*When you become recognizable for your sound you have made it. Well St. Paul, MN natives, Mint Condition, have made it. There is nothing like the sound of the five member band properly named Mint Condition. Vocally lead by the unmistakable voice of Stokley Williams (also drums), Mint Condition – Rickey Kinchen (bass), Homer O’Dell (guitar), Larry Waddell (keyboard)l and Jeffrey Allen (sax and keyboard)-  are promoting “7”(Cage Bird/Shanachie Records), a banging new album that is sure to bring bands but by popular demand – specially the way they work it.

“We hookup, we write, we rehearse. We just create and really don’t think of it,” the guys said when asked their style of songwriting. “It’s hard,” they said about keeping a group together, “We get in bickering fits here and there…you are going to clash, we’re all unique. But we try to keep our eye on the big picture…the music we know we have.”

Mint Condition is celebrating 20 years of providing good music together. It started for them at Central High School’s performing arts program where they formed the band. While playing at a gig producers Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis caught the act and immediately signed them to their Perspective Records imprint.

Mint Condition released three albums, while at Perspective, “Meant to be Mint,” “From the Mint Factory” and “Definition of a Band.” From those projects came the “classic” hits we all enjoy today – “Breakin’ My Heart (Pretty Brown Eyes),” ”So Fine,” “What Kind Of Man Would I Be,” and “You Don’t Have To Hurt No More.”

The guys went on to sign with Elecktra Records releasing “Life’s Aquarium,” “Living the Luxury Brown,” “E-Life.” With their seventh album, “7,” released I can almost guarantee that it will produce another classic hit – or two.

Though the entire album will find you playing it from beginning to end, my favorite cuts on the project include “Walk On” for its Pop feel; “Caught My Eye” for its traditional Mint Condition sound; “Not My Daddy” featuring Kelly Price, a nice R&B number; “Mind Slicker” a very Urban cut; “Ease the Pain” for its a funky feel, and “Unsung,” which is so beautiful in so many ways – with sweet vocal support from Tonia Hughes-Kendrick.

Mint Condition will be at the Essence Music Festival and making other appearances to promote the “7” release. For updated information log onto www.MintConditionMusic.com.

The unbelievable vocals of Gaye Arbuckle on ‘Holy’ take Contemporary Gospel to a new level

*Born in Texas, Contemporary Gospel artist Gaye Arbuckle began singing at the tender age of six. Since then she has spend her life perfecting her music and this album, “Holy,” gets very close. Maybe it’s her degree from Prairie View A&M University or her experience as musical director at Baptist Student Union or as minister of music at Concord Church that has given her that versatile vocal strength. Then maybe it could be her passion for spreading God’s word.

“Singing came naturally since I was six,” Gaye said about her life. “I would actual go to the piano to make sure I was in the right key.”

When explaining her fresh Contemporary delivery of the Gospel she said with a smile, “Though secular music wasn’t allowed in the house I did listen to Barbra Streisand.”

Gaye Arbuckle’s sound can go from Traditional Gospel to Pop and from R&B and Christian style music. In it all you can tell she is on fire for God’s word. Fiery just like her trademark red natural hair. Arbuckle has performed as opening act for such artists as Yolanda Adams, Kirk Franklin, Vickie Winans, Bebe and Cece Winans, Fred Hammond, Dorinda Clark-Cole, Karen Clark-Sheard, and Kelly Price.

The two-time Texas Gospel Music Excellence Award winner has released two other projects “Thinking About It,” in 2002 and “Miracles and Blessings” in 2007. Her new project “Holy” offers 10 masterly crafted songs that not only show her vocal abilities but offer the “message” in many genres of musical ways.

“This one is more scripture based,” Gayle pointed out about the difference in this album and her previous. “People remember scripture when it’s with music.”

My favorites on the “Holy” CD are “Madaase” for its African “motherland” feel; “Totally Committed” because of her unbelievable use of vocals; “Jesus Is My Rock” because she is “jamming” for the Lord, and “Waiting Right Here” a Heavenly sweet song supported by a wonderful harmonic voices in the background.

For more information of Gaye Arbuckle or her CD “Holy” log onto www.GayeArbuckle.com.