Genita Pugh - My Purpose

Genita Pugh
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It should not be surprising that gospel singer Genita Pugh is a traditionalist. After all, she is a pastor in her hometown of Laurel, Miss. But in addition to a traditional approach to music, Rev. Pugh possesses an incredibly rich vocal instrument that flavors all of her work, including her latest recording, My Purpose.

It should not be surprising that gospel singer Genita Pugh is a traditionalist. After all, she is a pastor in her hometown of Laurel, Miss. But in addition to a traditional approach to music, Rev. Pugh possesses an incredibly rich vocal instrument that flavors all of her work, including her latest recording, My Purpose.

The album has received some heavy attention as a result of the first single and video, “Can’t Live.” The tune, which is the first single from My Purpose, expands on the hook from an R. Kelly song. Gospel singers have long repurposed hits from the R&B canon – transforming them into songs that tell the good news of the Gospel. The selections tapped for such a transformation includes James Cleveland’s borrowing Gladys Knight’s “You Are the Best Thing that Ever Happened to Me” way back in the 1970’s. That effort legitimized - if not created - the practice. More recently, R&B star Faith Evans teamed with Sunday Best finalist Jessica Reedy on the gospel cover of the disco song “Doctor Love.” There was even a faith-based makeover of R. Kelly’s epic “Trapped in the Closet.”

Rev. Pugh uses all of the cuts on My Purpose to deliver the kind of musical message that is a clear and unabashed declaration of belief and dependence on God’s grace and power. Her songs feature Pugh’s powerful vocals backed by a small choir. Some, such as the gospel ballad “Open My Eyes,” would be suitable for use as congregational praise and worship songs. Others, like the live performance of “Do You Love the Lord,” combine contemporary R&B melodies with  traditional gospel call and response by Pugh and the choir to deliver and energetic performance.  Another live number, “All The Ways of You,” is an old-timey hip-slapper that draws on gospel’s common history with the blues.

There is a great deal of diversity in gospel music today. Fans can hear troubadours who draw on the production techniques of contemporary R&B and hip-hop to craft intensely personal stories of the struggles the face and the triumphs they experience during their faith walk. Others find inspiration in the old landmarks laid by their musical predecessors. My Purpose is an example of the latter, and the fans of traditional gospel will find comfort in the album’s clear and understandable message that we need to acknowledge God in all of our thoughts and actions. Recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 
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