Although AYSK is a labor of love for me, one of the biggest thrills I receive is when managers or PR Agents reach out and ask what they need to be included. When one artist recommends that another artist be included that is also an tremendous thrill. This is always an honor because it means that you are doing something that people seek out and they consider it to be quality work. That is what I try to provide with each and every feature I write. Independent artists need the best and most positive press they can get and I do my part to provide something they can use in their marketing campaigns and social media outlets. It is even more beneficial when someone seeks out a review and the music is incredible. It is a joy to them to have such nice words applied to their work and a boon to me to have the opportunity to hear such amazing talent (sometimes ahead of the public). This has been the case with the featured artists in this installment of…
From the first note, the purity and depth of her voice embraces the listening ear and lets you know there is no need for reservation when listening to Jessica Hitte.
Her new single “Cry For Me” is a delightfully simple proclamation of the true intentions of those who love God. If you love Him, you sing about Him, right?. Well, that is what she does and in glorious fashion. The single, as with all of Hitte’s music, is well produced and on par with anything (and I mean ANYTHING) featured on mainstream radio. The familiar principle in Luke 19:40 is graceful enough not to be overbearing yet it is a strong and solid melody. It came to me just in time for the last stretch of summer and it has been my riding song ever since.
I am probably dating myself, but the last time I heard a song that was this nice to hear, it involved four girls from Detroit that sprung from a great male group of the same city (anyone heard of Witness?). Not since have I been this enthralled with a female vocalist. My excitement is in huge part due to the herculean efforts of LeBron Arnwine one of the most gifted producers of the era and as much a champion, musically, as his NBA namesake.
The song exudes an unspoken joy that really pleases the ear. There is a clarity in her voice that is characteristic of a worshiper — which also reveals this artist’s true tenet. The solid tones and accurate placement present this artist’s gifting with the highest quality — as does everything about the production. The music is top-tier, the support vocals are smooth and precise in their delivery. All of which gives the singer room to vocally propel the song with confidence. Propelling is exactly what she does in the song’s climax, where a stimulating voice and an enrapturing groove create an audible feast that remains with the listener long after the song has ended. Her light and delicate voice is a refreshing alternative to many dark and aggressive sounds within the industry.
I would be remiss if I did not mention her 2016 work, entitled “You Never Give Up” featuring amazing songs like “Blessings and Honor“, “Love Covers” and the song that made my family fall in love with her, “Where Would I Be“. I admonish anyone who loves good music to obtain both of these offerings for their collection.
My sincerest thanks to Whitley Karick, Jessica’s PR manager for the opportunity to hear this wealth of talent. She has presented to us a singer of the highest caliber and undermost humility: Jessica Hitte, definitely an Artist You Should Know.
“Cry For Me” by Jessica Hitte
“Lift Me Up” is not a song that talks about the things we are entitled to nor our expected position in the Kingdom. However, it is a moving, powerful reminder of our position in the plan or Salvation –the fact that we had little input and owe all acquiescence.
The song is serious and reverent from the time it begins until its placid ending. Chris Parker is at the helm, skillfully guiding the song with amazing vocal prowess. He is accompanied by a group of singers and musicians with an undeniable gifting and chemistry.
It is a song that remains fixed on a clear message and can be sung by people from all levels and backgrounds. It is untainted, simplistic worship with no question about its intent. Reverent tones radiate from the song leaving little doubt that Parker is not only a capable singer, but an adamant worshiper. Just as the listener is settling into the medley and the message, they are treated to the voice of Grammy-winning phenomenon, KJ Scriven. Such a powerful duo is almost incomprehensible and no doubt, it is a reward to the listener as well as both artists.
Telling people to worship is one thing, reminding them why they need to, yet another. Chris Parker has left us with a gentle remembrance of what God has awarded us with and wrapped it in a brilliantly-executed package. Every time I hear it, it certainly does “Lift Me Up“.
A huge thanks to Mr. Samuel Ceus, who reached out for a review. We will hear more from Samuel’s other artists later this month.
“Lift Me Up” by Chris Parker
The title would lead you to believe that the song is about the trials and tribulations that the singer has been through. Not so here, the artist instead uses her platform to reaffirm Romans 8:37. A refreshing concept in itself that intrigued me enough to continue listening to her smash hit single “Survivor“.
Then, somewhere around at 2:10 in the song and with no warning, we take a sharp turn into a hard drive and borderline R&B/Rock territory. I am not at all saying that this is a bad thing. To the contrary, this adds some grit to the song and Ayanna McDonald digs her heels in and declares victory over circumstances that were supposed to defeat her.
Although she now lives in Atlanta, GA, you can hear her New York roots as she brazenly delivers the song. Her emphatic tones are complimented by razor-sharp riffs and her ability to vocally play with rhythms at will. Everything you hear in this song is superior; from the mixing/mastering to the drummer’s placement, you hear nothing but excellence. I look to hear more from Ms. McDonald and will enjoy her when she visits my city come September. She is a voice I want to hear more from and an Artist You Should Know.
“Survivor” by Ayana McDonald
This one was a little different. I did an AYSK feature on William Demps‘ and his song “Seize The Moment” which we liked immensely and we were given special access to his newest music, a lively tune called “Beauty Out Of You” before its release. This young man joins a very small group of artists that I have been blessed to have personal contact with and it has been amazing to learn how amiable and pleasant they are. During the EWHMAS, I had the pleasure of meeting him and he was every bit as as gracious in person.
As for the song itself, Demps wastes no time in getting you engaged in the song. The arrangement quickly reveals that this may be an independent artist, but this is no amateur effort. He shares a story that we all could tell about our lives as it relates to God’s ability to see past our shortcomings to our true exquisiteness. Tell a story? this singer does so in grand fashion. with eye-opening range and accuracy to a fault — all the while complemented by well-placed embellishments and commendable control. No doubt, his singing ability gets an A+. You can’t be the agent of change unless you have the goods. Demps is loaded down with them.
Musically, the song is reminiscent of something from artists like Tonex, J. Moss or Kirk Franklin. They don’t remain confined to the normal environs of Gospel music. Being innovative is nothing unless your presentation is first-rate. In which case, the song’s production and presentation are spot-on in terms of quality and depth. Demps didn’t just think outside that rigid box, but was imaginative enough to use this song as authorship to his own constructs in musical style.
I would consider few artists to be forward-thinkers. So many play it safe by emulating the normal trends. Others cushion the blow by using traditional standards as their base for artistic ideas. It’s certainly not easy being innovative, but it surely pays off and makes you unmistakably unique. That’s how I would sum up William Demps: one that has a distinct and gratifying style which he uses as a call-to-action for God’s cause. William Demps has given us a great song in “Beauty Out Of You“. I am proud to know him and I certainly recommend this song as an opportunity to get acquainted with this Artist You Should Know.
“Beauty Out Of You” by William Demps
A singer recently contacted me because they needed a song to sing for a conference and wanted a suggestion from me. It’s a shame that many of the artists that I cover in AYSK don’t have the dollars and distribution behind them because their music is genuinely good.
One song I suggested was Marica Chisholm‘s new single “Favor“. It’s a great song with an encouraging message. It is also simple for the singer, the musician, anyone that will sing background and the audience that will receive it.
This is the kind of song that would be well-received in a conference or revival service. The song is not only good, but Chisolm does a fine job of delivering the message without the sense of entitlement that seems to invade modern Gospel music more and more these days. Her delicate voice wafts over the notes with grace. She naturally falls off some notes and phrases in a way that most singers have to practice intently.
Her sophomore album, “Worship Conversations”, reinforces the idea that worship is not only submission, but a form of two-way communication with God. I have not had the opportunity to hear it, but her track record as a proficient worship artist gives me confidence that this will be her best offering ever.
With good friend, MaQues Collins and MC Management by her side, there can only be greater things on the horizon for this mellifluous worshiper. I only recently came across the single and I’m thankful that she has released this song and that songs like it are still being produced today. Thank you, Marica Chisolm, for providing us with beautiful songs like “Favor“, “Used” (2012) and “Send Your Rain” (2013) that serves as an encouragement to the listener and functions as a conduit through which a service can flow.
MC Management has another jewel on their hands with this one. From the forward-sounding “Changed” to the universal song of unity, “As One” to the catchy “Awesome God“, the project from Cepeda McKay & No Limits is an audible joy-ride that the speaks of unity of The Body and the uplifting of Christ.
An aggregation with amazing vocal ability and versatility that lacks no verve. While the genre has its share of similarities, this group is certainly not a carbon copy of anyone. They have energy, talent and flavor all their own.
The image they portray is one of cosmopolitan class; not traditional to the point of being stuffy, but not so contemporary that they become offensive. Their music is reflective of that image with a demeanor that conveys refinement in every song. They are great singers with great music and a great sound. This is what makes them an Artist You Should Know.
“Awesome God by Cepeda McKay & No Limits”
I came to know this artist through a strong recommendation from another artist that we’ve covered in AYSK before, Jon Johnson, Sr. While talking to him at a Chicago recording for the upcoming album from G3 (yes, you heard it here first), Johnson told me about a young lady he wanted to have in town. He raved about her and allowed me to view a video of her singing. Not only was it amazing, it sparked me to add her to my personal playlist. Now, I encourage you to add her to yours.
Yeah Hilton, A unique name with a unique sound. Her upbeat new single is unique in itself. A song that is easily taken in by the listener and befitting a modern worship team. “Grace” is an upbeat, invigorating tune, splendidly performed by this amazing singer.
It’s an upbeat number that pumps along with a swinging rhythm and features a cycling motif. What begins as a well-produced song with simplicity quickly becomes a exciting by hanging onto a simple vamp and leaving room for Hilton’s talent to come to the forefront.
This is a song with wide melodic range that never overstays its welcome. A sterling quality separating her from less experienced singers is how she well meters out her vocal embellishments to match what the musicians are doing.
These are the sort of production qualities we associate with major talents like this and the song delivers in a big way. Produced by the legendary Kevin Bond, it is no wonder the song delivers in its every.
This singer has adroitness, range and skill that is second-to-none. Her vocals make a big impact, but in no way cause Yael Hilton to be cavalier about her talent. This impact is made even greater by the recommendation of those who have heard her. Those who have, like Jon Johnson, Sr. tell us that she is an Artist You Should Know.
“Grace” by Yael Hilton
We will come back later in the month with more artists that were brought to our attention by those who love, manage and support them. If you know of any artists that could use the exposure or you are an artist that could use a review for your marketing campaign, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be glad to give the details. Godspeed.