Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Godfather In Action

Nothing like watching Soul Brother Number One in action on the Mothership of soul music; Soul Train. James Brown visits the "train" during the 1970s and brings the Mighty J.B's to the stage. It's all live music...and this special performance is one not to miss. It's a powerful seven-minute powerhouse medley of James' influential prototype disco signatures: "Get On The Good Feet", "Soul Power" and "Make It Funky". And yes...we seriously had to post this. Because you hear modern gospel music all up in the funky grooves, blazing horn blasts and zesty chord action. All we need now is Tye Tribbett to master that split on stage.

Make sure you have Macromedia Flash downloaded on your computer and have a high-speed connection for best results.

Monday, December 25, 2006

James Brown (1933-2006)

James Brown, better known as the Hardest Working Man in Show Business and referred by many as the Godfather of Soul, leaped upon the musical scene in the mid-1950s with his cool, romantic R&B ballads such as "Try Me" and "Please, Please, Please". But he did something highly unique during his generation that would shake the foundations and frontiers of American music. He would become one of the forerunners of soul music and would also become a pioneer of fresher, unique and zesty musical styles such as funk and disco during the late 1960s and 70s. Songs like "Papa's Got A Brand New Bag", "Say It Loud", "Sex Machine" and "I Feel Good" shook the music world completely. That same rumble heard decades ago is still being heard and felt now even in the pop and hip-hop music world as many of artists pay homage and tribute to the Godfather using sampling - an remixing artform using beats and melodies of original songs.

James Brown blessed us all, whether we knew it or not. His musical style and signature moves has influenced generations of musical giants from most genres. Even in gospel music, artists ranging from the more contemporary (Israel Houghton, Hezekiah Walker, John P. Kee, Ricky Dillard) to the familiar traditional (Dorothy Norwood, Keith Wonderboy Johnson, Rev. Milton Biggham, James Bignon, Angela Spivey) have formed their own styles and sets of music around the funky good sounds of the Godfather. And while he never made a career singing gospel music, he drew from its heavy rhythms and the spirited excitement from gospel music and incorporated it into his now-trademark vocal attributes. He literally placed soul music, one of the early descendants of gospel, into the fibers of American music and culture.

James Brown passed away on Christmas Day 2006 (December 25) at the age of 73. He was hospitalized with severe pneumonia at Emory Crawford Long Hospital on Sunday and died of heart failure around 1:45 a.m. He won a Grammy for lifetime achievement in 1992, as well as Grammys in 1965 for "Papa's Got a Brand New Bag" (best R&B recording) and for "Living In America" in 1987 (best R&B vocal performance, male.) He was one of the initial artists inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1986, along with Elvis Presley, Chuck Berry and other founding fathers.

Remembering The Godfather (
Godfather Of Soul (Offical Website)
James Brown Dies At 73 - New York Times Obituary
PRAYZEHYMN Article: Funky Sensations

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Dear City Stages

Dear City Stages,

I wanted to write this letter, after I noticed during the last couple of weeks, that you began to reach out to the community like never before asking for support to help pull your world-class festival out of the red. I have been following your annual event from day one and recall the days of old as being promising and hopeful. The early stages showed signs of great expectations and we have witnessed many festivals hosted here in our great city of Birmingham emerge from the ashes and fall back into shameful crypts. Yet, your music and arts festival still lives on. And for that achievement, you should be commended.

But I am really puzzled in how on your recent string of commercials to save City Stages with the public friendly campaign you are using the faces of the faith communities to help bring in dollars to your collapsing institution. It's not as if I have a problem with seeing Pastor Stephen Green, of More Than Conquerors Faith Church, on television...even though he seems to be a very popular guy on local television. It's just that I've seen how each year the festival seems to neglect, abandon and disappoint many music forms. Particularly with gospel music.

I've heard many excuses over the years for this problem. You feel it's better to focus on local acts because, in the opinion of your staff, you feel there's a lot of great talent and music here in our area alone. That's a great and positive statement to make. But I tend to look at it using an industry perspective. You invest in bringing big acts to City Stages on rock and pop stages, and sometimes in R&B/hip-hop, but the failure of focusing on big drawing cards to the former gospel stage is a sign that it's not about there being great talent here. Instead it's about putting the money where you feel it needs to be. And gospel music is one of those areas that you fail to fully endorse.

In previous years, your agency has booked great artists like Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Helen Baylor, Wanda Nero Butler, Rodney Posey and LaShun Pace for the former Gospel Stage. But I was always bothered by the lack of well-respected artists you drew in each year. You only could afford ONE artist to highlight the entire three-day festival in the field of gospel music. Some years your festival decided to only feature the gospel stage for two days and most years you closed the gospel stage very early, while the other stages went on; leaving the saints confused on where to go. And some years, you confused everybody by putting gospel artists on stages that is highly surrounded by patrons drunk on site. I still can remember at 1:15 a.m. when the Georgia Mass Choir finally appeared on the Coca-Cola stage a few years ago and still having to deal with drunkards and confused hecklers. That same idea was used when you booked Kurt Carr & the Kurt Carr Singers two weeks before last year's festival....and then you put them on the Coca-Cola the first act. Everyone knows you put the better acts towards the end, yet you put one of our great sensations in today's gospel music at the very beginning of your festival's lineup on that Sunday.

Then I was extremely bothered by how the Gospel Stage dissolved and was renamed as the Music Oasis stage - a stage focusing on eclectic forms of world music ranging from Celtic chimebell ensembles to other religious musical styles. And in the midst of it, you decided to put a few local gospel choirs up. On paper, your record makes it look like you care about gospel music; a historic American musical genre established from the blues during the 1920s and has blossomed into one of the fastest growing genres of music today. But may the truth be told: City Stages is no greater and no better than most industry professionals. It's a game of politics...and because you know we reside in the Bible belt, faith is an essential part of our lifestyles. So you use faith in the end to spearhead a fundraising organism to help City Stages rise from its current sickness.

But this is a sickness that you created, I believe. You killed the presence of real gospel music and replaced it with a very disappointing presentation of local acts that need the same intensity that your bigger stages receive year after year. They want to see Mary Mary, they want to see the Canton Spirituals, they want to see Shirley Caesar, they want to see Yolanda Adams, they want to see Richard Smallwood and Timothy Wright and Youthful Praise and Lisa McClendon. Sadly, you still have not heard their cry.

I look at music festivals across the country and notice that most of them have done the same thing you are doing and are facing. But you can still go to Chicago, New Orleans, Atlanta...they have gospel stages and festivals loaded with the best in gospel music. That's something City Stages fails to live up to.

I refuse to support CityStages now...and I really hope that the Greater Birmingham community, particularly those who really love and support gospel music, will stand with me. We hope you will get the message and learn from your current consequences.

A Disappointed Customer,

J. Matthew Cobb
PRAYZEHYMN Entertainment

Mother Bowman Passes

Mother Mattie A. Bowman, 82, mother of renowned gospel artist Vickie
Winans, slipped away from this side on December, 12 2006. She suffered a massive heart attack on Labor Day this year and had been hospitalized since. The family
hour and viewing of the body will take place on this Sunday,
December 17, 2006 from 3:00 - 4:00 p.m. at:

Perfecting Church
7616 E. Nevada
Detroit, MI 48234

The homegoing service will follow directly after at 4:00 p.m.

Please Send All Flowers to:
Mattie A. Bowman
Stinson Funeral Home
16540 Meyers
Detroit, MI 48235

Or to:
Perfecting Church
7616 E. Nevada
Detroit, MI 48234

Please Send All Cards, Condolences, Etc. to:
Vickie Winans
6689 Orchard Lake Rd. #256
West Bloomfield, MI 48322

A Note From Vickie:
Those of you who have my personal cell phone number, please feel
free to call or text me! I need all the strength I can get! Myself
and my entire family wish to thank all of you in advance for your
love, support, prayers, flowers, gifts, emails, words of
encouragement, smiles, hugs, and whatever else you have given and
will give us! WE LOVE YOU SO MUCH! My Mother will suffer no more!
She is finally with Jesus! And in her own words she would say, "HEY

Florist Information:
Bellasario Florist
Ralph Bellasario
23420 Gratiot
East Point, MI 48021

Wesley Berry Florist, Inc.
6677 Orchard Lake Rd.
West Bloomfield, MI 48322
(248) 851-3404

Pretty Bouquet
326 W. Lafayette Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48226
(313) 416-8607
(313) 963-0775


Monday, December 04, 2006

Gospel Radio Extinction?

"I feel seasons in the air, I feel seasons everywhere..." - Donald Lawrence on

There's a little bit of paranoia resting in the air and it's because the seasons are beginning to change regarding the future of gospel music. While it continues to grow as a genre in terms of popularity and sales, certain regions are being hit hard with the big changes of style and progression of artists - which is releasing uncomfortability and tension on some individuals.

In Birmingham, Ala. alone, the only FM 24/7 gospel radio station, Hallelujah 105.5 FM, quickly faded into darkness as a new sound and signal was released on the same dial this past weekend. The new Vulcan is being hailed as Birmingham's new rock station. Sadly, this also comes as bad news to the black community since WENN-FM (105.5 FM) had a strong historical significance in being the first black FM station in the city of Birmingham. WENN made changes to play gospel music two years ago and has sold its power to playing rock music.

In a city like Birmingham, located in the Bible belt, where gospel music is a serious religious experience to many of the citizens here, it should come as a surprise to hear the present changes on gospel radio. But this trend is probably a national issue.

Part of it has to deal with what gospel radio plays and knowing their limitations. After interning for a gospel radio station, in hopes of reviving its listening audience with fresh music, I realized that gospel radio really doesn't want to live. Instead doing what is traditional and regular, without stretching its potential, is the trend today. The TOP 10 songs are played over and over, half of the DJs barely know the artists or know how to pronounce them...and there is a bit of bias that comes with DJs in terms of what they play. Most of the time if they are unfamiliar with the artist, the favor on their music is usually very limited. Then there's the Gospel Music Workshop's Gospel Announcers Guild, a group that controls most of what gospel radio plays...this group conducts themselves like the record pools conducted back in the Atlantic Records' days and during the height of the disco era. While it's cool to have an association with other DJs and playing what other places like, it's not good to be controlled by other sources. Usually this blocks the DJ's creativity and spark.

Then let us consider that anyone nowadays can push a button to play a song. That's usually what the DJs do now...and they speak a little bit and give us the weather. Instead of directing the music in an amazing flow...the DJs of today have become radio evangelists instead of music directors. While mainstream music rejoices over DJs that remixes songs and mixes on the 1's and 2's on Saturday night while playing endless medleys of the hot songs of today, our DJs just choose a track and have not welcomed new ideas to help strengthen their programs. Because of this, gospel radio sounds outdated. Which is what leads us to the big issue. Gospel radio is now falling into its early stages of extinction.

Without serious changes for growth and maturity, gospel radio will remain an AM pastime. With new ideas and fresh vision, there is room for hope. But as the popularity of satellite radio increases and drivers choosing to play their CDs and mp3s on the road, gospel radio may need to take a seat in the back of the bus. At least for now.

For Birmingham citizens, express your opinions regarding Clear Channel Communications' decision to close HALLELUJAH FM and venture into rock by commenting on the blog. We want to hear from you!


Monday, November 20, 2006

Vanessa Is Back

Seven-time Grammy nominee Vanessa Bell Armstrong will release her highly anticipated album Walking Miracle, on EMI Gospel February 20, 2007. The epic songstress returns front and center stage with her an awe-inspiring, ultramodern full length CD. Time bears no stance on the voice of a true gospel historian, “When I started out, I was a contemporary vocalist however the late Thomas Whitfield mixed it up with a traditional feel and since then I never went far from that,” Armstrong explained, when discussing the range of traditional and contemporary blends on the new LP.

“I love the contemporary and I love the me the time-honored sounds of gospel music is our gives us encourages, but the contemporary-up tempo stuff is what lifts us up." Supporters don’t have to wait until next year to own a sample of the singer’s latest offering. The commercial single So Good To Me is available in stores November 21, 2006.

Walking Miracle captures the hearts of countless Vanessa Bell Armstrong fans, as it includes a parade of soon to be legendary material---saturated with contemporary R&B soul harmony—and irrefutable ‘Ole school’ rips and runs that assist in defining Armstrong’s reputable musical forte. The critically acclaimed singer formulated a new found partnership with super producer Rodney Jerkins, who produced the albums R&B evocative title track “Walking Miracle.” The smooth and sleek track backs Armstrong’s clear and catchy vocals. It is a relatable song for everyone that knows the healing power of God.

“They were praying for my son (who was recently diagnosed with the debilitating disease MS) one Sunday night and the song just came to me,” describes Armstrong. “He is a walking miracle and I know he’s healed and through faith and assurance I am just waiting for the evidence of His promise.” Dark Child Entertainment’s Freddie Jerkins also adds production credits to the new album, submitting the upbeat “Till The Victory Is Won” and the urban contemporary ballad “Fall In Love,” to the upcoming 11-track release. To benchmark this anticipated release, a commercial single from Walking Miracle will be released on November 21, 2006 which includes the hopeful song “So Good To Me,” produced by label mate and Grammy award winner Smokie Norful and the stand out track “Seasons” featuring a guest appearance by the phenomenal J. Moss.

In addition, consumers can view a sneak peek of It’s Over Now, a full length live performance video by going to

Her career highlights prove that Armstrong has truly withstood the test of time. The singer recorded her debut record Peace Be Still (1983) and Chosen (1984) which hit number one on Billboard's Top 10 gospel albums.

In 1987 the singer, took a more middle-of-the-road approach her self-titled LP, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, which included “Pressing On” and "You Bring Out The Best In Me." Later albums consist of Something On The Inside (1993) and The Secret Is Out (1995). Walking Miracle quickly strikes a cord in the souls of listeners, aside from the first-rate production and strong vocals; Armstrong relays a message of Christ.

“When people listen to this album, I want people to know the giver of this wonderful gift is God,” Armstrong said. “He has anointed me to reach the masses. I want people to know that is something better....the thing that we are all missing in today’s world is Jesus....we have to bring that message to them.”

Kudos goes to DC Gospel News Update and EMI Gospel for this article.

Monday, November 13, 2006

PRAYZEHYMN HI-5: Schedule of Events

It's celebration time!

On November 19, 2001, the PRAYZEHYMN Yahoo! Group was formed and quicky grew to become one of the popular gospel communities hosted on Yahoo. Since then, PRAYZEHYMN Entertainment has increased in strength and exposure - with its multiple resources and outlets including and the PRAYZE Report.

We are forever grateful for the journey that God has blessed us with and are excited about the opportunities that face us for the future. In celebration of our five year anniversary, we decided to cook up a number of activities that will surely go down in our history books. Be a part of the celebration.

Below you can view the anniversary schedule of events for the months of November and December. Plus, we created a special flyer that will help guide you through those events while offline. Save it to your computer and plan ahead to be a part of the festivities.


november 13
...presenting the November Edition of PRAYZEHYMN Life

november 17
[James Cleveland Online Memorial]
The offical PRAYZEHYMN tribute to one of Gospel’s greats. Featuring a full overview, scrapbook, external links, accomplishments, music showcase and a section where you can post your personal notes.

november 19
[Win A COBY 256 MB MP3 Digital Music Player]
The big giveaway of the year. All you have to do is answer the “So You Think You Know Gospel” trivia quiz - which will be posted on the site. Get all the answers right and you will be eligible to winning a brand-new MP3 Player. Courtesy of

november 22
[The Journey]
J. Matthew Cobb reveals in an exclusive editorial some of the struggles and battles he had to overcome during the last five years. And learn more about the “haters” and some of the great gospel industry problems of today. Big-time revelations revealed.

november 28
[Giving Out A’s]
The albums are USDA-approved by PRAYZEHYMN. Full of protein and energy. And we are giving away a free CDs. But it must be from the list of A’s we have delivered out in the REVIEW section of It’s a long list to choose from, all you have to do is be a member of the PRAYZEHYMN Fellowship and watch the message board for the trivia question. Reply and you can win. (Excluding A+ albums in PRAYZEHYMN Mastercards’ section).

november 25
[Unity Ensemble Rehearsal]
In or around Birmingham? Are you gifted to sing? The Unity Ensemble will be rehearsing and preparing for the HI-5: PRAYZEHYMN Anniversary Celebration. Must be 18 years of age or older. Email for more details and location.

december 1
[Unity Ensemble Rehearsal]
Rehearsal #2

december 9
[Unity Ensemble Rehearsal]
Rehearsal #3 and final rehearsal

december 10
[HI-5: PRAYZEHYMN Anniversary Celebration]
To be held at Mt. Moriah Baptist Church, Pratt City in Birmingham, AL
5:00 p.m.
Special Guests: Jamel Strong, Trini Massie, A&M Gospel Choir, E. Tony Gaines & VIP, New Zion Bible Way Church Choir and many others
All roads lead to Birmingham on this special night. Come and be a part of the celebration.


Saturday, November 04, 2006

Election 2006: Religious Politikin'

Come November 7th we will finally see who controls what in politics.

Seems like the Dems are fighting and fighting strongly to dominate the Senate this year, since the recent sex scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley, one that has damaged the credibility of the GOP conservative base, and the recent poll numbers surrounding America's disapproval rate about our country's involvements in Iraq. Just recently, Foley decided to step down ammist the allegations that began to pour out surrounding suggestive emails to young men whom had served as Congressional pages. Now with the House Ethics Committee and the FBI both opening investigations on misconduct and possible criminal charges and with Bush's troubling staff in deep water, Democrats are trying to bounce back into the spotlight - hoping to get the attention of voters this coming Tuesday.

President Bush isn't taking this lightly; campaigning extensively to regain the public's interest and support. He continues to reiterate that he will stick out the war in Iraq, but most of U.S. churches, a key part of the conservative foundations of the current republican agenda, remain divided on the issue. Polls show a solid majority, an incredible 60%, are opposed to the war. While recent polls have stressed that the majority of black churches still tend to vote Democrat even though they may be ultra-conservative and tend to fall out on issues regarding abortion and same-sex marriage, Rev. Al Sharpton recently addressed church leaders that social justice, education and fighting poverty remain much more serious issues. African-Americans only make up 13% of the U.S. population, but are important factors when dealing with regional races regarding the Senate and House.

It also seems this year that negative ads, or poking fun at scandals and nasty campaigning, are the attention-getter on television leading up to the Big Day. And apparently the nasty ads are working. Since the Republican party is highly rooted in conservative values and think "liberal" is a curse word, it's amazing that their campaigning this year, which marks the majority of high-spending commercials and advertisements sent out, feels so a campaign staged by an anti-Christ movement.

A troubling scandal surrounding Rev. Ted Haggard, pastor of mega-church New Life Church in Colorado, now troubles the conservative base of the GOP party. Haggard stepped down as pastor of the church as well as the National Association of Evangelicals (a group that highly supports Bush) due to recent allegations from former male prostitute Mike Jones regarding sexual affairs and drug usage with him. Haggard denied most of the claims on television, except for the claim stating that he purchased meth from him. He claims he never used the drug.

The National Clergy Council recently released a public letter showcasing their sympathy over Haggard and feels his decision to step down doesn't make him a hypocrite; claiming he acknowledges his evils.

The Huffington Post covers a whole different side to the hypocrisy. It mentions that the gay community of Colorado Springs recalls Haggard's involvement with them and even exposes video and conflicting statements from the pastor.

Regardless of where one stands on this issue, it is shaking up churches and it is ruffin' up the GOP. Who knows if this situation will play a big part in the turnout this Tuesday. Time will tell.

Since this article made its online appearance, several events have transpired that prove in the polls to have helped both parties.

Saddam Hussein has been convicted to be executed by way of hanging for ordering the murder of ordering the murder of 148 Shi'ite residents of Dujail in 1982. While Tony Blair opposes the death sentence, others across the country including President Bush rejoices to hear the verdict.

Former pastor Rev. Ted Haggard released a public letter to be read to his church. The offical letter can be read here.


Friday, November 03, 2006

Stellar Award Nominations 2007

Well, spread the word. The nominations for the 22nd Annual Stellar Awards have been released to the public by Central City Productions. This year's big recepient include Donald Lawrence; packing a chunky eight nods in all. Other keynote contenders include Myron Butler (with Levi) with nominations for Best New Artist and Kirk Franklin - both sharing a total of seven nominations. Israel Houghton, CeCe Winans and Tye Tribbett also have a bundle of nominations on their plate as well. An interesting place to watch over are Malcolm Williams & Great Faith and Youthful Praise being nominated in the Choir of the Year category. There is also a new category this year for the popular Praise-And-Worship style of music in gospel. Juanita Bynum, Byron Cage, Vickie Yohe and Kevin Burroughs Neely were nominated in that category. An excellent independent project we covered and reviewed on by Kevin Turner is also nominated for Instrumental CD of the Year. Sadly, Norman Hutchins, Andrae' Crouch and Judith Christie-McAllister were not nominated this time around for their excellent albums. Maybe next year's list of nominations will earn their attention.

Often dubbed lately as being the BET Awards of Gospel music, the Stellars will once again celebrate their next award show at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, TN on January 13, 2007.

For more details and the full list of nominees, click here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Is Long Wrong?

Is it wrong for a pastor to appear on a Parental guidance/Explicit album?

Well what if it was our beloved Bishop Eddie L. Long?

Those possibilities have finally come to pass with the recent buzz circulating the newly released, "Release therapy", the #1 hip-hop album from hip hop star Ludacris. We have been following this story for a week already and decided to post a few details about the situation on the PRAYZE Report. The sensationalism from the media has also helped made this a growing storyline.

"Release Therapy", the eighth album release from the hip-hop rapper/entertainer, is hailed to be Ludacris' first personal album. He shows signs of maturity and growing out from the hood-lifestyle and taking on responsibilities as a father and a visionary. The rapper is best known for his crazy antics and youthful pleasures in hit songs like "P-Poppin" (don't ask what the "P' means), "Roll Out (My Business)", "Move Bitch", "Number One Spot", "Hoes In My Room" and "Area Codes", but it takes a slight twist on this project. "Life is about growth and change and that's what's happening right now," he says. "Once you get to your late 20s, a lot of things start becoming more clear. You're just trying to be a better person. ... My main goal is to show the complexities of human nature."

While his album shows two sides of him (Release and Thearpy), his debut single, "Money Maker", shows him playing the role of his former and well-known lifestyle. It features Pharrell Williams and talks about "jiggling body parts and subsequent things to do with them". The video to "Money Maker" is a simple video. It is basically colored backgrounds of orange, green and black throughout the shots. There are shots of Ludacris on the ground rapping with girls surrounding him. Pharell is also singing the chorus around girls on stacks of money. Ludacris has a counting machine that counts how many times he has got a girl to shake her money maker (buttocks) for him. Girls are also dancing throughout the video. The album also features a slate of hip-hop rappers known to be naughty such as R. Kelly, Young Jeezy, Beanie Sigel, Pimp C and C-Murder.

"Therapy" delves deep into Luda's current concerns. On the confessional "Freedom of Preach," bookended by words from New Birth megachurch leader Bishop Eddie L. Long, Luda asks for forgiveness for hip-hop beefs, struggles with Karma's mother and being rude to his fans. He also asks God to forgive others -- including Oprah Winfrey, whom he has criticized for marginalizing rappers.

While the intent may be a blessing for Ludacris, Long is now experiencing growing pains and strains from many in the gospel music community. Currently in the PRAYZEHYMN Gallup To The Polls, 55% of voters have a problem with Long's appearance on Ludacris' album. We are not sure if Ludacris is a member of Long's mega-church, but people are concerned about the intentions and reasons behind this issue of faith.

In conclusion, Luda comments on the intergrity of his recent release. "The sex songs they'll help you relax, the club songs people can unwind and have a good time, and some songs, when I am talking about so many issues, it's release, me getting stuff of my chest," he says. "The truth will set you free."

We have yet to see the day when Benny Hinn appears on a Three 6 Mafia project and T.D. Jakes guest stars on a 50 Cent project. It could very well be on the way.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Recap: Jamel Strong & Message Anniversary Concert

..."a momentous occasion, very spirited and enthusiastic"

These are some of the word that help sum up the past seventh anniversary celebration for Jamel Strong & Message, held last Sunday at the Pentecostal Lighthouse Church in Huntsville, AL. Besides a long wait for the show to begin and an endless soundcheck that bothered most of the audience, the concert began almost an hour later with Wess Morgan, from Hendersonville, Tennessee, providing a few songs of praise-and-worship and a few gospel selections from his newly-released independent project. The audience was overwhelmed and experienced a culture-shock when they noticed that Morgan was Caucasian - but belted notes and tossed out a few vocal aerobic rolls effortlessly. Even the movements of the brother had the audience on their feet. He closed with a rocking traditional number, "He Brought Me Out", that took us all to church.

After he settled, Jamel Strong & Message prepared to set the stage and revealed a spirited set of songs saturated with dynamic praise-and-worship choruses, energetic vocals and vibrant solo spots from the group. Standouts included the calypso-driven "Clap", the uptempo contemporary jam "I Will" (that bears a VaShawn Mitchell resemblance to "Where The Praises Are") and the worship ballad "My Hands Are Lifted Up". The audience was right there - singing along with most of the cuts and showed their love and appreciation for their local hero.

Nikki Ross was also in the audience and was asked to bless the masses with her unique and versatile pipes. After delivering a warm monologue, she expressed her love to God singing "Available To You"; which went over well. Fifteen seconds after singing the melody, Ross branches off into her aerobic, jazzy expressions and showcased why she is so difficult to mimic.

Afterwards, Dathan Thigpen & Holy Nation of Jackson, MS took the stage in their fall colored outfits and plaid uniforms. While they were energetic, the audience had a hard time receiving them because of the loudness of the musical tracks and screaming parts. Lots of their songs were wordy and featured plenty of chord changes and plenty of parts. Most of the songs really got irritating when the choir inverted their harmonies to mind-blowing notes. And with a small group like Holy Nation, it's easier to hear distinctive problems that way. Personally, they had great enthusiasm and compares to the hype that currently surrounds Tye Tribbett & G.A. - even down to their look. But sometimes too much can be too much and this was the case with Thigpen's group. Of the songs they performed, "Wonderful", "Clap Your Hands" and "We've Come To Praise The Lord" were best remembered - songs from their recent project, "Get Up: Vol. 1".

Tyscot recording artist and renowned songwriter VaShawn Mitchell teased the crowd with a few of his songs as well as an old-school throwback to some treasured congregational hymns like "He's A Wonder (In My Soul)" and "Yes, Yes, Yes". He flew through "My Worship Is For Real" and for several minutes, the audience was caught up in musicless intimate worship. He finally closed with "No Way" from his recent project, "Believe In Your Dreams" with Thigpen's Holy Nation providing background vocals.

Around 9:00 p.m., the Anointed Pace Sisters, minus LaShun, was the last act to grace the platform and ultimately wowed the crowd with their clear, clean, cutting-edge vocals. After all of these years, the passion in their ministry had not changed and they revealed just that in their song selection that evening. Strong announced that the Anointed Pace Sisters, also known as T.A.P.S., were releasing their new album that night and were going to tease us with songs from that same project. Songs like the infectious "It's Already Done", the moving ballad "The Words You Said" (penned by Phyllis Pace), and "High Praise" were well received and revealed the possibilities of a very promising album.

Overall, the night had its share of glorious moments and memorable highlights. It was an anniversary to be proud of. And we were happy to be a part of that event. We just hope next time that things will start on time.


Sunday, October 08, 2006

Churchin' With Patti

Mark your calendars. Probably one of the biggest events of the season is here. And it's being headed by R&B's reigning diva Patti Labelle. For years, she has been asked to do a gospel project. Because of her ongoing affirmation to God and having no shame in expressing her love for Jesus Christ on stage and in her private life (strongly revealed in her powerful autobiography, "Don't Block Your Blessings"), Labelle will be preparing to release "The Gospel According To Patti" this fall and will be promoting it with an extensive fourteen city tour promoted by Chrysler and is targeted to take place at several prominent mega-churches. Tour dates will include Dallas, Philadelphia, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., Charlotte, Los Angeles and Detroit.

As for the album's release date, it is not confirmed but it is slated to be released this fall. Some of the dates will feature guest artists from the album which include Mary Mary, Yolanda Adams, Tye Tribbett, J. Moss, CeCe Winans and Wynonna Judd.

Complete Tour Schedule

Saturday, October 7, 2006
Potter's House - Dallas, Texas
Friday, October 13, 2006
St. Agnes Baptist Church - Houston, Texas
Friday, October 27, 2006
West Angeles COGIC - Los Angeles, CA
Friday, November 10, 2006
Deliverance Evangelistic Church - Philadelphia, PA
Friday, November 17, 2006
Christian Cultural Church - Brooklyn, NY
Friday, December 1, 2006
Greater Grace - Detroit, MI
Saturday, December 2, 2006
Jericho City of Praise - Landover, MD
Wednesday, December 6, 2006
New Birth Missionary Baptist Church - Atlanta, GA
Friday, December 8, 2006
Crickett Arena - Charlotte, NC
Sunday, December 10, 2006
Fox Theatre - St. Louis, MO
Saturday, December 16, 2006
Faithful Central Bible Church - Inglewood, CA
Saturday, December 23, 2006
The Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University - Cleveland, OH
Sunday, January 7, 2007
New Jersey Performing Arts Center - Newark, NJ
To pre-order your tickets, call 1-800-549-TIXX.

Friday, September 22, 2006

R&B Goes To Church

Do not change your dial. You are reading correctly.

If you are hearing a few of your favorite R&B artists issuing out new singles on your favorite gospel radio stations, then you are not on the wrong station. As Fall 2006 approaches, several popular R&B and pop artists will be releasing gospel projects and hope to bring to the table their faith and interpretation of gospel music to the world. While it is no surprise to see this kind of influx taking place in gospel (wow, we easily remember Whitney Houston's quick jump to gospel and safe trip back to mainstream), this year proves to deliver one of the most interesting seasons for popular music icons attempting gospel music.

First up to the plate is Dave Hollister. You remember him for singing with Teddy Riley's R&B dream team, BlackSTREET. Eventually, Hollister decided to go solo and delivered some of the coolest R&B records of the nineties including "My Favorite Girl", "Baby Mama Drama" and "One Woman's Man". But his appearance on the unforgettable "Let's Dance" remix, recorded by Hezekiah Walker, along with the popular concept video, opened up speculations that Hollister would eventually record a gospel project. Now GospoCentric Records, along with Zomba Recording Corporation, has announced that on September 26, that dream will become a reality with the release of "The Book of David". Production will be handled by PAJAM, Teddy Riley, Mike City, Shep Crawford and Warryn Campbell.

Another shocking surprise is on the way. The soulful R&B duo, Kenny Lattimore and Chante Moore, will be delivering their debut gospel/inspirational collection, along with another disc filled with new R&B/love songs. The idea of this ever happening was once a rumor, but Verity Records and Babyface's Laface Records has confirmed the release of this project and will surely rattle the gospel industry with imminent force. The first single from the gospel project, "Make Me Like The Moon", was produced by Fred Hammond. The release date of the double-disc "Uncovered/Covered" is slated for October 10, 2006.

Coko, formally one of the lead vocalists for the best-selling R&B group SWV, will also deliver her debut full-length collection this fall on the newly-organized Light Records. And R&B diva Kelly Price, known for her stylish vocals and several keynote appearances on gospel projects, will finally reveal her finished gospel project on the GospoCentric label this fall.

So this fall, don't get too concerned when you hear Dave Hollister, Coko, Kelly Price, Kenny Lattimore and Chante Moore singing on your local radio station...or singing at your local church function...we told you here first.

Kenny Lattimore (Official Website)
Chante' Moore (Official Website)
Kenny Lattimore & Chante' Moore (
Coko (

Monday, September 11, 2006

Where's The Care For The Bear

Ruben Studdard, along with Juanita Bynum and Jonathan Butler, arrived on Birmingham soil together on May 7 for an enriching musical experience to be put on tape and recorded. The event featured selected compositions featuring the GGC Symphony Orchestra and Choir (headed by professor Dr. Henry Panion, III) and was labeled "Gospo Goes Classical". It was not the first time this kind of event was done...a year before that Panion brought the GospoCentric label in with Dorinda Clark-Cole, Byron Cage and Tramaine Hawkins (whom could not make it because of an emergency) using the same platform and idea. But this time around, Studdard along with the other guests were bound to face a live recording - with a release on the praise-and-worship Maranatha! music label. He performed "I Need An Angel" with an amazing symphonic arrangement and also sung a song dedicated to the richness and pride of the state of Alabama.

But rumors surfaced and were later confirmed when ads begin to hit the media announcing Studdard's obvious omission from the project.

"I don't think they could get the stuff together with Maranatha! and J Records. But we recorded it in Birmingham about three months ago." said Studdard when interviewed with BV's Buzz columnist Jawn Murray. But Studdard is far from bitter over the experience. "Ah man, Jonathan Butler hands down is one of the best singer's I've ever heard in my life. And you know Juanita just goes without saying. She's a blessing man, and I enjoyed being with the both of them."

The R&B/inspirational gospel crooner will be releasing October 17 his upcoming "The Return" on J Records. Plenty of people have questioned him about his quietness in the music world but he clearly speaks about his activeness and believes that his upcoming project will end the rumors of any ideas of disappearing from the industry. The album promises to focus on his R&B/soul roots and will feature production from R&B/hip-hop sensation Ne-Yo.

Now, our attention shifts to Maranatha and J Records. What the heck happened? Do we have any care for the Velvet Teddy Bear? Can we all just get alone?

Ruben Studdard

Thursday, August 24, 2006

GMWA Recap

Approxiatemely 15,000 gospel music lovers gathered in the heart of Dallas, Texas for the 2006 session of the Gospel Music Workshop of America (GMWA). The twenty-four hour convention took place at the Hyatt Regency Dallas Hotel, the lavish Adams Mark Hotel and the Dallas Convention Center and presented one of the better years in this decade for the mighty muscle workshop of Gospel music.

Even though I didn't go and participate this year, PRAYZEHYMN still was still on assignment. And has and is still receiving reports from several valuable sources regarding this year's festivities and events.

First off, Workshop opened with the illustrious Come As You Are Musical, which is becoming an attention-getter for independent artists. Especially since the program for this event simply allows artists to perform without registration - just show up and sing. The service lasted a while and was led by GMWA Announcers' Guild chairman Al "The Bishop" Hobbs and Detroit radio personality Evangelist Norma Jean Pender (better known as "Reverend Mother"). The dress code was cool and casual.

Sunday featured the Communion & Consecration Service, starting at 10:30 a.m., and featured a tough nugget of truth from guest speaker Bishop Kenneth Moales (President, National Convention of Gospel Choirs and choruses). Music ministry was provided by Yolanda Adams, the James Cleveland Gospel Chorus, Thruston Frazier Memorial Chorale and the super-huge GMWA Dallas Chapter Mass Choir. The kick-off salute on Sunday to the Gospel Music Workshop was also big and well received by a crowd of 2,500. Hosted by Kirk Franklin, Kim Burrell, Michael A. Davis and Yolanda Adams, the star-studded extravaganza featured a slew of artists, but serious highlights included the reunion of the Caravans, the legendary Walter Hawkins, powerhouse gospel singer Angela Spivey and the Donald Lawrence showcase (featuring singers and extra spotlight on Dewayne Woods & When Singers Meet).

As usual, Mondays is the first day of work. The same applies to this year's lineup at GMWA. Workshops, seminars, choir rehearsals and the Daily Bread services (Dorinda Clark-Cole preached one night and wrecked the house) were all geared up. When night fell on Dallas, the action only escalated. The Nightly Musical Services, featuring dozens of GMWA chapter choirs including the historic Atlanta Masonic Choir, Dallas Chapter, Birmingham Community Mass Choir and the New Orleans Chapter (whom were received with much support and recognition due to the disastrous destruction from Hurricane Katrina), delivered with intensity and with plenty of retro-songs to sing along to. The nightly musicals, which went from Monday to Thursday, also contained a number of well-known artists and label support including Vickie Winans and Kelly Price on Thursday and a sensational line-up on Tuesday featuring EMI Gospel's Smokie Norful and LaShun Pace and a big salute to the Williams Brothers featuring a line-up from the Malaco Music Group, which featured Dottie Peoples and Luther Barnes. The Youth Forum, also taking place at the same time as the Nightly Services, featured a number of highlights - mainly towards the end of the week. Thursday, probably the strongest night, featured music ministry from Byron Cage, Texas' raised James Fortune & FIYA, Myron Butler & Levi and former R&B sensation/now GospoCentric artist Dave Hollister.

Wednesday night. Probably one of the most celebrated occasions on the Workshop's calendar is the "Tribute To The King" showcase and musical. It seems as if all the big time record labels work together for this enormous spectacular. Hosted by Richard Smallwood, Byron Cage, Kirk Franklin, Dottie Peoples, Angela Spivey and longtime friend of the founder and gospel narrator Edna Tatum, the event was lined up with heavy hitters and some neat surprises. To see Judith Christie-McAllister in the room and to perform a tribute Cleveland was something else. Coko also showed up, Men of Standard and Kim Burrell paid tribute and new artists including Zie'l and Amy Rushes were on program. Vanessa Bell Armstrong walked everyone down memory lane, Maurette Brown-Clark teased us with her amazing ministry and local heroes James Fortune & FIYA and the Texas Boyz presented. Malcolm Williams & Great Faith, who were not originally on program, also surprised the gatherers.

Gospel Music Workshop closes out every year with the live recordings on Friday. This year's events were neutral. Surprisingly, the Women of Worship failed to impress with a down-graded representation of singers and songwriters, while the Mass Choir also lacked a good choice of songs. The Mass Choir were presented with songs from V. Michael McKay and Steven Roberts. The Youth Mass Choir, though they were shortened probably because most schools were back in session at the time, surprisingly came through with a 200+ member choir and did well with their songs. The Men of Promise excelled and blew away the competition with over 800 singers and performed material presented by VaShawn Mitchell and Lamar Campbell. Gayle Arbuckle, Isadore Jackson and Wayne Evans also presented songs to the Men's Choir. No one known for sure as of yet what will go on this year's compilation of the live recordings. We are just hoping that the production isn't as big as it was on the Tampa/Sanchez G. Harley project and not as low-budgeted as the Kansas City collection.

GMWA Mass Choir Profile (PH: Power In The Mass)

Friday, August 11, 2006

Malaco's Comeback

Call it a dream come true. In the 1990s, the Malaco Music Group, which also housed the subsidiaries of Savoy and Blackberry, delivered their powerful formula of Southern hospitality, irresistible gospel artists and the right hits to the public. Their efforts immediately positioned the music label to the #1 seat in the gospel music industry.

Since then, mega labels have taken over and have made smaller labels like JDI and Malaco look as if they were not only playing on a different field, but also in a different country. But those rules are changing with the historic music label focusing on redeveloping their image and placing heavy emphasis on their gigantic catalog. Part of their strategy to usher smaller labels to the forefront include their return to the traditions of ol' skool. The recently-announced album release of the long-awaited Caravans' reunion project, "Paved The Way", is well underway and will be dropping in stores on August 22, 2006. The infamous group (minus Shirley Caesar due to other engagements) are joining the list of the legendary groups doing reunion projects and will surely satisfy the sweettooths of America's traditional crowd. Evelyn Turrentine-Agee guests on the classic "No Coward Soldier" while the group jumps on some new tunes including "Holy Ghost Is Movin'" and "Show Some Sign" that are bound to become Caravan classics. They also revisit "Mary Don't You Weep" using the same flavor Aretha Franklin used on her groundbreaking "Amazing Grace" project.

Recently, Malaco released their biggest project to date: Gospel Legends. There's not too many offers that present an exclusive collection of DVDs and CDs featuring a Who's Who in traditional and contemporary gospel music gathered around a piano (Gaither-style) and an army of talented musicians going down memory-lane. Most of the artists assembled, of course, recorded on the Malaco label or still call Malaco home, but the idea is breathtaking and is done with such class. Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy jumps in on the set, while Kirk Franklin revisits his gigantic Savoy hit, "Joy". Then you have guest appearances from songwriter/choir director V. Michael McKay, Luther Barnes, Mosie Burks, Shirley Caesar, Edwin Hawkins, Dr. Bobby Jones, Dottie Peoples, Paul Porter of the Christianaires, the late Charles Fold and the multi-talented Williams Brothers jumping into the cast. Then add a few special interviews from gospel artists delivering their untold stories and revelations on their pilgrimage in gospel music and you have a treasure worth owning. The super project has been seen on television in commercials and have also made its way into record stores. And with three CDs and three DVDs creating the full and complete set, you are bound to be entertained for hours and hours and hours. The complete box of Gospel Legends retail for $60.00. Not bad at all.

This is, indeed, the start of a great comeback for the Malaco Music Group. We just love to hear a good success story.

Malaco Records (Official Website)
Caravans (Official Website)

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

It's Not Just For The Ladies

You ever went to a club and heard the phrase "ladies get in for free"?

Well, that same statement probably could be used for Vickie Winans' upcoming and soon-to-be released two-CD project, "Woman To Woman: Songs of Life" on Verity Records. The album features alot of songs related to women: women issues, several mother's day tributes and much self-empowerment for the ladies, but there's a chunk of features that surely would bless the brothas as well. Sadly, it's not the album title.

"The album isn't only for women," Vickie Winans reveals as she deals with the uncomfortablity men may get from hearing the album title. "It's for women and the men who love them. This CD is for all women and men who have gone through the struggles of life. The songs really reach the soul! So "yes" is the answer to the question from the brothers who want to know if the CD is for them. Men, it’s for you too! Get one for your Mother, Grandma, Wife, Aunt, Sister, Niece, Daughter, or best friend!"

Songs like J.C. White's classic "Stretch Out", "The Rainbow" and "Waiting On Jesus" are sure to fire up the radio and prove to be heavy-hitters for this year, while urban-styled tracks like "Madly In Love" and "Go Go Praise" will electrify the young audiences. So brothas, don't feel too intimated with the album title. Look beyond it and witness the good that lies inside. We just only wished she made a second disc for the we won't feel so bad. The album is produced by a list of big names including Rodney "Darkchild" Jenkins, Mario Winans and Steven Ford. "Woman To Woman: Songs of Life" drops on August 8.

Vickie Winans (Official Website)
Vickie Winans (

Back On The Air

We are sorry about the inconvenience last week regarding

The breakdown of the situation surrounds the financial strain we have been experiencing as of yet. Because of the webmaster's difficulties, there was no funds available to pay for the next month of web hosting - which meant that the site had to be temporarily discontinued. We were planning for to be shut down for approximately a month, but a close friend of the PRAYZEHYMN Fellowship decided to pay for one month. This turned out to be a great blessing - especially since the website reaches over 21,000 per month.

This also mean thats the 9-10-11 Project is even more crucial and important now. Without the contributions of our faithful friends and supporters like you, we could not exist nor could we fund this kind of work or achievement. The deadline to raise $1,100 dollars towards this critical project ends on September 10, 2006. Help us complete this assignment and show the devil that he's a liar.

Hopefully, if it is the Lord's Will, we won't have anymore "power outages" this year. Or in the years to come.

[THE 9-10-11 PROJECT, ETC.]

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Worship Music Is A Fad?

You've heard it here first. But hear it from the First Lady of Praise and Worship, Dr. Judith Christie-McAllister as she deals with the hype around the popularity of modern praise and worship. Many music labels are now forcing their artists to follow in these paths; causing artists to change their style and image overnight. A special interview or (gospelcast) at caught our attention and truly deserves attention. Good questions asked...and great answers delivered. Another reason why we just love this awesome woman of God.

Click on the
link and look for the Judy interview.

The Gospelcast Page

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Spiritual Enemas

OK. It's time to crack a good laff. After some painstaking research, we ran across a funny clip that sho'nuff needs to see the light of day. If you thought the "non-preaching brotha" and the "Holy Crap" clip was hilarious, wait 'til you see Mrs. Benny Hinn preaching under the "anointing". And yes, she pulls out the deep Jackie McCullough/Juanita Bynum/Suzie Owens gestures too. This one will have you running to the floor. Take my word for it.

Lord, I thank you for a sense of humor.

BTW, I know how to spell laugh. Remember, I'm from down-south.

Mrs. Benny Hinn (Reaplayer Video - 100k)
Click here to view

Monday, July 17, 2006

The 9-10-11 Project

needs your help. We are looking for everyone...especially our supporters and help us out by donating to our money drive so that we can reach our 2006 budget. Our deadline is September 10, 2006 and our goal is to reach $1,100 dollars. An outline on this mission project has been outlined on the webpage. We have even set up an exclusive PayPal account so individuals can send their donations online. Whether you decide to give $5, $10, $25, $50, $100 or even more...your support will aid us to accomplishing our longterm goals and help us in preserving gospel music and also to help cover the costs to keep PRAYZEHYMN around. Consider giving today.


Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Well, life is full of possiblities and aspirations, goals and excitements.
Actually, its full of alot of things. But every month at, we are hoping to focus on some very cool activities that makes a PRAYZEHYMN Life. I's so cliche' sounding. But trust me, it will catch on.

PRAYZEHYMN Life is just one of the newest features to be posted on the website and it covers an array of things including books, movies, television, gadgets, fashion, concerts, vacation & travel, food & cuisine and CDs. And since it is updated every month, it's almost like a mini-magazine. A magazine within a magazine. How cool is that?

BTW, you may want to be on the lookout for our soon-to-open PRAYZEHYMN Store. It is an extension of the PRAYZEHYMN Life. The buzz is circulating about the designs and the shirts.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The Big Kiss Good Night

After the airing of the BET Music Awards '06, word leaked out quick. Very quick.

The star-studded extravaganza, hosted by comedian and actor Damon Wayans, featured a superstar list of special guest performances and mesmeric tributes to living legends. Amongst the performers were actor Jamie Foxx, newbie Chris Brown, R&B diva Mary J. Blige and rapper T.I. But this was only the beginning for what the award show had to offered.

Hailed as being "the best award show on cable", the BET Music Awards launched a heavy load of top-notch entertainment on its viewers with several keynote highlights. Prince stormed the stage with two performances: one taking place during the special tribute to the legendary Chaka Khan and the last being a cut from his new album release closing the show. Gospel's dynamic duo, Mary Mary, also blessed the audience with "Yesterday"; which was sung in tribute to those that were ravaged by Hurricane Katrina. The emotional number left many eyes undried. Also, Chaka Khan joined in with an amazing ensemble including Stevie Wonder, Prince, India.Aire and Yolanda Adams on "I'm Every Woman". Interesting indeed. People are still creating a heavy buzz on Adams' musical contributions that night, in which she also sung "Sweet Thing". Her hardcore fan base may be upset over her choice to be a part of the soulful tribute, especially for singing risque' lyrics in "Sweet Thing". Could it be possible that Adams' could venture into mainstream R&B soon?

But all of that was just the topping of the cake. The headlining event focused on Jamie Foxx, in the middle of his call-and-response segment on "DJ Play Me A Song", surprise guest Fantasia joined the stage and delivered a passionate, lock-and-load tongue-kiss. The segment is now being hailed as one of the sweatiest smooches in music show history. We are not sure if Fantasia can recover from such a thing, but we are certain that still-single-and-ready-to-mingle Jamie Foxx can. Do not expect Fantasia to jump on a gospel project anytime soon.

Expect for BET to re-air the show in re-runs during the next couple of months. Definite highlights from the occasions are captured below.


Monday, June 19, 2006

Ruben Wins In Court

According to The Birmingham News, gospel star and American Idol champ Ruben Studdard has been awarded $2 million in litigation against his former manager for misappropriating the singer's funds. Studdard received $500,000 for actual losses and $1,500,000 in punitive damages. The suit alleged that Ronald Edwards, ex-manager and longtime friend of Studdard, took money from the singer's checking and other bank accounts, and used his credit cards to repay debt and for personal purchases.

The former American Idol winner will be releasing his forthcoming project, "The Return of the Velvet Teddy Bear", on J Records later this year.

Ruben Studdard (Official Website)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006


Glad to say that has experienced a nice makeover this month. New songs are in the Music Center, the versatility of the etc. [Prayze Place] page gets a nice "hook-up", and more reviews are being added each week. Plus, feel free to check out our brand-new feature, WHAT'S PLAYING ON YOUR IPOD. This month, we ask former American Idol contestant Anwar Robonson what songs are getting major play on his mp3 player. How cool is that?

Also get your vote on at Gallup to the's on the front page!

Much more features and articles are also on the stay posted.


Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A Good Look at Billy Preston

William Everett Preston (September 9, 1946 – June 6, 2006) was an American soul musician from Houston, Texas, raised mostly in Los Angeles, California. He began playing piano while sitting on his mother's lap at age three. Preston collaborated with some of the greatest names in the music industry, including the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Little Richard, Ray Charles, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Bob Dylan, Sam Cooke, Sammy Davis Jr., Sly Stone, Aretha Franklin, the Jackson 5, Quincy Jones, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. One of only two non-Beatles to receive a credit on a Beatles single, he played the electric piano on "Get Back" during the band's rooftop concert in 1969. He is one of several people sometimes credited as the "Fifth Beatle".

Preston was in and around show business for much of his life. He was taking piano lessons at age 3 and was just 10 when he played keyboards for gospel singer Mahalia Jackson. Two years later he portrayed a young W.C. Handy; played as an adult by Nat "King" Cole — in the 1958 biopic "St. Louis Blues." He toured with mentors and fellow piano greats Ray Charles and Little Richard in the early 1960s, first encountering the Beatles while on the road in Germany.

Cole's daughter, singer Natalie Cole, said she appreciated Preston "and his musical genius over the two decades we crossed personal and professional paths," adding: "He is my favorite keyboardist of all times."

Billy Preston began his career playing in the bands of Little Richard and Ray Charles as a keyboardist, however he was probably best known for his work with the Beatles. He played on their 1970 Let It Be album and on the songs "I Want You (She's So Heavy)" and "Something", from 1969's Abbey Road. Signed to their Apple label, in 1969, Preston released the album That's the Way God Planned It and a single of the same name (produced by George Harrison). His relationship with Harrison continued after the break up of The Beatles; he was the first artist to record My Sweet Lord (the single flopped), and he was on several of George's 70's solo albums. Preston also made notable and energetic contributions to the Concert for Bangladesh, a Harrison-organised charity concert, and, after George's death, the Concert for George. Preston also worked on solo recordings by two other ex-Beatles, John Lennon and Ringo Starr.

After the Beatles, Preston played keyboards for the Rolling Stones, alongside pianist Nicky Hopkins. Preston appears on the Stones' albums Sticky Fingers, Exile on Main Street, Goats Head Soup, It's Only Rock'n Roll and Black and Blue. He toured as a support act with the Stones in 1973, and recorded his live album Live in Europe in Munich with Mick Taylor on guitar. In 1974 composed one of Joe Cocker's biggest hits You Are So Beautiful. In 1975 he became the first musical guest on Saturday Night Live. In 1975 and 1976 he again toured with the Stones, this time getting to play two of his own songs, backed by the Stones, in the middle of every concert. The Stones and Preston parted company in 1977, mainly due to a row over money. He continued to play on solo records by Stones members, and made an appearance again on the Stones' 1997 Bridges to Babylon album.

During the 70s, Preston enjoyed a greal deal of success with a string of popular singles, including "Outta-Space" (a Grammy winner), "Nothing From Nothing" and "Will It Go Round In Circles". He also dueted with Syretta Wright on the classic love ballad, "With You I'm Born Again" in 1980.

The 1980s were lean years for Preston. He was arrested and convicted for insurance fraud after setting fire to his own house in Los Angeles, and he was treated for alcohol and cocaine addictions. In 1991, he entered no-contest pleas to the cocaine and assault charges. He was sentenced to nine months at a drug rehabilitation center and three months of house arrest.

Preston managed to conquer his problems in the early 1990s, and toured with Eric Clapton, and recorded with a wide range of artists.

Preston participated in the tribute concert "Concert for George Harrison" at Royal Albert Hall and his performance of My Sweet Lord has received critical acclaim. He also recorded on the last album of Ray Charles. He toured with The Funk Brothers and Stevie Winwood in Europe in early 2004 and then with his friend Eric Clapton in Europe and North America. It has been claimed that his big contribution to the Beatles' sound was made clear with the release of the Let it be naked album.

Preston played clavinet on the song "Warlocks" for the Red Hot Chili Peppers album Stadium Arcadium released in 2006. Although very ill, he jumped out of bed after hearing a tape of the song given to him by the band, recorded his part, and went back to bed. Preston's final contribution was playing Gospel-tinged organ on the Neil Diamond album, 12 Songs. He also recorded a gospel project, "Music From my Heart", on MCG Records and also guest appeared on John P. Kee's VIP Music and Artis Seminar Mass Choir video presentation of "Stand!"; which revealed him working a storm on the Hammond organ.

Gospel musician Andrae Crouch, whose friendship and musical collaboration with Preston spanned four decades, said he had a knack for knowing how to play a song.

"If I played a new idea, he would know where to put it and in what category," said Crouch, who has performed with Quincy Jones and Elton John. "He was the best keyboard player in the world ... It was like having a harmonica in his mouth. He had that much control over it."

He is survived by two sisters. Rodena Preston-Williams, one of his sisters, is the Mass Choir Music Director and Chapter Representatives of the Gospel Music Workshop of America.

Billy Preston (Official Site)
Billy Preston (
Singer-songwriter Billy Preston dies at 59 (Yahoo/AP)

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Confessions On The Dance Floor

Just when you thought that gospel music was safe. Recently in Detroit, the latest news break seems to prove that even those led to do ministry aren't always the ones to totally trust. Ryan Baker is well known in Detroit church circles for his ministry of hip-hop dance and choreography and is known in gospel circles for performing on stage with gospel sensation Dorinda Clark-Cole. He can be seen dancing on her DVD presentation "Dorinda Clark-Cole Live" (GospoCentric) and has delivered presentations at conferences, concerts and with other big names in gospel music. The announcement of Baker being a confessed and convicted sexual pedophile sends an alarming message to the public and to the religious communities - about a disturbing pattern of poor self-control and unforgivable patterns of carnal hunger that tends to be a major hypocrisy to those whom passionate about their walk with God.

The announcement began to emerge to the surface when one woman, who didn't want to be identified, came to the public to confess her story regarding her involvement with the popular dancer. She knows Brother Baker and initially thought highly of him and his work. "It's like an anointing he has to touch people through his dance ministry, especially the kids because that's the kind of dance he does," she said.

The woman said she knows the dark and disturbing secret Brother Baker himself surely never mentions in church or anywhere else his interest in young boys like her 14-year-old son. "He made him take his clothes off and he fondled him," she said.

Baker admitted it almost immediately and repeated the confession in front of his parents and others from the church shortly thereafter. The woman said she went to the police a couple of days later, though she claims the church folks pressured her not to, to let them handle it.

According to the website, after their two-part exclusive on the breaking news, he was given supervision by a probation officer and was ordered not to perform in the company with minors. After Steve Wilson of WXYZ News (of Detroit) entered an investigation on him, he learned that he completely did the opposite. He performed at the Soul Train Music Awards. While on probabtion, which was in the company with other minors and after he was told not to leave the state of Michigan. and he continued to perform at local churches in the city of Detroit. Video tapes of him recently performing at those churches were even displayed in front of a perplexed Baker according to the news station, after Wilson of WXYZ confronted him in person. Since that incident, Baker has run across a dead end and was on his way to jail after he was caught for a second time violating his probation after he confessed to molesting a woman's 14-year old son.

That woman said, "He said when the Vaseline hit the bed, he realized what was going on and locked himself in the closet. He made him take his clothes off and he fondled him and he was in the process of penetrating him, but it didn't get to that point."

Baker's fine is pretty confusing to some, especially when you look at the severity of the issue. He got no jail time for the sexual assaults, but will do thirty days in jail for the violation of his probation and could possibly do two years in the pokey.

Pastor J. Drew Sheard of Greater Emmanuel Institutional Church of God In Christ (whom is married to gospel legend Karen Clark-Sheard - the sister of Dorinda Clark-Cole) spoke about the situation and was not aware of Baker's problems. He has also stated that Baker has not performed or ministered at his church since the news break.

Looks like Dorinda is going to need a new background dancer. But we prefer she sing without dancers. They just get in the way.