LaShell Griffin - Dreams Are Possible (2008)

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    LaShell Griffin
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    For many believers, the struggle isn't in accepting the Lord or doing right by their fellow man----it's in constantly keeping the faith. A world in so much turmoil demands a lot of patience and perseverence, but what helps is surrounding oneself with positivity.  And the latest CD from contemporary gospel artist, LaShelle Griffin, definitely fits the bill.

    In her four years as a recording artist (remember her winning Oprah Winfrey's Pop Star Challenge competiton in 2004?), Ms. Griffin has sharpened her lyrical skills (she wrote four tracks here, as well as a poem), and her vocals remain as warm and brassy as ever (a cross between Kelly Price and Shirley Murdock). It would take a grouch of the highest order (or with the holidays right around the corner, a Scrooge) to not feel the contagious joy that abounds in R&B-esque numbers like "Live By Faith," "Jesus Said" and the soaring, anthemic title track (penned by her husband Lee), which implores the listeners to move beyond their doubts and setbacks to achieve their goals in life: "there's a champion inside you, waiting to stand tall, so stand up and tell yourself 'I will never, ever be denied.' "

    Not that Ms. Griffin focuses solely on the upside of believing: the funk-infused "I Almost Blew It" shares how her worldy ambitions once took her focus off the Lord, and "This 2 Shall Pass" implores the Heavenly Father to hold her steady as she navigates yet another of life's storms. For the purists in the house, she also offers more traditional, straight-forward gospel fare with "Man From Galilee" and "Because of Your Mercy," tender ballads that fill the heart and soothe the soul. Another unexpected treat is a spirited exchange with her real-life sister, LaTress Thomas, "Sista Talk," where the two wax nostalgic about folks in their past and ask why more women won't try harder to get along these days. "Why must we hate on one another, my brother, my sister? We used to pray for one another..." the siblings sing in "Way Back When," which makes glorious use of their sultry sopranos in the process.

    Dreams Are Possible can get a little treacley at times, but its earnestness and authenticity is refreshing. For those seeking an uplift and enjoy their gospel with a dash of crisp, contemporary flavor,  Ms. Griffin comes highly recommended and will not disappoint.

    By Melody Charles

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