Kim Burrell

*The impeccable Contemporary Gospel vocalist Kim Burrell is back with a new project, “The Love Album,” on the Shanachie imprint. “The Love Album” offers a melting-pot of Contemporary Praise & Worship and Gospel songs that are sure to cross-over into other genres, such as Jazz and R&B.

“I was raised in the church…your mind is committed to God,” said Kim Burrell, who is Pastor of her own church located in Houston, The Love and Liberty Church. “A record label wanted me to sign, so I committed to that.”

Burrell went on to explain that she was still able to spread God’s Gospel, but through recorded song. Her commitment to God was as a member of her father’s church – Church of God in Christ (COGIC) – where she sang since age one. She told me of a life-changing experience where she met a young guy who showed her an obituary and she thought it was his twin, but it was him 6 months ago. He had planned to end his life and had completed preparations for his own funeral. He told her that he heard her sing and it changed ‘his’ life. It was then she realized her ministry “is” her music – so she committed to that.

Labeled a Jazz Gospel singer/songwriter, Kim also has that Urban flavor that has garnered a list of celebrity fans that include Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Chaka Khan and Beyonce’. Her Urban Gospel style has influenced many artists and is very evident in the vocal styles of Jazmine Sullivan.

“The Love Album” is full of different types of music supported by lyrics that sing of God’s love for us and Kim’s love for God. There is Jazz, Urban/R&B and Soul Contemporary Gospel selections on the album. The messages of the songs are so powerful, it made me ask her where her church was – maybe I will stop by if I’m ever in Houston, Texas.

Professionally Burrell started singing for James Cleveland’s GMWA Youth Mass Choir and then went on to appear on Ricky Dillard’s “Worked it Out” album. She signed to a local label Pearl Records in 1995 and released “Try Me Again.” In 1998 she signed to Tommy Boy Gospel and released “Everlasting Life” which reached #12 on Billboard’s Gospel Chart. “Everlasting Life” also earned her a Stellar Award.

In 2000 she recorded her performance at the COGIC Convention in Memphis and it was released in 2001 as a live recording on Tommy Boy Gospel – it garnered her a Grammy Award nomination. By 2002 Kim was signed to Elektra Records to make a guest appearance on Missy Elliott’s “Higher Ground.”

In 2009 she signed to Shanachie and released “No Ways Tired.” The incomparable singer has collaborated with Kirk Franklin, Hezekiah Walker, Shirley Caesar, Harry Connick, Jr., R. Kelly, Stevie Wonder, Tye Tribbett & GA, Richard Smallwood, Marvin Winan’s and Byron Cage.

“It’s been a great response,” Kim said about the new release. “It gives me a whole ‘nother level of commitment. I am praying the church realize…Gospel’s in different forms…to understand. I’m praying that a balance will happen in the church world.”

Burrell said this project is to let people know that God is love. Though the whole album is outstanding from beginning to end, my favorite cuts on the CD are “Let’s Make It To Love” because of its Urban feel; “Sweeter” a jazzy number; “Open Up The Door” because it starts with a slight Country flavor because of the guitar support, then ends as a powerful Urban/R&B cut; “Is This The Way Love Goes” is a typical Jazz song with outstanding piano support, with Kim’s vocals reminiscent of Ella Fitzgerald.

“The Love Album” is produced by Asaph Ward. You can learn more on Kim Burrell and “The Love Album” at www.KimBurrell.net or www.shananchie.com.

Paige Bryan Wins Over Crowd at Recent Club Nokia Performance

*I admit, like most, I went to Club Nokia in Los Angeles to see Sinbad – though I was to review the opening act, Paige Bryan. I tell you by the time Paige finished her set, we all where giving her a standing ovation. She didn’t let on, like I knew, that she was Sinbad’s daughter. She announced it at the end of her set, which resulted in another overwhelming applause.

I remember interviewing a younger Paige Bryan when she was part of a Christian Rock/Urban group, Press Play. Her Urban/R&B sound enhanced greatly the Rock group, which I thought had a fresh Contemporary Christian Music sound.

Now that she is going solo, and older, her sound is much more mature. She sang of triumph over love lost and the joy of love found. Her songwriting, even when she was with the group, is unbelievable. I love the way she gives you visual images with her words as she sings her story. Even though it was a bit too much “love lost” songs for me, her delivery, band and backup singers still had me (and the crowd) egging her on, “you go girl!”

The songs performed by Paige Bryan are on her debut solo project “Imperfect Me” produced by Chaka Blackmon (Christina Aguilera). She has also starred in a docu-series, “Sinbad: It’s Just Family,” that aired for six weeks on WE tv – along with her father Sinbad, mother/manager Meredith Adkins and brother Royce Atkins.

This talented lady has opened for Sean Kingston, Erykah Badu and Macy Gray. For more on Paige log onto www.JustPaige.com or follower her at www.twitter.com/ItsJustPaige.