Gospel Duets with Treasured Friends
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2007 1 Apr
- This Old House (with Dolly Parton)
- Have a Little Talk with Jesus (with George Jones)
- In the Garden (with Alison Krauss)
- I See the Light (with Vince Gill)
- Jesus Loves Me (with Emmylou Harris)
- Precious Memories (with Pam Tillis)
- Swing Low, Sweet Chariot (with Kix Brooks)
- This Little Light of Mine (with Charlie Daniels)
- Unclouded Day (with Martina McBride)
- Where Could I Go but to the Lord (with Ronnie Dunn)
- Oh! Happy Day (with Huey Lewis)
Brenda Lee is in a class of legendary recording artists all her own. Having started her career as a child in the '50s, she performed at the Grand Ole Opry with Elvis when she was only 12, and The Beatles opened for her before she was 20. She would go on to sell more than 100 million albums with major hits like "I'm Sorry," "All Alone Am I," and her rendition of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." She's also the first female artist to be inducted into both the Rock & Roll and Country Music Halls of Fame. Superstars ranging from Dolly Parton and Barbara Mandrell to Cyndi Lauper and Madonna have all claimed her as an influence.
She also happens to be a Christian, and is only now getting around to her first gospel project, like many country artists these days. As with projects from other legends (Ray Charles, Jerry Lee Lewis), she's teamed up with artists she's forged friendships and influenced to record Gospel Duets with Treasured Friends. The title says it all—a vocal "family reunion" reminiscent of those old TV specials with special guests.
Lee is still in fine voice considering she's in her early 60s—a little vibrato is to be expected. Her duet with Martina McBride ("Unclouded Day") is inspired, and the sprightly gospel rock of "This Little Light of Mine" with Charlie Daniels shows she remains Little Miss Dynamite. A delightfully soulful pop rendition of "Oh! Happy Day" (with a terrific sounding Huey Lewis) also brings inspiration to the project.
Otherwise, it's all a bit too predictable, with unimaginative country-pop arrangements of gospel standards. It probably took more time to coordinate schedules with the guest vocalists than it did to record such a brief 32-minute album. Oh it's a fun and charming expression of Lee's faith for sure, but relying primarily on nostalgia and celebrity value, Gospel Duets lacks the substance and effort that would have made it an event to remember.