Many prolific praise and worship leaders were raised up and taught by their parents through church activities. On the other hand, Kurt Carr took a slightly different avenue. Though he grew up with high morals, his family rarely set foot in church. When his family moved to another neighborhood, a teenage Carr decided to visit a church right next to their house. This insightful move opened the doors for Carr’s career to touch others with God’s Word. His mother followed up by supplying the then fourteen-year old with music by The Hawkins Family and other gospel greats. From there, Carr’s sheer diligence in studying music theory, playing piano for Andre Crouch and learning ministry pointers as music director for one of gospel music’s pioneers, Dr.
James Cleveland, led to a fruitful career spanning six albums and generated uplifting hits like “In the Sanctuary,” “For Every Mountain” and “The Presence of the Lord is Here.” Carr’s commitment and strong reputation as a music minister eventually brought Carr full circle, as he earned the James Cleveland Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2013 Stellar Awards.
Five years removed from his last project, Just the Beginning, Carr and his longtime group, The Kurr Carr Singers, releases Bless This House, a true labor of love that reflects his songwriting growth and maturing ministry. Bless This House is full of vocal blessings, from the group’s colorful and resonating tones to the soloists’ heartfelt declarations.
Driven and supported by the chorus’s confident voices, Judith McAllister’s thunderous reading of Psalm 150 is a proper introduction of this 2-CD set. The equally majestic, “Let Everything That Has Breath,” accelerates listeners’ entry into the throne room. Carr’s emphatic gospel approach is represented with a title track that hints of his classic, “The Presence of the Lord is Here.” The latest from Carr’s hit catalog, “I’ve Seen Him Do It,” is highlighted by the testimony of his mother recovering from terminal cancer. Troy Bright’s fervent tenor embodies another possible Carr hit-in-the-making, “Touched by The Power of Grace.”
The old-school accented pieces are also quite inviting. “We Cannot Be Silent (Psalm 34)” incorporates a taste of “My Soul Loves Jesus,” and is capped by Lorraine Stancil-Lawson’s stunning vocal range, from a baritone to soprano. The richness of “I’ve Got So Much” delivers classical ebb and flows, and “Amen” pays homage to Carr’s godmother, traditional gospel legend Albertina Walker.
Occasionally, Carr and KCS stray from their comfort zone and it pays off. The Kirk Franklin-esqe “It’s A Good Day” shows off a more relaxed groove with Carr’s willingness to make fun of himself as the “second Kurt.” “Always Covering Me” dips into some light techno beats, yet Carr and KCS never compromise their signature vocal quality.
Besides the top-notch vocal talent and satisfactory mix of arrangements, Carr mostly steers Bless This House away from unnecessary filler vocal and instrumental passages to pump up the congregation – a danger area for some other live praise and worship experiences. With Bless This House, Kurt Carr demonstrates that he has come a mighty long way since those adolescent days when he took those first tentative solo steps into church; a very long way indeed. Highly Recommended.
By Peggy Oliver