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Ron Winans Family and Friends 5: A Celebration

  • reviewed by LaTonya Taylor Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2005 1 Jan
Ron Winans Family and Friends 5: A Celebration
Sounds like … very similar to Winans' earlier Family and Friends albums, with a slightly more contemporary touch than before.At a glance … Family and Friends 5 brings together much of the best in traditional/contemporary choir music.Track Listing The Lord Has Been GoodMy Father's HouseSurely I DoStanding HereMy HelpSalvation Is FreeI Made a PromisePromise ShoutSigns of the TimesSafe from HarmI Shall Not Die but LiveWalking in My SeasonHoly Is the LambHe Never Fails

I first saw the Winans in concert in Denver more than 15 years ago. Maybe it was because of a heavy touring schedule, or perhaps it was because of the high altitude, but three of the four famous brothers seemed to drag just a little that night. But not Ron Winans. During their whole performance, and especially during his signature song "Uphold Me," he was full of energy. Ron's voice was just a tad stronger, his choreography a bit smoother. Around that time, he began recording his signature Family and Friends Choir albums, which combined his family's distinctive voices with forceful, energetic traditional choir music and a slammin' band.

Family and Friends 5: A Celebration is the first of these albums recorded since Winans' near-fatal heart attack in 1997. Listening to it will make you grateful that he was spared. This is clean, traditional-contemporary gospel featuring some great voices—the kind that a family of gospel lovers with divergent tastes can enjoy together.

Highlights include a jazz-inflected arrangement of "Salvation Is Free," in which the peerless Vanessa Bell Armstrong does Mahalia Jackson proud (and Antun Foster on the organ is simply out of control); and Marvin Winans' well-balanced duet with Gladys Knight in "Surely I Do." Ron's unrushed intro, CeCe's powerful chorus, and dramatic backing make "My Help" a strong offering, and BeBe adds his compelling track "Safe from Harm," which also appears on his forthcoming album. Other potential favorites include the sweetly choral "Holy Is the Lamb," Ron's testimonial "I Shall Not Die but Live," and the brisk "Walking in My Season" and "Standing Here."

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