“This is a GREAT and REFRESHING project. I love it! ~Ricky Dillard
“Remember who you always were, where you came from, who your parents were, how they raised you. Because that authentic self is going to follow you all through life, so make sure that it's solid so it's something that you can hold on and be proud of for the rest of your life.” – Michelle Obama
What is gospel music? That may appear to be a simple question, but in an era where creative industries and genres find themselves in crises of identity, defining gospel music has become a hot topic with an interesting mix of disparity. Fortunately, there is no discrepancy for the Fire Baptized Holiness Church as they burst back onto the scene with their new project, FBH Live! Like other major church denominations, the organization has a rich musical history. National recording artists, musicians and producers like Donald Lawrence, Rev. Timothy Wright, The Murrills, Lucinda Moore, Demetrius Griffin, Natalie Wilson, Liz Wright, Joe Wilson, and many others can all count the Fire Baptized Holiness Church as a major part of their musical and spiritual heritage. To preserve this rich legacy and carry it forward, Executive Producer André Littlejohn and National Music Director Markell Powell have crafted an undeniable gospel music offering for the 21st century church and beyond with FBH Live!
The music and production teams of the Fire Baptized Holiness Church were very intentional around their music selection for FBH Live! “Our church has a unique sound, once you hear it, you know it’s FBH,” says Powell when asked to describe the organization’s musical style. André Littlejohn, the Executive Producer of the project made it his mission to stay true to that unique sound. Littlejohn affirms, “We stay true to our core. We don’t try to follow the trends and that’s what has brought us so far. We never deviated who we are.” The organization’s first recording in over 20 years, FBH Live! is a relevant and progressive compilation of music that maintains the church’s holiness history while securing its musical future, but it didn’t come without some challenges.
The project almost didn’t make it. After the first live recording became unusable because of technical glitches and unforeseen difficulties, Littlejohn and Powell came close to scrapping the entire project. But after much prayer and determination, they decided to push through their disappointment and record again. Their perseverance paid off to give us FBH Live!
“We wanted there to be songs for the choir to sing for the whole service.” – Markell Powell, National Music Director
Before praise teams became ubiquitous in church culture, much of the heavy musical lifting in churches were handled by the choir. FBH Live! begins like most of our church services today with a moment of Praise & Worship but with a choir twist. “Bless His Name” contains all of the singable elements of modern day praise and worship songs but maintains the vocal heft that only a gospel choir can bring. Marc Britt expertly maintains the song’s congregational appeal while Juanita Contee drives it home with impressive vocal dexterity.
FBH Live! moves forward with Courtney Spurgeon leading “We Need Your Power,” a track that cements the Fire Baptized Holiness Church’s choir as a formidable aggregation of singers. The album continues with the stand out tune “Things Are Gonna Get Better” written by Demetrius Griffin of Demetrius Griffin & The Griffin Experience fame. Here, FBH Live! showcases the choir’s versatility and dynamic tone while featured soloist and long-time member Lady Tammy Brown adds impressive weight to an already substantial song.
“The method may change but the message stays the same.” – André Littlejohn, Executive Producer
You can’t have church without a preacher and FBH Live! makes sure they stay true to their roots with preached moments of inspiration and reflection throughout. Bishop A.L. Rodgers picks up where “Things Are Gonna Get Better” leaves off with a fiery sermonette reminding listeners of the church’s doctrinal point of view and leads the congregation in a passionate rendition of the church anthem. “Bishop A.L. Rodgers’ Exhortation” perfectly sets up the album’s next track, “Since He Came Into My Life,” a jazzy feel good tune exclaiming the wonderful changes believers experience when they give their lives to Christ.
FBH Live! continues with the groovy “So Glad” written by up and coming songwriter J. Lindsey Williams and led by Elder Franklin Brown. With its familiar east-coast bump and rousing modulations, the song stands as an updated nod to the choir sound made popular by gospel trailblazer Hezekiah Walker.
Next, the worshipful “Jesus, Jesus,” written by Executive Producer André Littlejohn with leads by Elder Brown and Jessica Williams, shifts FBH Live! to a moment of deep reverence and contemplation on the beauty and wonder of Jesus Christ. Expect your churches to be singing all or part of this chant-driven track soon and the “Praise Break” that follows is just a preview of what is sure to happen each time they do.
Bishop P.L. Frazier, Jr., Chairman of the Board of Bishops, masterfully sets up “We Shall Be Changed” with its merging of traditional gospel sounds and an R&B feel. Brandon Graves and Jazmine Williams use their vocal prowess to sing with calculated and purposeful restraint that complement each other perfectly.
Trina Ferebee leads the choir on the moving mid-tempo, Antoine Adams penned, “Blood of Jesus” with unfiltered conviction. From Ferebee’s powerful melismatic intro to the crescendo of soaring choir vocals on the song’s vamp, “Blood of Jesus” is gospel choir music at its finest.
Finally, FBH Live! takes it home with the foot stomping, hand clapping sound they are known for on “He Made A Way.” You’ll shout, you’ll dance, and likely press repeat on this track or the whole project because after listening to FBH Live! the answer is clear. THIS IS GOSPEL MUSIC!