Saturday, February 13, 2010
Artist – Mandisa
Album – Freedom
Label – EMI CMG
Street Date – March 24, 2009.
Album Length – 11 tracks. 43 minutes, 47 second.
Genre – Pop/ R n B / Gospel/ Urban
IPod Pick – How Much
Achievements –Nominated for 2010 Grammy Award for Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year
After bitter-sweet moments on American Idols, a successful debut, a struggle with food addiction, and an ongoing promising weight loss program, American Sweet heart, author,Plus size model and season 5 top ten American Idol finalist Mandisa Hundley is back again to declare a freedom that can be found nowhere else but in Christ.
The Album starts with the mellow beaty but strong ‘My deliverer’ on which the singer declares praises singing ‘My deliverer you rescued me from all that held me captive’. ‘How much’ would set your mind on God’s love. The song asks the question how much we are loved by our heavenly father. ’Victorious’, ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’ and ‘Freedom song’ declare the mighty saving power of our God.
Gospel Rapper Blanca (from Group 1 Crew) is featured on the bouncy and lyrically bold ‘Definition of me’. Mandisa’s voice stands out passionately on ‘Not Guilty’ with lyrics that would keep you meditating on what Jesus did on the cross even after the music stops. ‘He is with you’ is an encouragement through hard times of trials, loneliness and pain. ‘Leave it in the valley’ is an encouragement to a friend having a supposed hard day. The poppy tune alone would brighten up anyone’s day. The album ends on a very mellow note with ‘You wouldn’t Cry (Andrew’s song),a song that deals with loss, grief and the realities of heaven. I love it so much cause the song is from the perspective of the deceased in heaven telling those on earth that He’s in a better place and that if they could only see where he is they wouldn’t even cry for him.
One thing I admire about Mandisa is that while contemporaries of hers hide their faith behind pop culture, she is so bold to declare it and that’s so encouraging. With ‘Freedom’ she doesn’t fail to declare the Gospel in its ability to make one free. Thanks Mandisa. You rock!
The Grammy Awards which was broadcast live by CBS at 8 P.M ET/PT from the Staples center in L.A. wowed lovers of Gospel Music on the 31st of January. The amazement started off in December when the Nomination list was released. It’s the norm for the Expected to be overlooked. Now I don’t mean to undermine the nominated artist (in the Gospel section) but some albums which also did very well last year didn’t even see the Grammy’s break light. Since the nomination in December, we were already expecting the unexpected. Even the Nominations weren’t expected. See for yourself what I mean.
Best Gospel Performance
• "Wait On The Lord" - Donnie McClurkin Featuring Karen Clark Sheard - WINNER
• "Free To Be Me" - Francesca Battistelli
• "Jesus Is Love" - Heather Headley Featuring Smokie Norful
• "I Believe" - Jonny Lang With Fisk Jubilee Singers
• "Born Again" - Third Day
Best Gospel Song
• "God In Me" - Erica Campbell, Tina Campbell & Warryn Campbell, songwriters
Performed by Mary Mary featuring Kierra "KiKi" Sheard - Track from: The Sound - WINNER
• "Born Again" - Tai Anderson, David Carr, Mark Lee & Mac Powell, songwriters
Performed by Third Day - Track from: Revelation
• "City On Our Knees" - Cary Barlowe, Toby McKeehan & Jaime Moore, songwriters
Performed by TobyMac
• "Every Prayer" - Dayna Caddell, Israel Houghton, Aaron Lindsey & Ricardo Sanchez, songwriters
Performed by Israel Houghton & Mary Mary - Track from: The Power Of One
• "The Motions” - Jason Houser, Sam Mizell & Matthew West, songwriters
Performed by Matthew West - Track from: Something To Say
Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album
• Live Revelations - Third Day - WINNER
• The Big Picture - Da' T.R.U.T.H.
• Crash - Decyfer Down
• Innocence & Instinct - Red
• The Dash - John Wells-The Tonic
Now you tell me, how do you compare Da’ T.R.U.T.H. with Red. Worlds apart! Totally different genres and both do lovable music. I really think the Grammy committee should consider splitting this category.
Best Pop/Contemporary Gospel Album.
• The Power Of One - Israel Houghton - WINNER!
• Speaking Louder Than Before - Jeremy Camp
• The Long Fall Back To Earth - Jars Of Clay
• Love Is On The Move - Leeland
• Freedom - Mandisa
Now this is cruel and funny and I’m laughing out loud. Calling Israel Houghton’s Music Pop? I guess I have to listen again.
Best Southern, Country, or Bluegrass Gospel Album
• Jason Crabb - Jason Crabb - WINNER
• Dream On - Ernie Haase & Signature Sound
• The Rock - Tracy Lawrence
• In God's Time - Barry Scott & Second Wind
• Everyday - Triumphant Quartet
Now, I’m really not to familiar with this genre but what happened to Bart Milliard’s Hymned Again and Patty Loveless’ latest Album?
Best Traditional Gospel Album
• Oh Happy Day - Various Artists - EMI Gospel/Vector Recordings - WINNER
• God Don't Never Change - Ashley Cleveland
• The Law Of Confession, Part I - Donald Lawrence & Co.
• The Journey Continues - The Williams Brothers
• How I Got Over - Vickie Winans
Yeah yeah, the Oh Happy day album was good but the album featured some mainstream artist also. And I really don’t know what Vickie Winans latest effort is doing in this category. The album is so contemporary and upbeat. It should have been placed in Contemporary Gospel.
Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album
• Audience Of One - Heather Headley - WINNER
• Renewed - Sheri Jones-Moffett
• Just James - J Moss
• Smokie Norful: Live - Smokie Norful
• Bold Right Life - Kierra Sheard
Now don’t get me wrong, J Moss’s Just James and Kierra Kiki Sheard’s Bold Right Life are two amazing albums and really that’s the type of R&B this generation is familiar with. I have the other albums mentioned in this category and I really had a great time listening to them (especially Sheri Jones-Moffett’s Renewed. Her voice is amazing. You should get the album) but apart from Kierra’s and J Moss’s the rest are basically church music. Anyway it’s all well and it ends well.
Really I had my heart desires concerning this past Grammys. Like seeing Britt Nicole picking up a Grammy for ‘The Lost Get Found’ album ( but sorry she wasn’t even nominated). Also would have loved to have Addison Road, Skillet, Cadia, Switchfoot, Hillsong, Michael W. Smith, Casting crowns, Damita and many more others on the nomination list ( Now don’t say I’m biased cause this guys are really good too, but it’s only a wish any way).
Lastly,I recently gave a friend of mine who listens to strictly Mainstream Music a copy of Skillet’s new CD ‘Awake’ and he was like ‘Oh my, that’s like the best rock album I’ve listened to in a while’. I believe a lot of our CCM and Gospel musicians have what it takes to compete with the mainstream guys so why on earth are they kept in a box in the Grammys (and their category don’t even get TV time. Can you imagine that? ) Dear Grammy Committee, Please set them free and let them soar. That is nominate them with the main category, let Leeland compete against The Dave Mathews band, Let Britt Nicole Compete against Pink, T-pain with Lecrae and Mandisa Maybe against Beyonce. They’ve got what it takes and if they don’t let them soar, their wings would get stronger.
Friday, February 12, 2010
Artist – Hillsong
Album – Faith+Hope+Love
Label – Integrity
Street Date – August 4, 2009.
Album Length – 13 tracks. 1 hour, 15 minutes, 23 seconds.
Genre – Praise and Worship/ Acoustic Rock
IPod Pick – Yahweh
For Music that is all and strictly worship, all roads leads to Hillsong church Australia (Pastor Brian Houston). For the past decade and more, Hillsong has not failed to drop a full length album of worship songs each year ( including Hillsong United and Hillsong Kids who do the same). Their worship music has created a standard for church music all over the world. The latest addition to their worship collection is ‘Faith+Hope+Love’.
The amazing thing about Hillsong is that it consists a collection of gifted Musician and songwriters who have a heart for God. The album opener is a ‘tum- tum’ upbeat praise song (‘First and the last’). Jad Gillies smooth voice comes in next leading ‘For your name’ also upbeat. David Ware’s soulful voice comes in next on ‘Glow’. The album highlights are ‘It’s your love’ (written by Mia Fieldes and lead by her and Darlene Zschech),and ‘I will Exalt You’ (Written and lead by Brooke Fraser Ligertwood). The latter would lead you to worship in tears with Brooke’s ad lib reaching towards the heaven. The song sure has a story behind it. It’s a church ready tune for worship. Simple Psalmic lines that are easy to learn with first listen. Reuben Morgan comes in next leading ‘Yahweh’, my favorite on this project. The song lyrics are so sincere, true and directed towards God. You would be worshiping deeply before the track comes to an end, even after the last guitar string fades out.
The album picks two tracks from Hillsong United’s latest project ‘Tear down the walls’ (‘No reason to hide’ and ’You Hold Me Now’).But really this songs sound much better on this project. Jill McCloughtry’s Voice shines on ‘We the redeemed’ which is also written by her. Brooke Fraser Ligertwood appears again ‘His Glory Appears’ which is actually penned by Darlene Zschech. A mellow lovely worship song and the shortest track on the album. Darlene’s sweet voice shines on ‘The Wonder of Your Love’ a co-write between Leeland and Marty Sampson.
A fresh collection of worship and praise song is what we have all through on Hillsong latest project. For lovers of worship that leads to the courts of bliss of our God even helping us touch the hem of his garment, Faith+Hope+Love is a must listen.
Artist – Switchfoot
Album – Hello Hurricane
Label – Atlantic Records/Lowercase People Records
Street Date – November 10, 2009.
Album Length – 12 tracks. 49 Minutes, 2 seconds.
Genre – Rock
IPod Pick – Enough to Let Me Go
Veteran rockers from San Diego, California are back again. The members of Switchfoot have established themselves over the years with unique rock tunes incomparable to other contemporaries. Let’s say over the years with the release of seven studio albums,the members of Switchfoot have carved a niche for themselves in mainstream rock music.
Hello Hurricane opens with a head nodding and melodious tune (‘Needle and Haystack life’) that would do any day for a drive downtown. ‘Mess of Me’ follows up sounding like a tune never heard before, the singer cries out to a power greater than his saying ‘ have made a mess of me . . . I wanna spend the rest of my live alive’. Mellow Love song for our savior ‘Your Love is A Song’ follows next. ‘Enough to Let Me Go’ would soon be a favorite after the first play. It’s soothing and very melodic with insightful lyrics to sing along.'Free' sounds a bit like something off a Keane Album.
The title track ‘Hello Hurricane’ is an ‘anthemic’ song that declares that nothing can stop the power of love.’ Hello Hurricane/ You’re not enough/Hello Hurricane/ You can’t silence my love’ Jon foreman lead vocalist of the band sings on this track. On a part the song deals with materialism.
All in all, there’s never been a dull moment with Switchfoot and on ‘Hello Hurricane’ they fail not to deliver the usual unusual. Looking for good rock with inspiring lyrics to rock on to? For now ‘Hello Hurricane’ is your best bet. And who knows it might be knocking on the next Grammy nomination doors for best rock of the year.