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Celebrating Gospel 3

As I continue to celebrate Black Music Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a staple in Black heritage: gospel music. Of the many artists out there, The Winans are one of my favorites.

The Winans: The Definitive Original Greatest Hits is a great introduction to a powerhouse clan. It is a 2 disc set which chronicles the greatest hits of the illustrious and celebrated career of the group of brothers from Detroit. The Winans refers to the brothers who sang together for over 30 years, not the dynamic bother and sister duo of the family known as Bebe and Cece Winans. Marvin, Carvin, Ronald, Michael, an Daniel performed together as a group for over 30 years. The youngest duo, Angie and Debbie, also recorded albums. Elder sister, Vickie Winans, is a solo artist. And of course, Mom and Pop Winans started it all by raising the family in church where singing was the way they expressed their love for God. Collectively, The Winans Family has earned 31 Grammys.

Disc one offers early hits like “Tomorrow”, “The Question Is” and the melodic “Everything You Touch Is A Song”. All three songs start the CD off slow, which gives you a chance to absorb the wonderful harmonies and listen intently to Carvin’s high pitched plea:

‘Tomorrow, who promised you tomorrow
Won’t you choose the Lord Toooo-day? (in his highest falsetto)
Your tomorrow could very well begin today.’

The tempo picks up a bit in disc two with toe tapping offerings like
“Fallow Ground”, “Don’t Be Deceived”, and “Restoration”. Though sung with conviction and purpose, the music comes across as uplifting and non-preachy. This is truly gospel in every sense of the word. Theses songs will lift your soul and lighten your mood. At least that’s what they do of me.

If you are in the mood to explore more gospel greats you may be interested in listening to The Clark Sisters or try The Hawkins Family. You will be glad you did!

Pros: the music is inspirational

Cons: not all Winans songs are included in this collection

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Celebrating Gospel

As I continue to celebrate Black Music Month, I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight a staple in Black heritage: gospel music.

Listening to the Hawkins Family, Mega 3 is a blast from the past for me. It includes the complete tracks from albums “Love Alive”, “Love Alive II”, and “Love Alive III”. This compilation is the result of collaborations between Pastor/Singer/Songwriter, Walter Hawkins and his brother, singer/musician, Edwin Hawkins. When their first album hit back in the 70’s, it was a refreshing blend of traditional gospel and soul stirring vocals all backed up by a capable choir and an accomplished band of musicians. It is important to note that each album is a live recording, a concert in the style of the “midnight musicals” I used to attend back when I was an eager and youthful choir member. You actually feel as if you are there, singing along and “catching the spirit”.

Where do I begin? Lets’s start with first Love Alive offering. Many slow ballads for quiet time or mediation such as “Follow Me”, “Dear Jesus I Love You”, “I Love The Lord”, and “Changed” sung by the incomparable Tramaine Hawkins.

Love Alive II picks up the pace with “Come By Here, Good Lord, and continues lifting spirits with the upbeat “Until I Found the Lord.” What separates Hawkins’ genius from other gospel choirs is their ability to reprise the chorus, prolonging the joyous rapture and allowing talented backup singers to echo the lead. This creates an exhilarating atmosphere which encourages all listeners to participate and sing along—even while listening at home!

Love Alive III includes the rousing “He’ll Bring You Out”, rounding out a truly inspiring collection. Though this disc contains earlier work, the Hawkins clan recorded several additional albums and continued touring the country until founder, Walter Hawkins’ death in 2010.

Not included in this compilation is my favorite, “Thank You” from Love Alive IV and Walter Hawkins final testimony, “Marvelous”, from Love Alive V. The smooth jazz favorite, “What is this?” was recorded on The Hawkins Family album. In my opinion, there is enough material from these CDs for another Mega 3 collection. Whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed!

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