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Journey: Live In New York

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Album Review

Recorded in 2005 at various venues including the Hammerstein Ballroom in N.Y.C., this vibrant, spiritually uplifting two-disc set celebrates the renowned multiple Grammy and Stellar Award-winning performer's quarter century as a recording artist. Between the concerts and the album's release, Richard Smallwood cemented his place in his genre's history with his induction into the Gospel Music Hall of Fame. One would think with that kind of background — he's the forerunner to later singer/producer/big-show ringleaders like Kirk Franklin — listeners wouldn't have to be subjected right off the bat to the somewhat self-indulgent spoken biography that introduces disc one. Fortunately, Smallwood and his numerous all-star guests let their faith and exciting vocals and rhythms speak for themselves after that. Smallwood offers his own testimony in song on "I Won't Give Up" and then the parade of legends and future legends begins, led by Kim Burrell's rousing "Journey" and Smallwood's stirring anthem "I'll Trust You" backed by Vision, his 21-voice choir since the mid-'90s. The powerhouse soul vocals of Burrell, R&B star Kelly Price (on the searing ballad "Morning's Breaking"), and the famed Chaka Khan (the pop-jazzy breezes of "Precious Is Your Name") are balanced by the intense operatic magic of Janice Chandler-Eteme's lead voice on "We Worship You." The powerful vocal soloing is complemented by one of the concert's best tracks, the lively toe-tapping "We've Come Too Far," sung in perfect harmony by the renowned Hawkins Family. The set closes with the collection's lone studio track, "I'd Rather Have Jesus," rendered tenderly by Smallwood sitting alone at the acoustic piano. The story goes that this was the only song he ever heard his mother — the rock and foundation of her son's life — play on the piano. As the concert well illustrates, praise songs are as fun and funky as music gets. But sometimes, as Smallwood shows on this last track, a simple note of gratitude to God communicates volumes.

Customer Reviews

Journey Richard Smallwood

Journey selections continues to be a Blessing. Excellent!!

Biography

Born: November 30, 1948 in Atlanta, GA

Genre: Christian & Gospel

Years Active: '70s, '80s, '90s, '00s, '10s

A tenured, talented, and respected inspirational pianist, singer, songwriter, and producer in the gospel music business since the '70s, Richard Smallwood was born in Atlanta, Georgia on November 30, 1948. After graduating from Howard University (his classmates included Donny Hathaway, Debbie Allen, and Phylicia Rashad), where he earned degrees in vocal performance and piano, Smallwood taught music at the University of Maryland and eventually formed the Richard Smallwood Singers, putting out an eponymous...
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Journey: Live In New York, Richard Smallwood
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