DeWayne Woods - Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet (2007)

DeWayne Woods
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DeWayne Woods has a testimony, but those listening to Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet will have to wait until the album's fifth track to hear it. That's when the gospel singer tells his story.

In 1993, Woods tested positive for HIV. To make a long story short, the virus didn't run the natural course, and Woods didn't die of AIDS. During the middle of his treatment, Woods says he decided to stop using the drugs that were supposed to bolster his immune system and stave off the onset of AIDS. Woods tells his audience that he felt that if he was going to say God is a healer, then he needed trust God to heal him.

DeWayne Woods has a testimony, but those listening to Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet will have to wait until the album's fifth track to hear it. That's when the gospel singer tells his story.

In 1993, Woods tested positive for HIV. To make a long story short, the virus didn't run the natural course, and Woods didn't die of AIDS. During the middle of his treatment, Woods says he decided to stop using the drugs that were supposed to bolster his immune system and stave off the onset of AIDS. Woods tells his audience that he felt that if he was going to say God is a healer, then he needed trust God to heal him.

Of course, some people - including a born again cancer survivor like myself - believe God created doctors and endowed the medicines they dispense with healing properties, so Woods wouldn't have been sinning if he kept taking his medicine.  After all, Magic Johnson took those anti-AIDS drugs for years, and has pretty much the same testimony. Still, nobody can deny that Woods' story - which ends with him being told that he is HIV negative several years after the original diagnosis - is amazing, even in a culture where the amazing is commonplace. That powerful testimony changes the way the listener approaches the rest of the album. Every song that proceeds after that testimony takes on an added emotional heft. I mean, who can doubt Woods' sincerity and his faith in God after hearing that testimony. But fact also raises one question - why didn't he put the testimonial at the beginning of the album?

Woods will probably respond that he positioned each track where it is positioned because he was following the dictates of the Holy Spirit, and who can argue with that? At the risk of sounding like I'm arguing with that, I believe a person would have a truly profound spiritual experience if they heard the song "Let Go" for the first time after hearing that testimony. "Let Go," which is Woods' take on that oft stated but seldom followed saying "let go and let God," is a great song in it's own right. I first heard it over the summer when the male chorus at my church sang it for Men's Day. We all received copies of the lyrics, and after reading them it was hard for me not to recall all those times I had to "let go" from the day I received my diagnosis until right now.

I may find Woods' decision perplexing, but his choice highlights one thing many people admire about gospel artists - they are actually led by their convictions. Eventually, listeners will address Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet, as a work of art. After all, gospel music fans have a reputation for having pretty high expectations. Gospel artists who perform praise and worship songs need to display an ability to fuse gospel and contemporary hip hop influenced R&B. Artists who do traditional choral songs must make sure that arrangements are precise, and those sing mid-tempo or slow hymns better tell a compelling story of God's saving, healing, forgiving or delivering grace.

Woods proves adept at doing all three. He displays his storytelling skills on the aforementioned "Let Go," as well as "God Still Heals," the song that follows Woods' testimony. "Made A Way" stands as a showcase for the choir. Wood's singing punctuates and compliments a powerful choral arrangement. "Strong Tower" is an up-tempo praise song that includes that staple of an easily remembered hook: "The name of the Lord is a strong tower/The righteous run in and are saved."

Still, the best moments on Introducing DeWayne Woods & When Singers Meet are when Woods sings songs like "Let Go," and "Bid Me To Come," that feature great, anointed singing and compelling and uplifting lyrics.

By Howard Dukes

 
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