Sing For Me
- reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
- 2001 1 Jan
You may not recognize her name, but Desiree Coleman-Jackson is quite a respected artist. She's married to NBA basketball player Mark Jackson and has performed at many NBA events throughout the country. "Dez" is also an accomplished Broadway performer, with a Drama Desk nomination for her performance in Bob Fosse's "Big Deal." She also had a starring role in "Mama I Want To Sing," the longest running off-Broadway show in history. Dez is no stranger to the recording studio either—she was a Motown recording artist and has opened for Patti LaBelle. Top that off with an incredible five-octave singing range, and it's clear Dez is a talented vocalist. With the help of several respected producers (including acclaimed producer and songwriter Wyclef Jean of the Fugees), Sing For Me does a great job of showcasing Dez's talent and sincere desire to share her Christian faith.
You read that right—Dez has a five-octave singing range. This means she can hit some rather low notes as well as some high note squeals ("head voice"), for which Mariah Carey is famous. Listen in for those high notes on "A Miracle" and at the end of "I'm Calling You." Dez also shows a remarkable amount of control in her singing, transitioning from a gentle hush to full volume vocalizing on "Sing For Me," a power ballad in the same vein as Whitney Houston and CeCe Winans. Musically, Dez is capable of far more than your basic vocal pop. She treads into traditional gospel territory, as heard in the song "Thank You Lord," and spends much of the album in the modern R&B genre. The album's lead track, "Give Him Your Life," may be the closest thing to Jennifer Lopez's sound I've heard yet.
All of Dez's songs are faith-based, as outspoken as anything you'll hear in urban gospel music. What sets her apart from other would-be Christian R&B "vocal divas" is her incredible voice and the surprisingly professional production. Considering most R&B artists sing to pre-programmed tracks created on a computer, it's amazing that more Christian artists don't measure up to their mainstream counterparts in sound quality. That should prove the importance of the producer to R&B music in particular, and Dez employs seven different producers to handle her variety of sounds. Wyclef Jean is certainly the most well-known, but Sing For Me also features David Frazier (who's produced Yolanda Adams) and Joe "Flip" Wilson (known for producing Natalie Wilson and SOP). Though there are moments when the production isn't up to mainstream standards, for the most part the superior quality keeps this project from being just another forgettable pop/R&B album featuring a pretty voice.
There's a LOT of music on this album (16 tracks and 65 minutes, in fact), and this deserves both praise and criticism. You clearly get your money's worth if you're totally captivated by Dez's music, but most people will likely lose interest here and there. It's tough for any artist to make a consistent album at that length, and with so many songs there are bound to be a few tracks that don't measure up to the others. To her credit, Dez displays a lot of musical diversity in all that music, ranging from R&B to pop to gospel. Some are going to feel that her album is a little too inconsistent overall, but I suspect most will complain that it's simply too much of the same—it all depends how much into urban gospel and R&B you are. Still, though Dez may not have trimmed the album down to a more manageable length, she wisely shows enough musical diversity to keep the album from being boring or repetitive. All that said, this album is going to impress fans of R&B/pop who are looking for a Christian viewpoint without sacrificing musical quality.