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Gifted: Season One

  • reviewed by Andree Farias Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2007 1 Feb
Gifted: Season One
Sounds like … the American Idol compilations that see the light of day shortly after each season ends, except featuring finalists who favor CCM and praise standards.At a glance … underwhelming performances and sub-par arrangements cast doubt on how "gifted" these reality hopefuls really are.Track Listing You Are My King (Amazing Love)—Gifted Finalists
I Will Find a Way—Da'Quela Payne
Blessed Be Your Name—Damien Lawson
How Great Is Our God—Lindsey Labadie
In the Light—Nathan Wise
Strong Enough—Rochelle Saunders
Here I Am to Worship—Da'Quela Payne
His Strength Is Perfect—Trisha Miyahara
Take You Back—Brandon Kizer
Forever—Sheena Evans

Not to be confused with the Gospel Music Channel's Gospel Dream competition, Gifted is the second CCM-based talent search fashioned after pop-culture phenomenon American Idol. The program was hosted by Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell and masterminded by Johnny Wright (manager for Littrell, as well as N'SYNC and Britney Spears). Despite its marquee value, the show wasn't a hit, though it did spawn one winner, seven additional finalists, and this CD/DVD compilation, Gifted: Season One.

Like most Christian alternatives to other ventures and products in the mainstream, Gifted is noble in its safe-for-the-whole-family intent: to provide a "talent show where the only goal of the contestants (and the judges) is to glorify God!" Here the roles of Simon, Paula, and Randy are filled by CCM veterans Michael Sweet (Stryper), Eddie DeGarmo (DeGarmo & Key), and gospel legend Andraé Crouch. Together they crowned Da'Quela Payne as the first-season victor, and her pop anthem "I Will Find a Way" is as pretty as pop anthems can get—a rousing, faith-affirming AC pop hit-in-the-making. But for all of its prettiness, the song also happens to be the only original on the album, and is ultimately characterless.

Most of Gifted: Season One is like that: a young, eager, and pretty-voiced contestant paired up with a song that's already been over-covered and overplayed to begin with. Sure, these are familiar hits (many of them modern worship standards), and that's to be expected. But great singers merit great songs, or at least distinctive arrangements and memorable performances. What we don't need is an album of glorified karaoke, offering washed-up renditions that hide any personality the singers may have.

There's an exception or two, such as an urban-pop version of "Blessed Be Your Name." But on the whole, very little of Gifted: Season One can compete with the charisma and talent exhibited on American Idol, a show that's at its best when the finalists take chances with their vocals and arrangements.

© Andree Farias, subject to licensing agreement with Christianity Today International. All rights reserved. Click for reprint information.