I always marvel at the HUGE number of incredibly talented musicians there are in the world that we would never ever know about were it not for the wonder of technology and sites like YouTube where people can share their gifts with the world.
Case in point. These two. Bailey Stowers and David Taafua, two young people from Melbourne Australia.
I stumbled across this by sheer chance last night. Okay, I fell in love with Kirk Franklin’s song “I Smile” earlier this year, so yes, I’m probably predisposed to liking a cover of the song, but NO ONE can say that this performance is anything less than…FABULOUS…GREAT…I can’t really find the adjective that gives the piece justice. Not only talented, but the JOY they express while performing is wonderful. OH…I forgot…this isn’t the video so you can’t see facial expressions. Take a listen here and then ya gotta watch it on YouTube!!!
Trin-i-tee 5:7 was formed in 1998 by three talented young women, all elementary school friends, from New Orleans. They were marketed as the gospel alternative to R&B girl groups such as Destiny’s Child and TLC, hoping they could “cross over” to the secular urban R&B market much like Kirk Franklin had done. Their first album, “Spiritual Love”, soared to the top of the gospel charts, broke into the top 20 R&B albums on the Billboard charts, and went Gold.
This is a kewl, modern day rework of Thomas A. Dorsey’s classic, “Walking Up The King’s Highway (It’s A Highway To Heaven)”. The arrangement and some of the vocals are pretty amazing (Lady Tramaine Hawkins helps out on some of the vocals).
I've Got A Feeling Everything's Gonna Be AlrightBetty Cook Clark7:07
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Great song. Old school, and, for the first five and a half minutes, Betty and the choir are accompanied by only a drum, tambourine and hands. But, like so many songs, this song resurrects itself after it ends the first time and at 5:54, the whole band kicks in to take the song out in a glorious style. Something for everyone to love in this song.
Central Never BusyThe Savannah Community Choir3:22
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I have so much fun researching some of these songs. I tried, in vain, to find the lyrics to this seemingly basic gospel song based on the the old “call Him up” theme. It seems that the lyrics are from an old Methodist hymn titled “The Royal Telephone” that was written by Frederick Lehman way back in 1919. Since that time, the song has become a staple country/southern gospel song (I found a version performed on The Jimmy Swaggart Show!), thanks in large part to a version recorded by Burl Ives in 1961, and a follow up recording in 1963 by another “country/pop/gospel” singer Jimmy Little that got international distribution.
This true gospel version by The Savannah Community Gospel Choir lifts the first verse of the song, and then pretty much vamps the song through to the end.
If you are interested, here is the original melody of the hymn which I have set to some video:
It’s fun to read the lyrics to “The Royal Telephone” as well.
Central’s never “busy,” always on the line;
You may hear from heaven almost any time;
’Tis a royal service, free for one and all;
When you get in trouble, give this royal line a call.
Telephone to glory, oh, what joy divine!
I can feel the current moving on the line,
Built by God the Father for His loved and own,
We may talk to Jesus through this royal telephone.
There will be no charges, telephone is free,
It was built for service, just for you and me;
There will be no waiting on this royal line,
Telephone to glory always answers just in time.
Fail to get the answer, Satan’s crossed your wire,
By some strong delusion, or some base desire;
Take away obstructions, God is on the throne,
And you’ll get your answer through this royal telephone.
If your line is “grounded,” and connection true
Has been lost with Jesus, tell you what to do:
Prayer and faith and promise mend the broken wire,
Till your soul is burning with the Pentecostal fire.
Carnal combinations cannot get control
Of this line to glory, anchored in the soul;
Storm and trial cannot disconnect the line,
Held in constant keeping by the Father’s hand divine.
I Won't Turn BackDr. Cynthia Nunn & The Abdundant Life Mass Choir6:54
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I’ll buy someone a coke if they can figure out what song this is from the simple 35 second intro (I love the “bent” chord on the keyboard at :25). I’m pretty good at this stuff and it caught me by surprise; I’ve never found a recording of this song before…and I know the song by a different title.
For those of you who may end up knowing the song after it gets going, sing along, but listen closely to the parts, for some are different than what you may know (soprano and alto only by a note or two, the tenor part is completely different). AND this version has a fabulous three minute vamp at the end…a real treat.
This powerful, soul baring song is a rap/mix using the 1984 song “Shout” by Tears For Fears as the backing track. Only Kirk Franklin would be bold enough to release this song…as a “gospel song” no less…which, in essense, it is.
The story behind this song is quite deep and I’ve taken narrative from several sources to cobble together the following writeup. It’s long, but worth the read…but let me start with the lyrics to the song so you can read along as you listen the first time through.
Let It Go
My mama gave me up when I was four years old
She didn’t destroy my body but she killed my soul
Now it’s cold ’cause I’m sleeping in my back seat
Understand the spirit’s willing but my flesh is weak
Let me speak, I never had a chance to dream
Ten years old finding love in dirty magazines
Miss December you remember I bought you twice
Now I’m thirty plus and still paying the price
Had a sister that I barely knew
Kind of got separated by the age of two
Same mama different daddy so we couldn’t fake it
I saw my sister’s daddy beat her in the tub naked
Take it serious the demons in the man’s mind
The same daddy with rape charges now he’s doing time
Crack followed and like daddy prison thirteen years
Haven’t her but she’s traded tears for fears
Let it all out
These are the things I can do without
So come on
I’m talking to you
So come on
Sex was how I made it through
Without someone to teach you love what else is there to do?
So where I’m from they call you gay and say you ain’t a man
Show them you ain’t no punk
Get all the girls you can
A simple plan that still haunts me even now today
Back to seventeen and got a baby on the way
No G.E.D. all I see is failure in my eyes
If you listening then remember I apologize
I was raised falling in the church
Made mistakes heard the Lord’s calling in the church
After service on the parking lot getting high
Wanted to be accepted so bad I was willing to die
Even tried to tell the pastor but he couldn’t see
Years of low self esteem and insecurities
Church taught me how to shout and how to speak in tongues
But preacher teach me how to live now when the tongue is done, help me
See I’m. See I’m
Soul surviver. Soul survivor
I just wanna let it go
World survivor, soul survivor
Just wanna let it go
Jesus please on my knees can’t you hear my crying
You said to put it in your hands and lord I’m really trying
You wasn’t lying when you said you’d reap what you sow
Like that night mama died
Hard to let it go
You adopted me
Cared for me
And changed my name
But I cursed at you
Lied to you
Left your pain
It’s not strange I can still see it in my head
To know for hours you were laying in that bed
If you listening to this record,
If it’s day our night
If my mama still living treat your mama right
Don’t be like me and let that moment slip away
And be careful cause you can’t take back what you say
To my real mama if you listening I’m letting it go
To my father I forgive you ’cause you didn’t know
The pain was preparation for my destiny
And one more thing lord let my son be a better man than me
As the minor keys of the piano trickle in the background at the beginning of the heart wrenching “Let It Go,” Franklin raps about the trials and tribulations that have marked his short 35 years. From tales of being abandoned by his mother at the age of four and being separated from his sister to his battles with low self-esteem and pornography, “Let It Go” has the aura of Tupac backed by the wisdom of a minister.
In his book “Church Boy” published in 1999, Franklin detailed his difficult childhood where he was abandoned by his parents, abused and took solace in pornography and sexual promiscuity. Why record a song about those struggles now (2005) he asked rhetorically? He responds, “What’s funny is that the idea for that song came in 1999 but I didn’t have an album to put it on. I was in New York and God just kind of dumped that idea for that song. But I couldn’t do that song on my 2002 ‘Rebirth’ album because it would have stuck out like a sore thumb.”
In December 2005, Kirk Franklin appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to talk openly and honestly about his battle with pornography. The song “Let It Go” seems to benchmark a moving on from the issues of his youth. “The song IS part of the healing,” he admits. “The healing may take a lifetime, totally, but doing this song was the beginning of that process.
“Let It Go” also talks about other areas of emotional damage from the childhood abandonment and sexual promiscuity which still has a knock-on affect today.
In the early days of his ministry, Kirk Franklin has confessed that he was living a double life, playing gospel music on stage and in church but behind the scene he was sleeping around. He even fathered a child outside of wedlock. He’s not proud of these things and I wondered what impact his sin had on his ministry. How could he think about doing gospel concerts when his personal life was in such a mess? He speaks honestly, “There were many times that I would wonder, how somebody as jacked up as me could be in full time ministry? I guess because God saw 2006 and saw that it would become part of a testimony that would help other men; that would help other women. It was a very painful season. It was a very convicting season and I just really felt condemned a lot. And just really struggled. That was a major struggle for my life and I’m just very grateful that his grace and his blood doesn’t count me out. He’s more patient with me than I am with myself.”
There is only one Rance Allen and you know when you are listening to one of his songs. Not only are they unique, they are in their own sub-genre of gospel. Contemporary, yes, but always with a Rance Allen twist. Throw in Rance’s unique voice, and more unique phrasing and grunting and all, and you have something special.
This song catches you off guard from the start with it’s angelic strings and bells sound only to break into a bass heavy funk.
And his lyrics! Singing about the miracle of changing water into wine he says,
“He went to a wedding one night, hey
They say the party was outta sight.
Somebody said ‘Can I have something to drink’?
Jesus said, ‘Wait a minute, let me think’…
That’s when he blew their mind
Time after time;
Started off when he turned that water into wine…
He was a miracle worker….
The first time I heard this song I was a at a farewell party for an elder member of The Boston Community Choir who was relocating to Florida. As the party wound down, he stepped forward and asked if it would be alright if he sang a song. Everyone nodded okay and he started singing this song…acapella…and the choir jumped right in! It was a moment I’ll never forget because he had a booming baritone/bass voice and sang every word with power and conviction.
Although some peace loving folk find songs like this too militant and bellicose for their liking, I’m fine with them when they are sung from the heart and with soul.