Live from Los Angeles – Vol. 2 – Beverly Crawford

Beverly Crawford
Live from Los Angeles – Vol. 2
JDI Records (2010)

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Recall Bobby Jones and New Life’s glory days and you will readily recall the voice that made the group a favorite throughout the early 90’s.  Several solo projects, a Grammy nomination, and a Stellar award win later, Beverly Crawford returned again in September with Live from Los Angeles – Vol. 2, and we can see she is still giving God the glory, ministering to His people, and singing us into frenzies.

The project’s opening number “It’s About Time for a Miracle,” set to what may as well be called “shouting music,” ignites the fire that burns throughout the album.  By the time “Miracle” graduates to its vamp, I can most certainly envision that Crawford and her audience are singing, praising, and pickin’ ’em up and puttin’ ’em down all at the same time.

Next up is “It’s So,” a tempo contrast to the preceding track.  Crawford, who serves as co-pastor at Gainesville Family Worship Center with her husband Todd, delivers the verses just like the singing preacher that she is.  By the song’s end, the preacher is in high gear, exhorting us in sermonette fashion to “name it, claim it, believe it, accept it–it is so!”

From there, she sprinkles a fair amount of quartet-flavored seasoning on the Doug Williams-penned “Born Again,” making the choir tune just right for down-home Sunday morning church.  She then reminds us that she not only can take us to church, but can also lead us into worship with the self-penned “For Who You Are”–easily the centerpiece of this project.

Another standout is “Everything Will Be Alright” (written by Shawn McLemore), the James Brown-esque groove with sassy, brassy horns for which Crawford and her friend and industry contemporary Shirley Murdock team up. As expected, the two make a great tag team, taking turns with the soaring lead vocals.  (You’ll likely be hearing them again on Murdock’s upcoming live CD/DVD.  See GMF’s related post here.)  “Serve You Well” is the beautiful ballad that follows.  Then Crawford is joined by her youngest daughter, Latrina Crawford, on “Radical Praise.”  It’s “I Need A Word” however, where Latrina’s vocality as a soloist shines.

Rounding out the project is “Marvelous,” written by Myron Butler and Ted Winn.  Crawford brings Murdock back in the reprise to riff over the climactic vamp, and the two have us headed straight into another frenzy.

With Michael Bereal and Professor James Roberson handling the production of this project, Live in Los Angeles – Vol. 2 encompasses all that we’ve come to enjoy about Beverly Crawford’s ministry through the years and affirms why she remains a force to be reckoned with among today’s female traditional gospel artists.

Favorites

“Born Again” – “For Who You Are” – “Everything Will Be Alright” – “Marvelous”

Fever Meter
SMOKIN’ (4 of 5 Stars)

Sizzlin’ This Week (5/2/11) – “Brand Nu Lyfe”

“Brand Nu Lyfe”
C. Lewis ft. E-quipped
Available free via email: [email protected]

If you’re old enough to remember 1980’s TV, then “Brand Nu Lyfe” will definitely sound familiar.  One reason (the obvious one) is because the hip-hop track opens with a sample of the theme song from popular sitcom Who’s the Boss?  The other reason is because C. Lewis is both creative and intentional enough to merge the familiar and the foreign, thereby creating a really relatable song with a broad appeal.

In “Brand Nu Lyfe,” which incorporates rap combined with melodic singing on the hooks, Lewis and Greensboro, NC based gospel artist E-quipped (who are also the track’s producers), rap about life’s ups and downs and the hope for better days ahead.  Lewis says that amid a backslidden state, he remained connected to music, but struggled with the right concept for the theme song idea.  Once he returned to Christ, however, he experienced a renewal that caused everything to come together.

“Sometime last winter I was making beats at home, and I came across that theme song again,” he says.  “It just came to me as clear as day in the last sentence: nights are long but you might awaken to a brand new life around the bend.  With all I was and am currently going through, it serves as a very fitting reminder that in Christ, there’s always hope for a new start.”

In addition to reconnecting with Christ, Lewis also hooked up again with his friend of 10 years, Emil Goergen III, better known as E-quipped.  The two were once part of a group called Remnant Flame.  Now they’re back together, ministering through their music and giving others hope for a “Brand Nu Lyfe.”

Sizzlin’ This Week is the GMF editor’s gospel music pick of the week from her personal playlist.  Every style. Every era.

“Be Still” – Yolanda Adams

“Be Still” 
Yolanda Adams
From the CD, Becoming (Available May 3, 2011)
After almost four years, Yolanda Adams is blessing us again with new music like only she can deliver. Adams’ eleventh studio album, Becoming, is scheduled to drop May 3rd (exclusively at Walmart), and her single, “Be Still,” is already growing on old and new fans alike.
 
Perhaps it seems paradoxical that Adams’ current single is “Be Still.”  With a rigorous performance schedule, a highly successful morning show, and the release of her first book, Points of Power, the multi award-winning songstress appears to have been everything but still during her recording hiatus. 
The lyrics, however, don’t refer to life’s business as much as life’s busyness.  Expressed in tandem with Adams’ characteristically flawless vocals is the loving appeal from Father to child to “sit in silence and to find out I’ve always been right here, waiting on you to come near me….Be still and know, just be still and know I will never leave your side.”
 
“Be Still” is available at www.yolandaadamslive.com.

"Lord I Thank You" – Tykelia Waddell

Tykelia Waddell
“Lord I Thank You”
Available at CD Baby

Tykelia Waddell, from Cicero, IL, has a pretty good idea about what young people are listening to these days.  When she adds her youthful urban contemporary sound to tight background harmonies and a rhythm and synth-based instrumental, the result is the upbeat urban praise song “Lord I Thank You.”

After hearing “Lord I Thank You,” I was tempted to grab my rollerblades, find a youth skate night, and slip this single to the deejay.

"I Know Who I Am" – Michelle Williams

“I Know Who I Am”
Michelle Williams
Available at CD Baby

Michelle Williams asserts her identity in Christ in the aptly titled single, “I Know Who I Am.”  Throughout the uptempo praise declaration, Williams testifies to being an overcomer: “‘Cause I’m a victor / Yes I’m a winner / In the presence of my foes, He makes me dinner / I’m a champion / A kingdom heir / Don’t be mad at me ’cause favor ain’t fair!”

Accented with punchy bass, exploding drum licks, and hammering horns, “I Know Who I Am” is right at home on playlists alongside contemporary praise artists like Martha Munizzi.

"Absolutely, Positively" – Shaunda

“Absolutely, Positively”
Shaunda
From the upcoming CD, Sweet Smelling Savour
Available at Shaunda Music

“Absolutely, Positively” is for lovers.  With only piano accompaniment–which Rashaunda McNeil, known simply as Shaunda, plays when performing live–and tender background vocals, Shaunda takes us on an acoustic stroll through the intense emotion of a fulfilling love affair.

You see, this sister is in love.  Just ask her, and she’ll tell you about “JC.”  Shaunda will even tell you how He gave her the inspiration for this neo-soul worship ballad.

“I was playing around with some beautiful chords in the practice room of [North Carolina] A&T’s music room, and I asked the Lord to give me some words. As I was playing I saw the phrase ‘ABSOLUTELY no eating or drinking in this room’–no joke,” she laughs.  “Then I said to myself, ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY.  From there, the words to ‘Absolutely, Positively’ flowed out….Even though seeing the word ‘absolutely’ sparked a start, I honestly believe the lyrics that flowed were in my heart already, from a life of worship to God.”

Whether ministering with Kim Burrell and Earnest Pugh, opening for Mali Music at a neo-soul gathering, serenading couples on their nuptial day, or working within the music and young adult ministries at Cornerstone Christian Community Church (her home base in Oxford, NC), it’s clear that worship is the essence of her being and therefore the thrust of her ministry to others.

“Absolutely, Positively” is currently available at Shaunda Music.  The full-length project, Sweet Smelling Savour, is currently being completed; GMF will keep you posted.

Sizzlin’ This Week (4/25/11) – “A God Somewhere”

“A God Somewhere”
Inez Andrews and the Andrewettes featuring Liz Dargan
Originally released on the Songbird Records label
Available as an mp3 download on Amazon

It is terribly hard to beat the hardcore, organic sounds of gospel music from its Golden Era and the years that immediately follow.  This week, trust me when I tell you this sizzler is a T-H-R-O-W-B-A-C-K!

Inez Andrews is known as one of the dynamos of the legendary Caravans.  Her wailing (and often shrieking) lead on Caravans numbers such as “I’m Not Tired Yet,” “I’m Willing to Wait,” and “Oh Mary Don’t Weep” helped to solidify the group’s position as one of the most successful female groups of the era.  In the early 1960’s, Andrews branched out, forming her own group called Inez Andrews and the Andrewettes.  This week’s sizzler features her group with the belting contralto of Liz Dargan on lead.  (In another spin-off, Dargan also eventually left the Andrewettes to form her own group, the Gospelettes.  They too were signed to Songbird Records.)

“A God Somewhere” was released on the album called The Need of Prayer (1963) and as a 7-inch vinyl single in 1965.  While it is going to be difficult to find in these formats, you can download it as an mp3 on Amazon.

(Photo: Inez Andrews, right, and the Andrewettes with Liz Dargan on lead)

Official Music Video by K-Praise – "Count Your Blessings"

“Count Your Blessings” Official Music Video (2011)
K-Praise
I AM Records

K-Praise’s new hip-hop music video, “Count Your Blessings” is an attention-grabber for sure.  The eye-catching graphics, fast-paced transitions, and creative logo parodies will hold your interest, but it’s the lyrical flow and content that’ll have you and your mama bobbing your heads and naming your blessings right along with the young Oklahoma-based gospel rapper.

K-Praize, born Kevieion Johnson, made his recording debut in 2004, and was given his stage name (which stands for Kevieion Praising God) shortly thereafter.

The “Count Your Blessings” audio track is one of sixteen on K-Praise’s current CD release, Kingdom Certified (Reinforced).  The project is available at iTunes.  The official music video is below.

Editor’s Picks of the (Easter) Season

By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever

Easter is, by many, one of the most celebrated seasons in the Christian liturgical year.  Consequently, it is no surprise that there is an abundance of glorious gospel music to match.

It was excruciating, but I did it: I limited my picks to ten classic (or destined to be classic) gospel recordings.  In random order, here are my favorites for one of the most wonderful times of the year:

He Was Hung Up for My Hangups
Twinkie Clark
From Home Once Again: Live in Detroit (2004)
 
No Fault
Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s
From Good Time (2000)
 
Albertina Walker CD artOh Lord Remember Me
Albertina Walker
From Songs of the Church (1997)
 
The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power
Andrae Crouch
From Take the Message Everywhere (1969)
 
Jesus Paid It All
Margaret Allison & The Angelic Gospel Singers
From Lord You Gave Me Another Chance (1989)
 
The Blood Still Has Miraculous Power
Kurt Carr & The Kurt Carr Singers
From Awesome Wonder (2001)
 
Medley: There’s A Fountain/Room at the Cross for You/The Old Rugged Cross
Shirley Caesar
From Hymns (2001)
 
O The Blood
New Jersey Mass Choir
From Hold Up the Light (1987)
 
Marvelous 
Walter Hawkins & The Love Center Choir
From Love Alive V – 25th Anniversary Reunion (1998)
 
Blood Medley
Donnie McClurkin
From Psalms, Hymns & Spiritual Songs (2005)

 

Sizzlin' This Week (4/18/11) – "I Know It Was the Blood"

“I Know It Was the Blood”
Smokie Norful feat. Joe Ligon & the 12th District AME Mass Choir
From the CD, How I Got Over…Songs That Carried Us (2011)
EMI Gospel

Regardless of whose project he’s featured on, it’s safe to say that if Joe Ligon is singing, it’s going to be churchy.

Well, this time the quartet legend teams up with the phenomenal Smokie Norful, and just right for the Lenten season is their rendering of “I Know It Was the Blood,” on Norful’s How I Got Over…Songs That Carried Us.  Church is exactly where they take you, singing about the blood of Jesus with such conviction that you have the impression that they were eyewitnesses to that dark hour at Calvary.