I was not a big fan of Usher, that is until 2005, when he was part of an All-Star Tribute to Luther Vandross. Being infinitely familiar with Luther (See Thank You, Mr. Vandross), I was paying close attention to this project and especially Mr. Raymond because if there was ever a song you didn’t want to screw up, it was “Superstar”, the very song that Usher was to record. I listened as he crafted every note, reverencing Vandross’ subtle nuances, remembering every flex and tone that only Luther could do and made the song a classic. I tipped my hat to Usher because he showed me that he not only was a good singer, but he respected the music.
This is a nice segue into my review of the new single by Melonie Daniels-Walker. Daniels is a consummate professional, personable performer and exacting melodist. She is certainly not a newcomer to our ears. Perhaps we didn’t know she was there, but the music from artists like: Kirk Franklin, Kim Burrell, Greater Allen Cathedral, Mariah Carey, Andre Crouch, Donald Lawrence, Fred Hammond, Karen Clark-Sheard was all the better for it.
Daniels’ voice has garnered her major opportunities, including television theme songs. You may remember the theme song from the UPN show, Half & Half. Yes. That was Melonie. Well…at least until the end.
“Half & Half” Theme Song
From her work with Mariah Carey, she went to spread her expertise and excellence to Greater Allen Cathedral.
Somewhere along this line, I got a tip that this vocal titan had a project somewhere. I scoured the internet, online stores and finally found it at, of all places, MySpace. It was well worth the search. On that project, I found one of the songs that goes on my special list: “Glory After This”
“Glory After This” – Melonie Daniels: Live In Concert
Formally and classically trained, Daniels is a proven performer. She is capable of taking the limits of singing and pushing them further. From afar, I have been mesmerized by her and often shake my head as she cleanly and accurately pulls off things that are on the edge of what the average vocalist can do….effortlessly. She has been quoted as saying that her voice is not pleasing to hear – to her. Well, that is surely not the case for the rest of us. In the case of The Edwin Hawkins & Walter Hawkins Music & Arts Seminar’s recording of “You Can Count On Him”, the reaction of the audience is priceless and just as jarring as the singing itself.
“You Can Count On Him” – Edwin Hawkins & Walter Hawkins Love Fellowship Conference Mass Choir
Getting to the business at hand, Melonie Daniels-Walker has a new single available. “I Need Your Spirit” comes just in time as a perfect homage to the late Rev. Darryl Coley. Walker carefully preserves the sound that makes the song familiar. She adds some of the exact tones that Daryl was famous for and adds the things that only she can do. Not once does she disrespect the original song or the listener who is eagerly anticipating what she will do with it. I probably have permanent creases in my forehead because of all the times my eyebrows went up. She led me to places I wasn’t expecting and that – in a world of cookie-cutter singers and been-there-done-that melodies – is a very good things. Three minutes in, she makes a move that background singer would love because of the timing challenge. Ending on a quiet note, the song gets to breathe and we are immediately stirred to either hear it again to try and process it or turn it off because we are still stunned. I would expect nothing less than the mixing and production quality I get from this song. THIS, young singers, is what your new single should sound like!
Once again, I tip my hat to someone who is not only a phenomenal singer, but an Artist You Should Know and someone who respects the music.