Wow Gospel 2001 -- Where Worship Originated!

Matthew Turner
There is nothing more uplifting and worshipful than pure gospel music. Big choirs, soloists belting out their songs, and sweat pouring from the brow of the director -- these are the pictures that make you feel you've just been in the presence of Jesus. It's no secret that the true origin of contemporary Christian music is the black church. African-Americans have celebrated Christ's freedom with dance, music and expression for far longer than CCM has been around.

It's sad that only in the last few years have people from all different cultures, including white, black, Latino and more, come together to be more appreciative of each other's styles of worship. The WoW series has been on the forefront of this trend. WoW Gospel has been one of the top-selling collections for the last three years. It's a beautiful collection that showcases the depth, creativity and styles that make up the current Gospel music scene.

Of course, all of the "biggies" are included in the collection. Fred Hammond, Cece Winans, Yolanda Adams, Shirley Caesar and Hezekiah Walker are all singing their hits from the last year. I love the fact that the album includes some of the up-and-comers. Mary Mary had a huge year in both the gospel music and mainstream industries. Their hit song Shackels is the opening song. Winans Phase 2 are included with their song It's Alright (Send Me).

I think that, when making a collection like this, it's important to include those who have led the way to gospel music's success. Shirley Caesar is an awesome artist, but what about Aretha Franklin, The Fairfield Four and others who catapulted the gospel music scene to where it is today? This is not a criticism, but perhaps a suggestion. I also have to say that I miss the inclusion of music by BeBe Winans. He had a huge year, and I thought he should have been included.

This project, which comes out on Feb. 23, is truly a gift for those who are familiar with gospel music or those who are looking for a nice introduction. The tempo of the album is diverse, from the haunting vocals of Aaron Neville to the energetic Joe Pace and the Colorado Mass Choir to tearful expressions from CeCe Winans. Listeners are easily moved from praise to repentence to overwhelming joy with each new song.

By Matthew Turner

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