Okay, let me get this out of the way up front: Before I heard one note from her, I admired Temika Moore. Working in a tough industry that has a history of treating both women and African American artists unfairly, Temika is a unique performer who, against odds, has taken complete control of her career, serving as songwriter, performer, arranger, producer and head of her own entertainment and recording company, Moore II Come Entertainment.
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Moore graduated from the Philadelphia High School for Creative and Performing Arts, a virtual breeding ground for talent, including Boyz II Men, Marc Nelson and the Roots. From there she attended the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, where she was recognized as "The Most Outstanding Graduate." Following graduation, her music career took off, and she gathered a strong following in the Philadelphia, New York and especially D.C.
Her most recent and notable accomplishment is her debut release, Moment of Truth, on which she has not only gathered a great collection of self-penned tunes and covers, but, with producer Jonathan Davis, has also put together an excellent band of musicians to accompany her (how many other independent soul releases use real musicians anymore?). On Moment, Moore moves from soul to smooth jazz to a sassy swing, all very effectively. Her crisp voice occasionally sounds like CeCe Winans (especially on ballads) but lifts to a Vesta-like roar on upbeat material. If the measure of a singer is how he or she covers classic material, then Temika passes the test on her jazzy covers of Gershwin's "Summertime" and the oft-recorded soul classic "Everything Must Change." The latter is especially pleasing, as she and saxman Steven Budnick take a song that is often covered in a maudlin fashion and instead create a unique, sophisticated jazzy cut that sounds just right. And while Moore's self-penned material on Moment is uneven, her performance throughout is outstanding. The album is at its weakest on a couple of original upbeat numbers ("The World Don't Revolve Around You" and "A Woman") which are quite interesting lyrically (giving some serious sisterly advice), but just lack great tunes. Much better are the piano ballad, "With You," the acoustic "Testimony," and the smooth jazz cut, "Peace of Mind." The highlight of the album, however, is the great closing ballad, "Holding On To You," which has the feel of Whitney Houston's "Miracle," and which is the ultimate moment on the album where singer, song and band (especially guitarist Stanley Cooper) come together perfectly. A truly wonderful six minutes.
Moment of Truth had an effect on me similar to Ralph Graham's most recent release -- it left me, more than anything, wanting to hear Temika sing live. She is clearly a talented performer who has faced her own Moment of Truth and come out a winner. I'm looking forward to hearing more from her.
By Chris Rizik