2011 – Yes, No, Maybe? Part 1Published by Torrence Glenn on Wednesday, December 28, 2011 at 7:50 pm.
Sup folks. I can’t believe that it’s been another year already. What’s so funny is that when I started this blog in March of 2009, the goal was to give some commentary on the second season of Sunday Best and that was about it. After the finale, it was supposed to be shut down and perhaps come back with the next season but somehow that didn’t happen. You all kept reading and and I kept writing (or at least trying to…) So the fact that we’re down another year and it’s time for another “Yes, No, Maybe?” post is really blowing minds…
What’s even funnier is that I had no intention of doing one of these this year. I said to myself, if someone mentions it, I’ll do it but if they don’t, we’ll just slide out of 2011 and go into 2012 nice and quietly… But then my buddies over at NuthinButGospel.com called me out on twitter and asked when my year end review was going up. Dang them!!!! And then folks started retweeting and so forth and so on and here we are…. grrrr. So let’s just do it! And of course, we start with the “Yes’.”
The Legacy Project – John P. Kee
Quite frankly, this CD was probably one of the best and most slept on CD’s of the year and that makes me MAD! I go on facebook, twitter, myspace (ok not really) and see/hear people complaining about how music isn’t this and music isn’t that and we need more of this and more of that and bam, a GREAT CD from a legend comes out at the very top of the year and folks SNOOZE. So many times when an artist is doing their last major project for a record label, they kind of throw together some garbage to say they did it so they can just move on. Not here! It’s evident that John P. Kee’s goal was exactly what the title of the CD implies, he wanted to put out a record that would add to and maintain his legacy. Depending on when you got into John P. Kee could determine the kind of artist he is to you. Choir leader, praise and worshipper, psalmist or even quartet style singer. With this project, he hits you with ALL those sounds to give you the fullness of who he is. Definitely one of my fav’s this year!
Hell0 Fear – Kirk Franklin
No, seriously, do we even have to do this? I’ve got other CD’s that you may have not even heard of or knew came out this past year that requires more attention. If you don’t have this CD, shame on you and the horse you rode in on. (Don’t ask me what that means, just something me and my fam say. Ha!)
Something Big – Mary Mary
Although this was probably their most experimental and out of the proverbial box CD to date, I got to say it was still pretty great and may go down as one of my favorites. I’m all for experimentation and pushing boundaries when you do it GOOD and these ladies did it good! I know for some folks, the “urbbanness” was a little too much to take but if you really pay attention to the evolution of Mary Mary, they never played it “church safe” so Something Big shouldn’t have taken you too much by surprise. Yes, there was no official “church track” which they’d usually leave you with to keep the saints happy but if you let yourself get past that, I think you’d really enjoy it. “Sitting With Me,”"Slow Walk,” and “Something Big” are my favorite tracks on this one.
Refocused – Darnell Davis & The Remnant
So aside from this group being my favorite choir of the 21st century period…. they not only sings the walls off on their new CD, they actually have good songs! See, there was this weird stage we’ve been in with choir music where the singing was good and the songs were wack or you might have a CD with good songs but you’d never want to hear the songs again because the choir just doesn’t have the sound needed to carry them off. Or wose, you get something in between with an ensemble trying to sing choir music and failing miserably. Darnell Davis are the best of both worlds and nobody executes songs like they do. I’m so serious when I tell you this, go and pick this one up along with all of their previous CD’s. It’s the way gospel is supposed to sound. Hear me!
Keep Living – Ricky Dillard & New G
Everyone was nervous…. After the masterpiece that was the 7th Episode CD, could Ricky Dillard and New G do it again? Well they did. New G is one of the few choirs to have been able to navigate this new “gospel” space we’re in where anything more than 12 people is considered a mass choir. They’ve been consistent and Keep Living is a BEAST of a CD. The songs hit you over the head like a ton of hotel bibles dropped from the balcony. My only “disappointment” was that one of my favorite songs from the live recording didn’t make it to the finished CD. HOWEVER, get the DVD to see the live performance of “He’s Still The Light.”
The Live Experience - Tonya Baker
People criticize me sometimes and say “Torrence don’t like praise and worship.” But you’ve got me so wrong, I do like it, when it sounds like THIS! What I love about this CD is that it’s praise and worship experience captured on CD with no sacrifice of singing. Let’s be real, generally for most praise and worship music to work, you have to pull back on the musicality most times to make it relate-able and sing-a-long-able. (Yes, 2 years later and I’m still making up words.) With this CD, you can relate to it, sing along with it and still get some gooood gospel singing from Tonya Baker at the same time. It’s full of nice long grooves and reprises so you can go right on in. I love it!
The Love Album – Kim Burrell
Those of us who have followed Kim Burrell’s evolution since the 90’s prayed for this day. The day that she and Asaph Ward would be able to work together and create again. Although not a commercially successful CD, The Love Album is a feel good CD with all the nuance and complexity we expect from Kim Burrell but with production worthy of her voice. (Let’s be real, that hymns record had her singing her face off but the tracks were “my first Casio” at best!) Kim Burrell takes us to school on this CD and I loved every minute of it.
Conquerors – Bobby Perry & Rain
I enjoyed this CD from this Boston based group and I think you will too. They’re an ensemble who sing songs to fit their size and style but aren’t afraid to tackle some extra churchy tunes at the same time. (Take a listen to “Healed” to see what I mean.) Rain is pretty smooth and the gritty delivery of the group’s leader Bishop Bobby Perry make a really good listen!
Earnestly Yours – Earnest Pugh
It’s hard to come behind a successful CD with a hit like “Rain On Us”…. but Earnest Pugh managed to do it. As much as I talk about all the things that go into making good gospel music (production, live vs studio, bgv’s, labels etc.), I’m really all about 2 things. The voice and the song. Be able to sing and have a good song, and the rest we can possibly discuss. Earnests’ new CD has good songs and the man can just sing! I have to say that Earnestly Yours was one of my favorite male solo gospel project’s this year.
Church On The Moon – Deitrick Haddon
I tried, I really did. Because Deitrick Haddon to me is one the dopest male singers around. I mean, the man can siiiiiiiiiiiing. Just don’t think this CD showcased the goodness that is Deitrick Haddon’s voice. He’s ultra creative and experimental and I get that, but I just couldn’t get it with this CD. Although the single “Well Done” was a great song and I loved the video, when trying to listen to Church On The Moon as a full body of work, it got a little dicey. A little too experimental for my taste. But I’ve also never been to the moon so maybe my inability to digest this CD was a problem with location?
Then Sings My Soul – Mississippi Mass Choir
Yeah….. was just nothing special here. Some choirs have enough legacy to make CD’s just because they can, and this is Exhibit A…. Take a few of your favorite Mississippi Mass records, change the words, add a new robe pattern and bam, another CD… And then it had the nerve to be a 2 disc set? 2 discs of that??? Snooze. And slapping a pic of everybody’s favorite Mama Mosie Burks (love her!) on the cover ain’t enough…
Reborn – Lashun Pace
I’m no deep spiritual wonder or anything like that but just don’t think it was “time” for this CD. I think Lashun was trying to give something to her fans who have waited so patiently for her to come back and being that I’m not an artist I’ll probably never understand that pressure. However, sometimes you just have to take care of you and tell the fans to wait. Lashun Pace is one of our greatest voices and this CD just didn’t show that off. I’m still a believer though. There’s another great CD in Lashun Pace and I’m going to wait til it comes out and sing along and upset my neighbors trying to hit all the high notes and such when it does.
Greater Mt. Calvary Live – As Told By The Music Ministry
This was a pretty solid CD of church choir music. Couldn’t give it a “yes” because it wasn’t exactly spectacular but certainly not bad by any means and definitely didn’t deserve a “no.” And truthfully, you should get this CD because it’s the only official recorded version of the “War Cry!” “Whoooooooooooooooaaaaaaa whoooooooooooooooooah.”
Live Experience II – The Rance Allen Group
I don’t think it’s possible for Rance Allen and the Rance Allen Group to do anything “bad.” I just didn’t play this one as much as i have played other Rance Allen CD’s so that’s how it ended up on the “maybe” list. Yeah, that’s all, they’re still one of my favorites.
Pulling Me Through – Todd Dulaney
I’ll admit, the “narrative” had me a little leery. Former professional baseball player turns praise and worship artist? Yeah, you’re gonna have a hard sell on that one with me… But after seeing a live performance and giving the CD a little spin after that, I gotta say I wasn’t mad. So before I’d put this in the “yes” category I’ll have to listen a bit more, but I just think I might like it. Go head and sing your “Pretty Jesus Music” Todd! Ha!
How I Got Over…Songs That Carried Us – Smokie Norful featuring the 12th District AME Church Choir
I always complain that sometimes young people in church today don’t know the legacy songs of the church. So I was really glad for this CD because it was just that, a retrospective of some classic church songs presented in a way folks could get with. Add to that it was fronted by Smokie Norful and featured heavyweights like Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Sheri Jones-Moffett, Melvin Williams, Myron Butler and Joe Ligon and you’ve pretty much got a solid project. It made it’s way on the maybe list because honestly I haven’t listened to it all that much because it just kind of came out at a time when a lot of other stuff was coming out or on it’s way out so i couldn’t just give it the full thumbs up, but it’s good, so get it.
Angel & Chanelle - Trin-I-tee 5:7
This CD falls into the “maybe” category because i really didn’t get to listen to it fully like I wanted to. Part of the reason was because I played the single “Over and Over”…..over and over. (badump bump) and didn’t get to much else, so I couldn’t call it in time for this list. *smile*
Well, that’s the first half of this year’s “Yes, No, Maybe?” list. What do you think? Did I get it all wrong? Did I go “soft” this year. (Some folks said I would…) Get ready for part 2 in the next day or so, we’re going in! Ha!