For centuries many Christians have exchanged gifts during the Christmas holiday season in honor of the birth of Jesus Christ.
If you still haven’t picked up your gifts, don’t panic. For one thing, it is important to remember that Jesus is “the reason for the season” and his love and salvation are what matter most, not present.
But there is also a simple and cost effective option for those of us who are last-minute shoppers: Awesome praise and worship music that will help loved ones and friends take a mental vacation from the stresses of life.
2009 was a great year for gospel music and witnessed groundbreaking material by new artists, more favorites from established artists and comeback albums from those we haven’t heard from in a while.
So, support your local Christian book/music store today, and check out some of these titles:
Kim Burrell – “No Ways Tired” – OK, true fans of gospel music know what to expect from Sister Burrell, and she does not disappoint. “No Ways Tired” is the perfect musical prescription for those of us who are tired. The 12-track album keeps listeners in touch with many of the hymns that have sustained generations of churchgoers through tough times, and Burrell’s powerful voice is still a treat to hear.
Israel Houghton – “The Power of One” – After years of struggle against racial and gender discrimination in all areas of society, it is finally cool to be diverse. And an amazing amount of diversity is what Houghton offers us on his latest Grammy nominated project. It embraces a variety of styles, from R&B and rock, to classical and reggae. Anyone who has seen Houghton and his band live understand how powerful his music can be, and that energy is captured on songs such as “Every Prayer” and “Just Wanna’ Say.”
Tyka Nelson – “A Brand New Me” – This is the third album and first gospel offering by Tyka Nelson, the sister of Prince Rogers Nelson, better known as the music icon Prince. Tyka Nelson, who is active in the Pentecostal church, has been performing with her gospel band, The Word.
Melinda Watts – “People Get Ready” Many people became familiar with Watts when she competed on the Gospel Music Channel’s Gospel Dream show. With its first-rate production and radio friendly selections, “People Get Ready” proves that Watts’ success on the program was not a fluke. Her bright, clear voice and enthusiastic presence on a success of celebratory songs can uplift anyone dealing with the winter blues.
The Whispers – “Thankful” – Finally, an album that combines the sound of classic R&B with inspiring, Christ-centered lyrics. One of the most anticipated releases of the year, “Thankful” captures the Whispers sounding better than ever. The up-tempo “Praise His Holy Name” has the energy of songs like “And the Beat Goes On.” Tight harmonies, a smooth beat and a comforting message straight from the Bible make the album single “For Thou Art With Me” simply captivating.
Brian Courtney Wilson – “Just Love” – Wilson recently gave up his job in the pharmaceutical industry to pursue music ministry full time. In this tough economy, one could say such a move was predicated on absolute faith, or insanity, depending on your perspective. However, the decision appears to be a wise one, as Wilson’s first single, the reassuring “Already Here,” is set to replace Marvin’ Sapp’s “Never Would Have Made It” as the most rotated song on gospel radio stations. The rest of “Just Love” contains tracks that artfully articulate messages of praise, thanks and petition to the Lord.
BeBe & CeCe Winans – “Still” – Gospel music’s most famous brother and sister team have demonstrated the proper way to make a comeback: You simply pick up right where you left off. That is exactly what “Still,” the duo’s first album since the mid 90s, does. The single “Close To You” was a major success on both gospel and R&B radio, and the two vocalists are still in fine form on songs that are pleasing to both longtime fans and those who are just discovering them.