After a decade auspiciously in the background, Myron Butler has finally moved front and center. As a talented songwriter and producer who has worked on some the most important Gospel albums of the past several years, Butler has established his importance among Gospel singers and musicians. And with the release of his debut album, Set Me Free, Butler's name should become well known with listeners, too.
EMIGospel has done a good job during the past couple of years of signing and spotlighting talented artists, such as Antonio Neal, who have spent years supporting others and are ready for their time up front. And Myron Butler is another great addition who is poised for the spotlight.
Dallas native Butler began writing Gospel songs as a teenager and had his first song recorded by the Dallas DFW Mass Choir, whose talented young choir director befriended Butler. That friendship would develop into a great working relationship later on, when that young choir director -- Kirk Franklin -- became the biggest star in the Gospel world.
After high school, Butler went on to attend Morehouse College in Atlanta, but returned to Dallas to become the choir director of DFW, then renamed God's Property, and began working again with Franklin. From there things took off. God's Property recorded 1997's biggest Gospel album, a multi-platinum disc with Franklin that included the across-the-board smash "Stomp." Butler also became a sought-after songwriter and producer, creating hits for artists such as Kim Burrell, Smokie Norful and Twinkie Clark.
Butler's success working with others ultimately led him to sign with EMI Gospel to record his own debut album, Set Me Free, with his new vocal group, Levi. Released in November 2005, Set Me Free certainly evidences Franklin's influence on Butler, particularly on the ballad "Everything." But Butler creates his own blend of R&B and Gospel on the disc, relying on fewer hip-hop influences than Franklin and establishing an energetic wall of sound (horns, organ and choir), especially on the opening cuts "That Place" and "I Can." He follows those two strong songs with the infectious, rhythmic title cut, a masterpiece that is one of the year's best Gospel songs. Most of the rest of the disc consists of well written ballads, the best of which is the excellent plea for humility and faithfulness, "Heal the Land." Set Me Free really doesn't have a bad cut, and reveals more of Butler's strong work with repeated listenings. It also successfully makes public one of Gospel music's secrets - that Myron Butler is one of the genre's greatest talents.
In 2007, Butler readied his sophomore disc, Stronger, on EMI Gospel.
By Chris Rizik