Thursday, May 24, 2007

Melinda and BeBe and Cece Together

Just when you thought American Idol was finished with all of the big surprises on their 2-hour Season 6 finale' spectacular, out comes one of our most anticipated reunions in all of Gospel music history. BeBe & CeCe Winans reunited after thirteen years of departing to pursue solo careers. Melinda Doolittle, a former background singer for CeCe and one of AI's hopeful finalists, rocked the stage with BeBe & CeCe Winans during a live performance of Percy Bady's "Hold Up The Light" from the platinum-selling "Heaven". What is so amazing is that the original song featured Whitney Houston dueting with the two...but Doolittle decided to jump into the race to prove that she can handle Houston's over-the-top soaring vocal power. Just a week before the finale', Randy Jackson choose as his song choice for Doolittle a Whitney Houston ballad ("I Believe In You And Me") - stating that he felt she needed to "stretch and challenge herself". The song may have been what cost her the big victory to the finale' since the song seemed to be too colossal for her voice. But Doolittle bounced back with phenomenal performance on gospel power anthem, "Hold Up The Light".

On to bigger news, BeBe & CeCe Winans have announced that there appearance on AI was far from being accidental. The two are reuniting and are working on an upcoming project and tour. Street date has not been released, but they are currently in the studio working on the project. BeBe exclaimed, “I’m so grateful for BeBe & CeCe’s past accomplishments. But I’m so excited about coming back together and blazing new trails of hope into the hearts of people all around the world.” CeCe added, “I’m very excited that the time has finally come for BeBe and I to reunite and encourage the world with uplifting, soul-changing music.”

As for the talented Melinda Doolittle, she will join the top finalists on the American Idol Tour this summer. Tickets are on currently on sale now. For more details, visit the
American Idol Official website.

The sixth season finale' was watched by over 29.5 million viewers; a sharp drop from last year's 36.4 watchers. It is possible that the billing of Jordin Sparks and Blake Lewis was not what viewers intended. AI judge Simon Cowell mentioned that he would have liked to see two great voices battle it out in the end - preferably Melinda Doolittle and Jordin Sparks.

American Idol (Official Website)
Ratings down 19 percent, Jordin wins (

Monday, May 21, 2007

City Stages Catches Gospel Bug

Since our little and insignificant expose' (or online letter of personal sympathy and expression) on City Stages was posted on the PRAYZE Report awhile back, we felt it would be refreshing to play "catch up" with a follow-up regarding the local music festival's current stand on improving their relations towards gospel music. We have constantly been reminded by public officials since the festival was started that they were committed to being a world-class music festival and yearn to expose as many music styles and genres as possible. Gospel music has been represented, as we cited before, at the Birmingham-based festival in previous years, but we felt that the three-day event has failed to give it the proper accolades and treatment that the mainline stages and genres receive. There has been very little press in the past on the gospel groups they have been featured and usually only one headliner closes the event. Yes, it's sad to say that in the past years, City Stages (another reminder - it's a three-day festival) could only afford one well-known gospel act (and the rest being local church choirs) for its own gospel stage.

Well, it looks like the officials and staff of City Stages have heard our faintest cry and have done some kind of revamping to fix this problem. It's not much...but it's enough considering that now the music festival is trying to bounce back from a serious financial crisis and a few bad attendance turnouts from previous years. City Stages 2007 will be featuring gospel music on the premiere stage of the festival, the well-known Coca-Cola Stage, on Sunday (one day only). While the other stages will be bouncin' and banging their heads to the music of Three Days Grace and Breaking Benjamin, gospel music will be headlining the big stage from beginning to end. Artists planning to hit the stage include WellSprings Gospel recording artist Vickie Yohe, urban hip-hop/southern R&B sensation Canton Jones, the Birmingham Mass Community Choir and Kurt Carr & the Kurt Carr Singers (coming back once again - he appeared on the stage last year - all thanks to Pastor Stephen Green of More Than Conquerors Faith Church). Expect a repeat performance from Carr once again.

Okay. Maybe City Stages hasn't gotten the gospel idea down to a science. There's a whole lotta' things they need to familiarize themselves with in order to provide the justice the gospel genre deserves. Here's a few pointers:

1. Repeat headliners are a "no-no" in the booking world. Never book the same artist two or three years in a row for a less popular genre. The public and fans of that genre will forever remember that...and will feel like "favoritism" is the operative term for that kind of decision. We do want to see someone different from time to time.

2. The Coca-Cola Stage is an outdoor if you are going to attract church folk to an outdoor event while other are getting loaded with booze and smoking their lungs away, you better have talent and big names to draw them out there. Second-rate artists can be good...but you got to bring the heat when it comes to gospel. Otherwise, the crowd will tell you if it's a success or not.

3. Diversity can make you or break you. In this instance, it may break you. You got on one same day, three different kinds of gospel music represented. Local choir gospel first, then Praise-and-worship slow material next with Yohe, then comes the big hip-hop breakdown from Canton Jones and then contemporary gospel from Kurt Carr last. Expect to see different groups of people come and go with this kind of line-up. They are all good artists...that's not the problem. The problem is that there's a big difference in styles from all of the artists that instead of seeing a build-up of the audience, you're going to see one group leave and another group come. Start with the openers first and build up on bigger, well-known and established artists as the program continues.

4. If it rains or even drizzles a little, expect the saints to become "aint's". LOL

5. Do some homework on the bigger gospel festivals that take place across the country. It won't hurt. Best place to start might be the annual Chicago Gospel Festival.

City Stages 2007 (Official Website)
Dear City Stages

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Down But Not Out

We are sorry to inform you that we are having techinical issues on this side of town. PRAYZEHYMN updates are still on the way, but we are having computer problems at the time. Hopefully we will be back in business on Friday (May 11, 2007) and will post new updates, blog entries and reviews on and the PRAYZE Report. Thank you for your patience and your prayers.

Maurette Brown-Clark
Various Artists - The Lord's Prayer
Bishop T.D. Jakes & the Potter's House Mass Choir
J. Moss
Tony Moore & Jehovah's Chosen
Bishop Noel Jones Presents the City of Refuge Sanctuary Choir
and others
Music Center Update

J. Matthew Cobb