Various Artists - Oh Happy Day (2009)

Various Artists
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The album Oh Happy Day is a testament to the universality of gospel music. The roots of every form of American popular music can be traced to the spirituals and sacred songs that originated in the antebellum plantations of the American South or the hills of Appalachia. Keeping that in mind, it's not surprising to hear the rock band 3 Doors Down collaborate with the Soul Children of Chicago on the song "The Presence of the Lord."

The founding members of 3 Doors down grew up in Mississippi, so they are familiar with the kind of ensemble gospel singing perfected by the Soul Children. Besides, rock legend Eric Clapton wrote the song. Still a lot of church folk might be surprised when they hear how good the rockers and the gospel choir sound together. Like wise the Soul Children have a history of working with secular acts.

The album Oh Happy Day is a testament to the universality of gospel music. The roots of every form of American popular music can be traced to the spirituals and sacred songs that originated in the antebellum plantations of the American South or the hills of Appalachia. Keeping that in mind, it's not surprising to hear the rock band 3 Doors Down collaborate with the Soul Children of Chicago on the song "The Presence of the Lord."

The founding members of 3 Doors down grew up in Mississippi, so they are familiar with the kind of ensemble gospel singing perfected by the Soul Children. Besides, rock legend Eric Clapton wrote the song. Still a lot of church folk might be surprised when they hear how good the rockers and the gospel choir sound together. Like wise the Soul Children have a history of working with secular acts.

That's really the story of this album - collaborations that appear to be a stretch. However, scratch the surface just a little bit and each pairing makes sense. Take the collaboration of Mavis Staples and Patty Griffin on "Waiting For My Child To Come Home." Staples is world famous dating back to her days singing with The Staples Singers. She has also worked with Curtis Mayfield, Bob Dylan and Ludacris. Griffin is not a household name, but vocalist and guitarist's roots in the folk, Americana and country genres makes her pairing with Staples a perfect one. Staples soulful vocals find their balance in Griffin's vocals. The two play off each other in a cal and response sort of singing that has the stated purpose of showing that blues and country are cousins.

The same can be said of the rollicking version of  "The Storm Before the Calm" performed by Michael McDonald and the West Angeles COGIC Choir. McDonald has the chops to match the soulfulness and energy of a choir that probably backs singers as talented as the former Doobie Brother on a weekly basis.

We like to say that music is the universal language. However, the way the suits market music could easily lead one to believe that the genres are walls erected to separate listeners by demographic factors such as race, age, geography and religion. A project such as Oh Happy Day serves to proves the truth of the statement that what unites us is greater than the things that divides us. Highly recommended.

By Howard Dukes

 

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