Music World Gospel (2012)
By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog.
Grammy Award-winning Le’Andria Johnson returns with a vocal vengeance on The Experience, a live performance at St. Stephen’s Baptist Church in Houston, Texas. Her oversized voice—more than twice the size of her sinewy frame—possesses the two-ness, the combination of ecstacy and sorrow, that is characteristic of the best gospel singers.
The first half of the program feels autobiographical. Johnson wears her heart on her vocal cords as she states some important truths about herself. At the outset, on “I’m Living,” the singer asserts that she likes all kinds of music, but “it don’t mean a thing if it can’t carry you through.” As if to drive home the point, her musicians give the track a hard-hitting rock soundscape. On “My Story Continues,” Johnson uses tough words to affirm that she isn’t going away, even if “they never thought I would make it this far.” During “Complicated,” Johnson sings that she has cried so many nights, but has overcome the pain.
The album’s tour de force is “Revival Fire Fall.” Johnson unleashes a full arsenal of gospel embellishment, including clenched teeth moans and gut-wrenching shouts, to create a song that possesses the otherworldly intensity of Butterfly’s final aria, “Con Onor Muore.”
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