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Idol Chatter

The other day I discovered the best pick-me-up-to-beat-the-work-week-blues ever. The news that put a smile on my face was that Christian rocker Ashley Cleveland has finally announced the official release date of her new album “God Don’t Never Change.” While the release date is actually May 24, like all marketing-savvy artists, Cleveland has downloads of her new songs already available online for those of us who can’t wait a second longer to hear her latest effort. And while it is true that I am unabashedly a devotee of her long and underappreciated–by the Christian industry, anyway–recording career, somehow I was still unprepared for how knocked out I was by some of her new songs.Cleveland has always been able to deftly mix gospel, blues, and rock in the ways that great artists like Aretha Franklin and Elvis Presley did, but “God Don’t Never Change” puts its focus distinctly on the great heritage and wealth of music found in African-American gospel. She infuses spirituals that have been preciously covered by blues greats like Blind Willie Johnson and Reverend Gary Davis (“Keep Your Lamps Trimmed and Burning,” “God Don’t Never Change”) with her own passion and longings. But the highlight of this recording has to be when Cleveland tears it up musically and vocally on the hymns “God Called Me This Morning” and “Going to Meet the King” in a way that is simply incomparable to any other contemporary music artist, Christian or otherwise.Equally exciting news for Cleveland fans is that she has a Youtube channel that has several great videos of performances of some of her older work. So if I haven’t convinced you yet of Cleveland’s prowess, take a few minutes to click on the video below. It’s her cover of the Rolling Stones hit “Gimme Shelter” and demonstrates why she has won two Grammys and should be in the running for a third.

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