “I may have lost my house,” she sang, “but God’s got a mansion for me.” I believe he has so much more.
The true faceoff of the evening, however, came in the form of a duet between Elder McLendon and LeAndria. They teamed up and sing “I’ll Take You There” to close the show. Hand in hand for the majority of the song, the pair played off of the large age gap between them and marched around the stage cheerfully in a performance that was rather harmonious for them to be going against ach other for the Sunday Best title. It was definitely a highlight of the show.
Their fate is now in your hands. You’ve been watching every week. You’ve seen the good and the not so good. You’ve seen each of them leap across the stage and bring the judges to tears. Now you must decide who is Sunday Best.
Remember, you can vote until Saturday June 19, 2010 at noon EST. To vote online at the Sunday Best page on BET.com, click here.
In a couple of weeks, Dr. Teresa Hairston (Gospel Today) will be hosting her annual Gospel Heritage Praise & Worship Conference in Jacksonville, FL. It’s gonna be a two-day event that you do NOT wanna miss, featuring worship services, musical offerings, workshops and panels that’ll inspire, encourage and equip you.
Check out the flyers below to see just a SAMPLE of some of the folks participating– from Donnie McClurkin, Hezekiah Walker and Kirk Franklin to Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Jonathan Nelson and Paul Morton… on and on and on.
During the conference, I’ll be speaking on two panels geared toward young adults (peep my lil’ photo on the second flyer, top right… LOL). One panel discussion will focus on what the “new” music industry looks like, the other talks about careers opps in that new music industry. My panel peers will include some of the best and brightest in the gospel game and I’m excited to be a part of it.
Anyone ever attended one of the annual conferences? Anyone planning to attend THIS one? Talk to me!
Who caught Bobby Jones Gospel on BET yesterday? It featured some INCREDIBLE performances from Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Darwin Hobbs and LeJeune Thompson.
Vanessa performed her hit single, “Good News,” and the classic and TIMELESS “Peace Be Still.” In my humble musical opinion, the choir behind her didn’t quite know some of the nuances of their part, but the performance was still awesome.
Darwin Hobbs is just a worshipper, plain and simple. He is a great performer because he offers the audience a personal encounter with God, in that moment, every time. He performed “We Worship You Today” and did a great job with it. For his second go’ round, Darwin sang the hit “He’s Able,” which has been, like… the rock worship ballad for the past year. Deitrick Haddon wrote QUITE an anthem with that song– it’s awesome.
Aaand, LeJeune. My, oh my. LeJeune Thompson is one of the most underrated female vocalists in gospel and I don’t quite know why. In any event, she sang “Lost Without You,” from her 2008 sophomore release, Metamorphosis. It’s a mellow cut laced with incredible vocals… great job.
Who else saw it yesterday? What was your favorite performance of the episode?
Immediately following the taping of the 25th Annual Stellar Awards, social networking sites were flooded with praises, lauding THIS show as the best Stellar Awards EVER. And I agree.
I’ve attended numerous times and I’ve watched the show since I was kid growing up in Chicago– the performances on this show were innovative and you’ll be hard-pressed to find more memorable and captivating performances right now.
During the taping, I sent tweets via Twitter about who was on stage, but intentionally left off the songs that were being performed. Here, I’m recapping the ENTIRE taping, so if you wanna leave anything to your imagination, don’t read any further.
If you wanna know the juicy details, do proceed…
As you probably know, the show was hosted by Donnie McClurkin,Vickie Winans and Kirk Franklin. They did a great job, especially Vickie, who served as comic relief for much of the night. There was no hype man between set changes this year, so we could’ve gotten really restless but for Vickie’s jokes about herself.
For the first time, the Stellar Awards featured a live house band, which was led by producer Percy Bady. This made a WORLD of difference because the sound was tighter than ever, the performances came to life, and we weren’t bound by the restrictions of each artist’s performance track. EXCELLENT decision.
If you follow my tweets, you know that I said that the theme for this year’s show would be COLLABORATIONS. Almost all of the performances on the show are medleys between artists that have made significant contributions to gospel music over the past 25 years. The others were performances from artists that left a great impression on the industry in the past year.
The show opened with a collabo between Ricky Dillard & New G and Hezekiah Walker & LFC. If you love choirs, you’ll get a glimpse of Heaven within the first coupla minutes of the program!
Ricky Dillard & New G performed “Search Me” before transitioning into the classic vamp of “More Abundantly”… you know, the part where the sopranos, altos and tenors break down into parts, singing “JOYYYYY!” During this time, the Love Fellowship Choir had joined them on stage, just in time for Bishop Hezekiah Walker to lead them in their hits “I Need You To Survive” and “Souled Out.” It was electrifying.
The next performances came from the legendary Vanessa Bell Armstrong, performing her hit single “Good News.” She looked incredible and sounded even better.
In a traditional female vocalist collaboration, we were super blessed to witness Lady Tramaine Hawkins sing “Changed” (it doesn’t matter how many years have passed– her voice DOES NOT CHANGE) before Dottie Peoples came on stage to sing “On Time God” like you wouldn’t believe. As if that wasn’t enough, Pastor Shirley Caesar came to the stage to tell us about ol’ Shoutin’ John in “Hold My Mule” Y’all remember that song?! It was a classic performance.
The next collabo came from Richard Smallwood and Smokie Norful. This was absolutely one of the best performances. Fortunately, I had seen it during some rehearsals, because I could’ve missed the whole thing. An usher at the Grand Ole Opry House used this time to SCREAM in my area, talkin’ about “are there any SEAT FILLERS over here?!” Fortunately, my wife told her to “shhhhh!!!” and we still caught some of it. Don’t mess with Janice Gaines, y’hear?
Picture it– Smallwood and Norful, both in tuxedos (with tails), each at a black grand piano, tickling the ivories like nobody’s business. Richard Smallwood started by playing Smokie’s “I Need You Now,” then Smokie followed by playing Richard’s “Center Of My Joy.” Smokie then played and sang “Dear God” (from his latest project) and Richard Smallwood capped the performance off with his classic anthem, “Total Praise.”
New Artist Of The Year Crystal Aikin came to the stage next with her hit single “I Desire More,” and left the entire room desiring more… I could’ve heard her on that vamp all day. Her voice soars, effortlessly, and she’s got such control and sincerity… a true treasure.
Another stand-out performance came from our favorite bro & sis– BeBe & CeCe Winans, singing their latest single “Grace.” They looked like a million bucks and they sounded like they never took a 15-year break. They’re just pros who don’t miss a beat.
Up next was another classic performance– Kirk Franklin performed with his singers– new and old– a medley of his greatest hits, including “Silver & Gold,” “Why We Sing,” and a bunch of others I’m forgetting. The best part of the performance was probably when Tamela Mann and Dalon Collins joined them to sing “Now Behold The Lamb.” That auditorium went UP and IN. CLASSIC!
Up next was the popular single “I Trust You” from James Fortune & FIYA. They gave a great performance and reminded everyone why he had such great success at radio– it’s a singable anthem that encourages souls… great stuff.
The next performance is one that you’d BETTER watch for on the broadcast. Don’t take bathroom breaks even remotely close to this segment. I’m talking about the all-male vocalist collaboration between Donnie McClurkin, Byron Cage and Marvin Sapp. There are hardly words to describe it. The song list was great– ”Never Would Have Made It,” “The Presence Of The Lord Is Here,” “Faithful To Believe,” “Marvelous” (by Walter Hawkins), and “Stand.”
Each of the three guys took turns singing on “Never Would Have Made It” and “Stand.” By the end of their set, the ENTIRE room was on its feet worshipping. They came back in on “Stand” and the taping had to take a break. I’ve NEVER heard Byron Cage sing the way he did, Donnie’s range was limitless and powerful (as always) and Marvin Sapp was simply incredible.
At this point, Kirk came out and shared some of what’s been on his heart. One thing that stood out was a quick phrase he gave– “IN ADVANCE.” He shared that, as we sleep, as we doubt, while we’re not knowing what is going to happen, GOD has thoughtfully already worked everything out for us, in advance. Our response to THAT should be that we praise Him, in advance. It was a very powerful moment– I know I’m not typing it well enough to convey that, but… you’re gonna have to trust me.
The fire was kept burning by the next performance, which came from Israel Houghton and Mary Mary. Israel performed via satellite from London, while Erica & Tina Campbell looked and sounded great on stage as they sang the Grammy-nominated “Every Prayer.” I loved the concept of it and the execution. Great job.
The finale of the show came sooner than I had prepared for– I guess I wanted to go until midnight or something– but when it came, it was great.
Donald Lawrence & The Co. (and you guys KNOW I love me some Co.!) sang “Back II Eden” with the Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir, winners of How Sweet The Sound (HSTS), behind them. It was a great concept to include the choir because HSTS was such a great and popular part of the gospel industry this year. And when Floyd Wilkinson came up to do his vamp… I’m sayin’… I could listen to that vamp 10 times in a row and never got tired of it.
What I think you WON’T see on camera is Vickie Winans clownin’… she won Female Vocalist Of The Year and the award was presented by Shirley Caesar, Dorothy Norwood and Albertina Walker. When she won, she was so overwhelmed and blown away that she went to the podium and said to Albertina (who sat with an oxygen tank next to her), “girl, gimme some of this [oxygen].” I NEED them to not edit that out! LOL
Also, you probably won’t see Tina Campbell with her gorgeous new lil’ baby, TJ. She walked to her seat with him at one point, and the whole audience awww’ed and oooo’ed cuz it was just priceless.
Even without those moments, you’re gonna get all the rest… and that’ll be one of the best set of televised gospel performances you’ve ever witnessed.
I commend Don Jackson, Central City Productions, Barbara Wilson, and the entire Stellar Awards production crew for an incredible show– definitely my favorite over the past decade, and probably EVER. Elegant, professional, classic… it was more than just a celebration of 25 years of the Stellars… it was a celebration of gospel music. Perfect!
Soooooooooooo… sound good to anyone else? Anyone attend and wanna chime in? Did I miss anything???
In the gospel music industry, collaborations are BIG. You wanna create a crazy buzz about your project before it hits the stores? Tell folks you’ve got an exciting collabo on it. You wanna kick up your television performance a notch? Perform a collabo.
This year was a great year for collaborative work. But I’ve decided to narrow the list down to my 5 favorite collabos. In order, they are:
5. “You Bring Out The Best In Me” – Vanessa Bell Armstrong feat. Rance Allen (from Vanessa Bell Armstrong’sThe Experience)
When Vanessa Bell Armstrong decided to remake her own 80′s hit on her latest album, she prolly could’ve just done it herself and knocked it out of the ballpark. But she’s a kind and gracious woman, apparently, because she gave us the gift of some classic Rance Allen moaning and groaning that took this live performance to a whole… ‘notha… level. Their two voices grooving over some Donald Lawrence-produced background vocals– you kinda don’t want the track to end.
4. “The Joy Of The Lord” – Coko feat. Israel Houghton (from Coko’sThe Winner In Me)
Coko is a masterful collaborator in gospel. It’s like she reads our minds and gives the mic to the VERY folks we’re aching to hear. On her debut album, she featured everyone from Faith Evans to her mama (Lady Tibba). This time around, she kept her mama, plus grabbed Kelly Price and Canton Jones. My fave collabo on the album, though (and, thus, one of my faves of the entire year), was with Israel. It’s a feel-good track with great vocal performances from both of ‘em… a true treat.
3. “Available To You” – Melinda Watts feat. J Moss (from Melinda Watts’People Get Ready)
After a much buzzed-about debut album, Melinda Watts entered the gospel scene with a project that had a little something for everyone. Perhaps one of her strongest tracks was this duet with J Moss. Kudos for taking a song that is performed too much at midnight musicals and making it fresh for us again, and double kudos for enlisting the vocal assistance (not that Melinda was at all in need) of one of the best male vocalists in the game.
2. ”Every Prayer” – Israel Houghton feat. Mary Mary (from Israel Houghton’sThe Power Of One)
When I saw that the Marys did a song with Israel, the last thing I thought I’d hear was a jazzy contemporary gospel track. But they mastered the performance like the pros that they are and it quickly became one of my favorite songs on his album, if not of the entire year. And there’s a GRAMMY nod to show for it.
1. “Wait On The Lord” Donnie McClurkin feat. Karen Clark Sheard (from Donnie McClurkin’sWe All Are One)
I hear that Karen Clark Sheard wasn’t actually the original choice for this song– it was gonna be Tramaine Hawkins. That, too, would’ve been an incredible performance, but God does all things well and He knew that this duet was gonna dominate the charts and our iPods. On this song, Donnie stays true to his strengths– his a classic vocalist who can render a soaring ballad like few others– while Karen gives, arguably, one of her greatest performances in years.
The list of artists who will perform at the 25th Annual Stellar Awards has been released:
Mary Mary Byron Cage Dottie Peoples
Ricky Dillard & New G Tramaine Hawkins Richard Smallwood Crystal Aikin
Smokie Norful Vanessa Bell Armstrong
Edwin Hawkins BeBe & CeCe Winans
James Fortune Walter Hawkins
For some reason, the list doesn’t mention Donald Lawrence, but it was announced elsewhere that he will be performing with the Atlanta West Pentecostal Church Choir (winner of this year’s How Sweet The Sound competition).
Should be interesting performances– glad to see some new folks on the show, like James Fortune and Crystal Aikin, as well as some faves that don’t always perform, like Tramaine Hawkins and Hezekiah Walker.
At the fear of sounding redundant, I would love to see Kierra Sheard SOMEWHERE on SOMEBODY’S show… she’s nominated for several awards, including ARTIST OF THE YEAR, for cryin’ out loud. She can’t get a performance slot?!
As an aside– it’s interesting that, despite the fact that so many indie artists proudly let us know that they “took the ballot by storm” this year, not one of them was given a performance opportunity…
In the current music industry climate, it’s refreshing to see artists who have taken the time to actually develop, rather than simply throwing an album into the marketplace. And, in the gospel industry, I tend to expect that level of commitment to one’s ministry.
With his debut project, Balance, Ted Winn enters the gospel marketplace as a solo artist with grace, purpose, and a sound that is certain– a reflection of his experience in this industry and a decided commitment to God’s timing.
The 11-track musical offering tends to present Winn as more of an ensemble leader than a solo artist (perhaps a la Hawkins or Crouch), but it’s clear that he is, at all times, the captain at the helm of this album’s sound. Writing on all but one of the tracks (a remake of “Moving Forward” by Israel Houghton & Ricardo Sanchez), Winn demonstrates that he shines as brightly behind the scenes as on stage.
Standout tracks for me include the album opener, “Connected To The Kingdom” and “His Favor,” featuring Vanessa Bell Armstrong, both of which are high-energy tunes with a bit of a throwback vibe to them. “Reap” and “Trust His Name” are both more mellow grooves that display the vocal agility for which Winn is well-known.
Other gems on the project include the worship track “Oh My Soul,” which is reminiscent of a beautifully penned Richard Smallwood ballad (the song is, in fact, inspired by Smallwood, Winn’s mentor) and “Great Is Our God.” The latter tune is both catchy (it’s an instant Sunday-morning praise team or choir hit) and cleverly done, in that it features Winn in right company with three of the industry’s other new, premier male vocalists– DeWayne Woods, Jonathan Nelson and Myron Butler.
In short, Ted Winn’s Balance provides just that– a collection of great music able to both nourish and encourage the Body of Christ. It’s an impressive debut project worth purchasing.
Mark your calendars and get ready to use your headphones at work. LOL
This Thursday, November 12th, at 3pm ET, Verity Gospel Music Group will stream the Fred Hammond Music Experience on its website, http://www.verityrecords.com.
The Music Experience is the latest installment in the popular Chicago interview/performance series hosted by Dedry Jones (Vanessa Bell Armstrong’s latest album, The Experience, is a recording from the same type of event).
Fred Hammond’s streaming performance will include a chat with Dedry Jones and will feature songs from his latest project, Love Unstoppable, as well as some older tunes like “Blessed” and “This Is The Day.”