Bless This House
Verity Gospel Music Group (available January 22, 2013)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog
It is a great sign when the year begins with such a strong release as Bless This House. The two-CD live performance by Kurt Carr & the Kurt Carr Singers is not only destined to become one of the year’s best projects, but is likely to become a gospel music classic, an essential.
Bless This House is the first Kurt Carr project in four years and marks his music ministry’s Silver Anniversary. The project is worth the wait. It blends P&W with traditional gospel in a way that is familiar and yet refreshingly original. From the opening seconds, the Kurt Carr Singers sound like a senior choir trained by the late O’Landa Draper, dramatic and sonorous, though they demonstrate a palette of hues during the two hours of music.
The songs and soloists sell this album, and Maestro Carr seems to have captured the market on powerful vocalists. Artists such as Nakitta Foxx, Michelle Prather, Nikki Potts, Jerard Woods, Dr. Judith McAllister, Vonnie Lopez (her work on “I’ve Got So Much” tears up the audience), Chrystal Rucker, and Lorraine Stancil-Lawson are present. Carr even pulls gospel dynamo Kathy Taylor out of the audience to sing on “Between Here and There.” “Touched by the Fountain of Grace” features Troy Bright, whose vocals demonstrate gospel and classical training.
The live program almost fast forwards into Doxology after the group performs the misty-eyed “I’ve Seen Him Do It,” a song of encouragement borne of testimony. “It’s a Good Day” is Carr’s take on the “I Smile” mindset, that any day above ground is a good day. Reminded me of the joke about the saddest blues in the world, which starts with “Didn’t wake up this morning…”
Traditional songs are given all of the bluesy trills and flowers and the P&W songs are energetic and many also provide hope and encouragement, such as the title track, which is not the Mahalia chestnut but a new composition. There are Baptist shouts, Sanctified beats, and the program even takes a praise break, which was stirring for about two songs until it finally broke through. Towards the end, Carr dedicates a funky version of “Amen” to his godmother, the late Albertina Walker.
Bless This House would be a fine project if it ended with the first CD, but the fact that the group had more to give is extraordinary. If this project does not garner a Grammy nomination next year, I’ll eat my hat.
Five of Five Stars
Picks: “Bless This House,” “I’ve Seen Him Do It,” “It’s A Good Day.”