Artist: Melinda Watts
Title: People Get Ready
Label: Razor & Tie
Rising urban singer/songwriter lives out her gospel dream …
Deciding dreams were not only for others to pursue, Melinda Watts, a former schoolteacher, auditioned for Gospel Dream, the Gospel Music Channel's reality vocal competition a la American Idol.
She eventually won the 2008 title and set the stage for her national music debut seemingly overnight. Soulfully combining the vocal range and agility of Yolanda Adams, the fiery energy of Mary Mary and the pastoral growl of Gospel's First Lady, Shirley Caesar, People Get Ready proves this newcomer ain't no amateur.
Two high-octane originals, "Say Yes" and "So Good," kick start the record with syncopated beats and electrifying grooves, revealing her versatile skills as a singer and songwriter. Though Watts' own compositions are definitely record highlights, strong covers anchor her track list. The title cut nicely re-dresses Crystal Lewis' mid-'90s classic; and Faith Hill's "There Will Come a Day" contributes another viable contemporary cover to the lineup. But it is the traditional duet with J. Moss, "Available to You," and the Vanessa Bell Armstrong standard, "Faith That Conquers," that completely demonstrate Watts' roots and range.
Considering four producers meddled with the final product (including Dove Award-winning "Producer of the Year" Bernie Herms), People Get Ready is amazingly cohesive, keeping to a formula of straight-ahead urban-pop arrangements. Worthy of its declarative title, this peppy collection clearly demonstrates why the straight-up gospel singer's inspiring messages and knock 'em dead vocals won over TV audiences nationwide. But Melinda Watts is not just some reality TV alum. She is the real deal and has created a record to back up the claim.
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**This review first published on September 29, 2009.