AYSK: Chi-Town Edition
We continue Season 3 of AYSK by featuring artists from my hometown of Chicago, IL. While I enjoy connecting with artists across the country, there is something special about featuring people that I have some connection to — either geographical, personal or professional. There is a sense of pride in talking about artists that come from Chi-town and feature the soulful and diverse sounds that make our city unique. Here are a few more Artists You Should Know from the birthplace of Gospel music.
JON JOHNSON SR.
AYSK has featured Jon Johnson before and his talents have garnered another look. Releasing “Not Afraid” and “Shine”. He returns to our pages with his new release, “The Gospel“. Johnson has always been a passionate worshipper and his music has never strayed from his life’s mission. Previous songs in his catalog have an acoustic tone and could just as easily ride on CCM airwaves as mainstream Gospel. Johnson is perhaps a master at balancing the powerful emotion of black Gospel music with the lyrics and objectivity of Christian music.
His newest single “The Gospel” delivers more of the same humble conviction he is known for. He proclaims that while many don’t want to hear it, he will continue to speak truth to power and knowledge about the God he serves. Who can argue with that? This song should allow Johnson to join the ranks of David Dunn and Matt Redman as an artist who is loved by many as he exhibits his love for God.
“The Gospel” – Jon Johnson Sr.
One of Chi-Town’s finest Worship Leaders has migrated to the Nation’s Capitol to share her gifts. Fortunately, these gifts seem not to have lost any strength in the move. With a resounding lower register and the ability to intersect crowd engagement and spiritual activity, Michelle Bennett releases her newest single, “In This Place” a song that has a soothing, mellow feel to it. The most prominent part of this song is Michelle’s own voice. The supporting vocals are almost angelic in their approach to the line “Let God arise. Let the fragrance of His presence fill this place.” I was taken aback by an early key change, but nothing that took anything away from the song.
Strangely enough, I hear the song and think if you just played the music, it could be any number of secular songs but, with the vocals and arrangement in place, it seems as if this was meant o be. The sign that a song is inspired is when it just feels like a perfect mesh of words and music. “In This Place” is just that.
We’ve waited years for new music from this experienced minstrel and this song gives us everything we that love her, love about her.
“In This Place” – Michelle Bennett
& GLORY SONG MINISTRIES
Almost immediately, I was taken aback to a different time with beautiful piano, lovely strings and sincere lyrics. This is not to say that the song “…” is date –certainly not! What I can say is that it is classic. In the traditions of singers from the early 40’s and as late as the 60’s, Trina Davis allows her new song to ride on flowing currents of simplicity. I am not sure who the band was for this single, but it was definitely a very mature musician. There were times when I knew that the next line was going to be laced with sporadic chord progressions and the usual swell of riffs and screams so prevalent in today’s Gospel music. However, both the singer and the musician respected the integrity of the message and allowed the sentiment to take center stage. I am thoroughly impressed by that.
With a bridge reminding me of something from a classic Broadway song (with a hint of Jennifer Holliday), she evokes passion from deep within. Trina’s voice provides a canvas on which any singer can paint their own unique design. She does not get in the way of the music, but allows her voice to get immersed in it. “My Prayer” is an excellent devotion song for those times when you don’t want anything heavy, but want something with musical substance. Don’t pass this one by. Pastor (- wife and mother of five -) Trina Davis, is not to be missed.
“My Prayer” – Trina Davis
KENNY LEWIS & ONE VOICE
Birthed from the gospel capital of the world, Chicago IL. Kenny and One Voice offer something special and unique for every gospel music lover; from traditional, Praise and Worship, contemporary and urban. Through their unique styling, filled with dramatic energy and outstanding vocal discipline, they display the message of the Gospel.
They recorded their first album in 2000 “The Bridge”. Then “The Mission” in 2009, which featured the Gospel top 15 hit “I Am”. Their third and latest release is entitled “The Way of Escape” with the breakout hit, “Hero”. While the group has been a part of the industry for many years, they have always stood out with their attention to detail and excellent performances.
Embarking on new phase in their ministry, they debut their newest gift to the world, “Love Song“. A beautiful composition that seems like an intimate conversation between Worshipper and Savior that we are given access to. It begins with the sweetest sound and concludes with a thunderous pledge that rises as high as the Heavens it seeks to reach. In this new phase, they have produced an accompanying video, whose production is on par with anything from contemporaries like Tye Tribbet, James Fortune or Jonathan Nelson. Kenny Lewis & One Voice seem to effortlessly capture the “Chicago Sound”, which is unmatched anywhere. All the while, they remain true to themselves and palatable to worldwide audiences.
This video seems to capture their focused energy, contrition and a modern sound. Kenny Lewis has been an impressive part of Chicago’s Gospel music story and with “Love Song“, we hope he continues to be.
Another installment of Artists You Should Know is in the books. A plethora of talent comes out of Chicago. Not only are we proud to highlight it because it’s native, we are proud to feature it because these artists are good and a blessing to the Kingdom. Please share.