Idol Chatter

free_idol.jpgThe music industry is full of egocentric artists, so it is rare that those artists will voluntarily give their backup singers an opportunity to shine in the spotlight. But thank God for gospel music and worship leader Israel Houghton, who has put his backup group of dynamic singers and musicians–known as New Breed–in the spotlight with the release of “Freedom: Sounds of the New Breed.”
“Freedom” is the first in a series of discs that will showcase the members of New Breed reworking Houghton’s praise and worship classics. Initially, I thought this was a risky endeavor because I couldn’t imagine that a group of seven could handle the task of recreating Houghton’s songs, which, by definition, require a mass of strong authoritative voices. Sadly, I was right on one account–the “Freedom” rendition of “Again I Say Rejoice” fell flat due to the lack of people and energy. This is a problem because the message of the song overrides its lack of Grammy award-winning sound.
Fortunately I realized that real ministry was going forth despite what I thought–and heard–regarding “Again I say Rejoice.” The rest of the 10-track disc reveals the true strength of the “Freedom: Sounds of the New Breed,” with slickly reproduced worship songs such as the island-inspired “Arise,” “I Am Free,” which is reminiscent of Houghton’s hit “Not Forgotten,” and “Alpha and Omega”–a Houghton classic–which retained its ability to send chills up my spine and produce tears in my eyes within the first few bars.
“Freedom: Sounds of the New Breed” is full of worship songs that are as broad in sound and scope as New Breed is diverse in its membership–they are truly a multicultural melting pot. It really encourages people of all cultures to worship together “in spirit and in truth.” There’s no doubt in my mind that if you love Israel Houghton & New Breed, you are bound to love the “Freedom: Sounds of the New Breed” album.

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