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Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews

Praise at Your Own Risk

  • reviewed by Russ Breimeier Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2001 1 Jan
Praise at Your Own Risk

Michael Speaks has come a long way from singing in the New York City subway system, where he was discovered by a record label executive in 1995. A year later, Michael released his mainstream R&B debut, No Equal, to much critical and popular acclaim. But shortly after his newly found success, opening for artists like Babyface and Keith Sweat, Michael wanted to return to his gospel roots, forcing him to seek a contract release from his label. After five years, he's finally able to release an album through Epic Records that expresses his spiritual side. The result is Praise at Your Own Risk.

Michael's voice is strong and shows remarkable range (reportedly seven octaves). And the production quality is solid, not some weak R&B imitation, thanks to the production skills of Warren Campbell (Yolanda Adams, Mary Mary, Dru Hill). At times, Michael taps into a very traditional gospel sound, at other times he's absorbed into a very modern urban groove. I haven't decided if this is a demonstration of his eclecticism or a lack of focus. Nevertheless, there's a lot of energy in Praise at Your Own Risk, and it's a remarkable testimony of a man who almost threw it all away to make music that glorifies God. If you like BeBe Winans, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary, and God's Property, you'll probably get a (spiritual) kick out of Michael Speaks.