Sounds Of Blackness - Africa To America: The Journey Of The Drum

Wednesday 1st June 1994
Sounds Of Blackness - Africa To America: The Journey Of The Drum
Sounds Of Blackness - Africa To America: The Journey Of The Drum

STYLE: R&B
RATING 8 8 8 8 8 8 8 8
OUR PRODUCT CODE: 8223-7976
LABEL: Perspective 5490092
FORMAT: CD Album
ITEMS: 1

Reviewed by Tony Cummings

It's ironic that it took the pop industry to explore the full thrilling, dynamic potential of the gospel choir. While many choir albums put out by America's gospel companies have become formulaic let's have church' exercises, top R&B producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis have broadened the whole musical context in which a black mass choir are heard. Jam and Lewis have done this by getting this truly exceptional choir to sing over dance rhythms complete with samples from the Ohio Players, Honeydrippers and many more ("I Believe" or "I'm Going All The Way"). The choir's director Gary Hines rings the changes by getting his choir to perform in styles from a pre-James Cleveland choir era with African sounds and early Fisk University-style ("Sun Up To Sundown" and "I've Been Buked") spirituals. Throughout the musical interest never lets up. Like its The Evolution Of Gospel' pioneering predecessor there's a thematic, semi-documentary underpinning to the album, a bit like a musical version of 'Roots'. Some of the black consciousness building is a tad clumsy while Langston Hughes poetry extracts are more squirm-worthy than inspiring. But these are minor quibbles. Sister Ann Bennett-Nesby has a spine-tingling lead voice, some of the ensemble choir work is awesome and the big budget inventiveness of the production will keep any purchaser happy.

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

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