2012: Yes, No, Maybe?Published by Torrence Glenn on Monday, December 31, 2012 at 12:31 pm.
Ok, going to try and do this all at one time! Every year I say that I’m done with this list and every year somebody (or a bunch of somebodies) ask me to do it again. I struggle with it for a few reasons.
1. Too many CD’s come out in a year and many of them shouldn’t.
2. When you’re honest about not liking something, a lot of people think you’re hating. I don’t know what world you live in but everything simply ain’t good… TO ME. And that’s OK! Ha!
3. SOMETIMES I wont’ like a CD at first and it has to grow on me and sometimes that doesn’t happen within the year so I may give it a “no” now but call me in 15 years and I may love it. Ha! But anyway, here goes.
Jonathan McReynolds – Life Music
Hands down Jonathan McReynolds in my opinion is the best thing to happen to gospel in 2012 and in a very long time for that matter. A LOT of music came out this year and lot of it was great so it says something when a project can cut through all of that and cause me to stop what I’m doing and pay serious attention. Describing Life Music as refreshing is an understatement. Ever year I’m asked what my favorite CD of the year is and I keep the answer to myself for fear of alienating and turning off people but this year I couldn’t keep it to myself and just had to say it. This guy and this CD are special and we NEED him! If you don’t got it, get it. Do what I say!
James Fortune & FIYA – Identity
I’ll admit, this CD had a whole lot of tracks so it took me a long time to listen to all of it but I have to say that I enjoyed this CD. I’m going to say this the nicest way I know how but is it me or did FIYA just get better this go round? I don’t know if he got a new group of singers or something but they just sound better. The songs are and have always been good so that part’s not new but I really appreciated the upgrade in the background vocals on this project. Identity was a solid CD and I liked it a lot. The features were spot on and some people thought they couldn’t or wouldn’t make it with the label change. *hmpf*
Myron Butler – Worship
Worship was a different sound for Myron Butler but not really. It was different to most who are only familiar with his work with his amazing group Levi, but this go round he decided to take us into his “day job.” As the worship leader at Bishop TD Jakes’ The Potter’s House church in Dallas, TX Myron is responsible for taking the large congregation all the way in on a weekly basis. It was a risky move but one I appreciated. Although the single was a song called “Bless The Lord” featuring Tasha Cobbs the “moments” on this CD were two songs “Changed” and “The Blood Of Jesus.” Take a listen now!
Isaac Simpson & DP – The Process
I struggled with giving this CD a yes because although when I first got it and played it in the car with my friends, we really liked it and we listened to it for a quite a while. Then when it came time to do this list, I couldn’t remember what I liked about it so I figured “well Torrence, it couldn’t have been that good or you’d remember.” But that’s not fair because I am required to listen to so much music and that can happen. So I put it back in and had to remind myself. Aside from the title track “The Process” lead by Sunday Best 4 finalist Roosevelt Griffin, I especially loved this “Declaration” song which is a super simple praise song that every time I hear it I want to sing during a long offering line. It’s just fun. Listen!
Le’Andria Johnson – The Evolution Of Le’Andria Johnson Deluxe Edition
Ok, I can finally say this. Although I can appreciate Le’Andria’s first CD The Awakening Of Le’Andria Johnson and what it did for her, I really wasn’t a fan of the project. It felt like her first time in the studio and nobody was there to bring the best out of her although live, she ALWAYS KILLS! But this time, I felt like she found herself a little more in the recording process and the result was better songs and a better studio Le’Andria. The stand out moments for me were “Sooner Or Later” and “He Was There.”
J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise – After This
Full disclosure. When I left the live recording I was slightly underwhelmed and was nervous about how it would turn out. It was just OK to me. And I told JJ this myself soon after so all you messy ones can go and have a seat. He in turn told me he had some surprises and some more songs they’d be recording in the studio that he thought I’d like. Well, when I got the finished product he was right!
Marvin Sapp – I Win
Not my favorite Marvin Sapp CD of the recent years but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good because it was. The “moment” on this CD for me though would have to “Keep It Moving.” Don’t ask me why because that’s not typically my kind of song but hey, you like what you like!
Anita Wilson – Worship Soul
Ever have a CD that you put on and an hour and a half later you notice you’ve been in and singing along the whole time. Worship Soulis that CD. There aren’t many gospel CD’s that have been able to actually create a “vibe” that flows like a live show at an intimate venue, even when they’re recorded that way. You usually find the songs you like; you skip to them at will, etc. But Anita managed to put me in a mix of church service and supper club with this CD and that’s a hard task. For most people, “Speechless” and “Jesus Will” were the stand out cuts but if you still don’t have this CD or have only heard those 2 songs, make sure you check out “Show The People,” “Perfect Love Song” and “More Of You.” Then, call me when you get off the floor.
Goldwire McClendon – The Best Of Goldwire McClendon
Ok, don’t laugh but you know when you saw “Best of” you were a little taken back wondering how in the world can a debut CD be a best of? Well, it’s the best of his songs from Sunday Best Season 3. I’ll admit, I was afraid that this CD wouldn’t be good because it’s one thing to kill in competition and set a stage on fire but it’s another to go into the studio and craft a song that works in our CD and MP3 players. Well, wasn’t I surprised to hear the good Elder doing his good crooning when I put this CD on. He sounds current and classic all at the same time. And shout out to the background vocalists who support him without singing on top of his delicate tenor. And the production? CLEAN!
Zacardi Cortez – The Introduction
The Introduction was a really well rounded project. It was churchy in some spots, contemporary in others and even almost jazzy at parts. It’s no secret that Zacardi Cortez sings his entire face off but that doesn’t always mean a good CD will follow (see the rest of this year’s NO’s for examples.) This time, it worked!
Jason Nelson – Shifting The Atmosphere
It’s no secret if you’ve ever read my blog or have seen one of my interviews that Jason Nelson is probably one of my favorite gospel voices of all time and I’ve said time and time again that history will be very kind to him. Years from now we’ll be honoring him, doing tributes, trying to sound like him, etc. So it’s pretty safe to say that he can do no wrong in my eyes. Well wait, everybody can mess up even a phenomenal singer like Jason Nelson. Fortunately, that didn’t happen! Ha! I loved the honesty and balance of this project.
James Hall & Worship And Praise – A Trip Down Memory Lane
Ok, at first when I looked at the track listing I said to myself “Wait a minute Torrence, you know all these songs. Is this a greatest hits CD? What’s the point?” Then I put it on and the way that those re-imagined tracks and updated vocals SLAPPED ME upside my head I was instantly in! Now this CD is not for the faint of heart. If you’re not a choir head and you don’t like barking, squalling and hollering this won’t work for you but as for me and my house, I LOVE IT!
Amber Bullock – So In Love
I was happy to see Amber get a chance to “do her” alongside PJ Morton and this CD “felt” really good. It’s great to put a CD on and feel like the artist is excited to be doing what they’re doing and wants you to enjoy it just as much as they are. Amber takes musical risks but it’s part of who she is and what made fans fall in love with the Sunday Best 4 Winner.
J. Moss - V4: The Other Side
Here’s the thing, you’ve got to contextualize this CD to really get it. We know J. Moss can sing so that’s not even what makes this CD good. If you’re like me and of a certain generation you know and can remember the glory days of 90’s R&B. So if you want some good 90’s r&b for Jesus? This CD will take you right there! Ha!
Tamela Mann – Best Days
YES – I don’t even know what to say. JUST YES!
Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy
Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy’s self-titled CD literally forced everybody who heard it to step up their ear and creativity. It really was a form of musical therapy, especially for someone who has to wade through so much of the same ole same ole to get to something great like this. Whew!
John P. Kee & New Life – Life & Favor
The industry treated this CD as a comeback of sorts for John P. Kee & New Life and that’s fine. Because they came back hard and SINGING! John never disappoints vocally and gets better with time and the “ensemble” still rocks hard. Now I don’t even know where to begin with the features, every and anybody who could sing and would sing found their way on this project and I loved every bit of it!
Vashawn Mitchell – Created 4 This
It’s always tough for an artist to come back with a new project after a stellar year and a super hit like “Nobody Greater.” Most times it’s like winning an Oscar for some folks, the next movie after the win is just terrible; but not in this case. This CD was awesome and it had a very inspirational quality to it that I just loved. And by inspirational I’m not talking about church kids who think they’re something so special and unique that the gospel genre doesn’t apply to them. I’m talking about inspirational in that after you listened to it you feel good and want to keep going while still singing about Jesus.
Le’Andria Johnson – The Experience
A lot of people had a lot of bad stuff to say about this CD. You can’t go wrong with Le’Andria live, I’m sorry. I’m good with this CD, hear?
Jonathan Butler – Grace & Mercy
No, seriously I know Jonathan Butler doesn’t always get “picked up” by the gospel genre but let me tell you that this dude does his good good good singing on this CD and it will take you right on in. Trust me on this one. It may not be squalling, hollering and throw stuff gospel but listen to this “Lay My Head On You” to see what I mean.
Vincent Tharpe & Kenosis – Live In Memphis
I’ve enjoyed Vincent Tharpe & Kenosis for some time now ever since I heard them at a GMWA showcase some years ago in Cincinnati and this CD doesn’t disappoint. And me being the choir head and unofficial preserver of the sound that I am, it excites me to see a young choir really going hard for the squall. Ha!
Joshua Rogers – Well Done
Whew I was nervous about this. That Joshua can sing is undeniable. We watched him sing us crazy week by week on Sunday Best 5 but like we all know, after you get off that stage and get into the booth and record, who knows what you’re going to get. This collection of his “hits” from the show is actually quite good and I love the live feel of it. Now I can’t wait to see what happens when Joshua gets the chance to sing his own original material. This CD however, is a great primer!
Juanita Bynum – The Diary Of Juanita Bynum 2
Ok, I have to admit I didn’t hear this CD and you probably didn’t either but it’s pretty safe to assume that this was just wrong. Juanita Bynum the “artist” only works when the songs and the production are right and they haven’t been for a long while. I guess it would be fair for me to listen to this CD at some point but unless her and Myron Williams have a “come to Jesus” meeting and she goes back on the Threshing Floor with her white prayer shawl, I kind of don’t want to even bother. (Yes, I heard that’s how she would record when she was Juanita Bynum Sr. or the 1st or whatever you call the original…)
Brian Courtney Wilson – So Proud
It breaks my heart to give this CD a “no” because Brian Courtney Wilson is probably one of my favorite people in this business both as a vocalist and a person. However, the problem I have with So Proud is that his voice is too good for these songs. Simply put, there’s better in him and I can’t wait to hear it on his next project and there’d better a next project because his voice is AMAZING!
Andrea Helms – Moving Forward
I love Andrea Helms, but I did not love this CD. Deep down I believe she’s better than this and they didn’t let her do her. An artist like Andrea needs to be listened to before she records if that makes sense. You can’t just give someone a dress and say “wear this” if you haven’t bothered to measure them. I’ll stop there.
Forever Jones – A Musical Revival
Grrrrrrrr! Once again, this hurts me because if you’ve ever been in the presence of the Jones family or seen them live, you’ll know why there’s just so much to love about them. But somehow on this CD, it just didn’t translate there. Perhaps they should do something live next time because they get me EVERY TIME I see them on stage, I mean EVERY TIME.
I don’t know what happened here. People left the recording GOING IN about what they heard and by the time the CD came out it just didn’t really happen. There is however one shining moment on this CD that I just love and it’s “Out Of Them All.” Don’t ask me why but I just love this song!! It’s probably because it feels good and has a slightly old school choir feel to it.
Chrystal Rucker – You Deserve
This CD was frustrating. This is another example to show that you can have the greatest voice in the world and be a bonafide show stopping beast live but if the songs and production don’t line up, you can have a pretty difficult to listen to CD. That happened here. Like I said for some others, the trick may be to capture Chrystal in a live church setting and record her that way since that’s where she always kills. And maybe even slap a choir behind her she can holla and they can holla back, something!
Fred Hammond – God, Love & Romance
OK, got to be honest. Although I loved the single “I Feel Good” after a while I was a little nervous to listen to the rest of this project so I haven’t yet. You know I feel some kinda way about gospel artists trying to go into folks “happy time.” I’m good on that… But he’s Fred Hammond and pretty amazing so I guess at some point I’ll have to bite that bullet. Just not yet.
Take 6 – One
Like every year, there are CD’s I just don’t get to but I don’t count them out because I know the artist’s track record and potential are very high so that’s how this CD found its way into the maybe column.
Deitrick Haddon and the Voices Of Unity – A Beautiful Soul
Ok, so since there was a song with my favorite singer Faith Evans called “No Betta,” I have to admit that it’s the only song I ever got to listen to on this project but because that joint was so fantastic, I have to give this project a maybe for that song alone. Ha!
Charles Jenkins & Fellowship Chicago – The Best Of Both Worlds
Honestly, this CD almost made it into the “no” category but I forced myself to listen one last time to make sure. I realized that the CD wasn’t exactly bad but it wasn’t great either; it was just kind of “there….” I know the single “Awesome” was awesome but after that it was just….
Marvin L. Winans Presents The Praise & Worship Experience
This was almost a “no” but I just had a hard time saying NO to the voice that is Marvin L. Winans. To make a short story even shorter Marvin sounds great but that choir? Not so much…
Gerald Scott & Co. – Incredible
I’m giving this CD a maybe because I haven’t had the chance to listen to it but I LOVED Gerald Scott & Co’s Don’t Let Go project so I’m hoping I’ll love this one just as much.
Deon Kipping – I just Want to Hear You
I gotta keep listening to this. I really love the title track though, still struggling to really get with the rest of it though but I know it has potential.
Well that’s it!!! The year in music as I saw it. Did I get it right, all wrong? Tell me what you think?
Thanks everyone for hanging with me for another year an all the support and love. Trust me, it outweighs the crazy by a lot! I’m looking forward to 2013 and all it has to offer musically and otherwise. You should too! But remember this, don’t try and force God into timetables you create. New Years are cool and fun to celebrate but don’t let this time of year get you down or hype it up too much either. He’ll do what he said and the time WILL be right. Remember 2 Peter 3:8-9 (NIV) 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.
Everybody be good! Til next year!