DeWayne Woods - Life Lessons (2015)

DeWayne Woods
dewaynewoods-life.jpg
Click on CD cover
to listen or purchase

It’s hard to believe that nearly a decade has passed since DeWayne Woods emerged a fully formed gospel music star as a result of his anthem “Let Go.” Church choirs across the nation performed that tune, and “Let Go” managed to cross the gospel/secular barrier after spending all or parts of three years on either the gospel or R&B charts.

Woods also became equally famous for the testimony that he received a miraculous healing after being diagnosed with HIV back in the 1990s. Some people believed Woods’ testimony as an example of God’s healing powers. Others demanded proof, and others sought to explore the artist’s personal sexual history and concluded that what they viewed as Woods’ unwillingness to be forthcoming as hints of a potential scandal.

It’s hard to believe that nearly a decade has passed since DeWayne Woods emerged a fully formed gospel music star as a result of his anthem “Let Go.” Church choirs across the nation performed that tune, and “Let Go” managed to cross the gospel/secular barrier after spending all or parts of three years on either the gospel or R&B charts.

Woods also became equally famous for the testimony that he received a miraculous healing after being diagnosed with HIV back in the 1990s. Some people believed Woods’ testimony as an example of God’s healing powers. Others demanded proof, and others sought to explore the artist’s personal sexual history and concluded that what they viewed as Woods’ unwillingness to be forthcoming as hints of a potential scandal.

Woods continued making music and collaborating with artists and producers from a variety of genres. Really, the only recurring theme has been Woods’ ability to use the disappointments, crises, slights and rumors as inspiration, and that continues on Life Lessons, his latest CD that includes collaborations with artists such as P.J. Morton, David Hollister, Anthony Hamilton and Avery*Sunshine.

Woods is an unparalleled interpreter of R&B infused gospel both as a result of his apprenticeship with artists such as Donald Lawrence, as well as a stint as the lead singer for R&B legends Atlantic Starr. And after Woods knocked the Morton-penned “Let Go” out of the park, it’s easy to see why the Maroon 5 keyboardist was open to a return engagement. The Morton/Woods collaboration works because as a preacher’s kid Morton knows how to turn those contemporary R&B arrangements heavenward and the Morton penned gospel ballad “Never Be The Same” finds Woods displaying the honesty and vulnerability that “Let Go” mined so well nine years ago.

Woods’ soaring tenor is the perfect match for Avery*Sunshine’s angelic soprano on “Take All the Pain Away.” This is a mid-tempo track that finds both of the power packed vocalists reminding listeners that God heals mental and emotional pain, as well as physical pain.

“Friend of Mine” starts with percussive beat that sets the tone for an old style/blues infused gospel romp. And with the presence of the gritty vocals of collaborator for all seasons Anthony Hamilton and the gritty baritone of David Hollister, this track deftly fuses the hip slappin’ vocal group singing with the easily remembered hooks of praise and worship.

Woods is his best on Life Lessons when he uses the musical platform to encourage listeners to make enemies footstools and their setbacks a setup for a comeback. “They Said,” is a track that sports Earth, Wind & Fire styled keyboards and finds Woods praising God by looking back on all of the things that the naysayers said that he would never achieve and reminding friend and foe alike that promotion comes from above. “Say what you wanna/believe what you will/. But I found that there’s only one who has the last word on it/See, when everybody/Gave up on me/He knew I was redeemable and made me whole.”

There may be those who try to use Woods’ past against him, but Woods has learned to focus on his blessings, and to bless those with a willing spirit by providing inspired and high quality gospel and inspirational music. And that may be the biggest lesson from Life Lessons. Strongly Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
Album of the Month - Juewett Bostick - Shades of Blu
Song of the Month - Bryan Andrew Wilson - "Only You'
Choice Cut - Kea Michaels - "Not My Friend"

Leave a comment!