As a child of Gospel music, raised as the daughter of a Baptist minister and with a lifelong love of music, it was not surprising that Ester Nicholson chose singing as a career. But her first break was not in singing Christian music. Her smooth, attractive voice landed her regular work as an in-demand backing singer, both on recordings and tours. Over the past decade she's supported such top shelf singers as Rod Stewart, Bette Midler, Brenda Russell, Faith Hill, Al Green and Barbra Streisand.
A drug addiction almost cut her life short, but she found both recovery and redemption in her faith. Her experience became the foundation for a second career as an inspirational speaker and now as a featured singer, with the release of her album Child Above the Sun,
Child is a sophisticated, melodic album that has appeal both to Gospel and Contemporary Christian fans, and could also sneak onto the playlists of adult contemporary stations. More spiritual than overtly religious, it is lyrically largely a musical reflection on Nicholson's experiences, with special emphasis on the personal epiphany that faith provided to her at her darkest moments. This is particularly true on the title cut, a gorgeous ballad the sweetness of which belies the haunting underlying message of a drug addict, ashamed of herself and asking for forgiveness.
Nicholson's voice bears more than a slight resemblance to Yolanda Adams', and musically the disc is the kind of elegant, adult-oriented album that has been the foundation for Adams' enviable career. Songwriting and song selection are particularly notable here, with infectious tracks like "Never Be the Same" standing alongside excellent outside compositions such as Wendy Waldman's "One Heart" and Brenda Russell's "What Would Love Do Now."
Child of the Sun may be too tastefully refined for some soul music listeners, but it is tough to argue with the album's songwriting and production or with Nicholson's consistenly strong vocals. For lovers of beautifully performed adult soul music, this is highly recommended.
By Chris Rizik