In Spite of Me
(Digital Release: April 13, 2010)
On the opening track of her sophomore album, In Spite of Me, Michelle Bonilla declares to the heavens, “This is your show.” If life is a show, Bonilla is a superb MC.
Blend Damita Haddon with Selena and you have Michelle Bonilla, an urban contemporary gospel artist who oozes with talent. In Spite of Me drenches songs about living a meaningful, Christian life in explosive techno and thumping beats. Bonilla’s vocals range from coolly confident (“Your Show”) to self-consciously vulnerable (“I Am”). Lee Jerkins, Bonilla's husband and sought-after producer, handled production duties for the album.
“I Love You” is the album’s current urban contemporary single, and “You Don’t Have to Cry,” a single originally released in 2008, could easily become a CCM hit. The CD is one well-produced performance after another, demonstrating that Bonilla is an artist worth following.
Bonilla, whose mother and father are Dominican and Puerto Rican respectively, pays tribute to her heritage by singing one song in Spanish: the breathtaking ballad “Eres el Rey” (You are the King). She hopes to record a Spanish-language album one day.
An especially interesting selection is “My Generation.” It serves both as anthem for “Generation Now” and answer to the critics of today’s youth. Bonilla told TBGB in a recent interview, “We are told that we have potential but we’re not tapping into it, that we are not listening to our elders. But elders aren’t elders anymore. Grandma is 35 years old. Who is passing wisdom down to us? Is it that we don’t have potential or is it that do we not have the wisdom?”
One thing’s for sure: Bonilla has potential to spare. In Spite of Me demonstrates how easily she could become a serious pop contender. That she has chosen the music of faith and inspiration is a credit to her and a benefit to everyone.
Five of Five Stars
gPod Picks: “I Love You,” “You,” “You Don’t Have to Cry.”
Reviewed by Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog.