Sheree Brown - Messages from the Heart (2013)

Sheree Brown
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Listeners with memories of the early 1980 era R&B will notice something when listening to Messages From the Heart, the latest recording by Sheree Brown. Brown’s vocals sound pretty much the way they did 30 plus years ago. Perhaps Brown’s voice is a little deeper at the bottom. Still, I’d believe someone who told me that Messages From the Heart was the follow up to Brown’s 1981 album Straight Ahead and 1982’s The Music. The former recording earned Brown her first and biggest hit, the whimsical “You’ll Be Dancing All Night.”
 
Brown had a presence in the music industry before “You’ll Be Dancing All Night” hit the airwaves.
Listeners with memories of the early 1980 era R&B will notice something when listening to Messages From the Heart, the latest recording by Sheree Brown. Brown’s vocals sound pretty much the way they did 30 plus years ago. Perhaps Brown’s voice is a little deeper at the bottom. Still, I’d believe someone who told me that Messages From the Heart was the follow up to Brown’s 1981 album Straight Ahead and 1982’s The Music. The former recording earned Brown her first and biggest hit, the whimsical “You’ll Be Dancing All Night.”
 
Brown had a presence in the music industry before “You’ll Be Dancing All Night” hit the airwaves. Brown wrote three songs on Patrice Rushen’s 1978 album Patrice. Brown also co-wrote “Haven’t You Heard,” Rushen’s first Top 10 hit. Long time friend and creative collaborator Rushen is one of the artists who worked with Brown on Messages From the Heart. That roster also includes the great Leon Ware. The Messages From the Heart project also drew in many of Brown’s family members, including her two children and her sister.
 
Describing Messages From the Heart as a project is accurate because the 14-track CD is just one aspect of what Brown seeks to accomplish. The album has a companion book that tells the inspirational stories of nine women. Brown’s sister Celeste created the cover art.  The album and book provide an insight into what became part of Brown’s life and mission for the last three decades. Brown is a wife and mother who also works to empower girls and women while playing more of a behind the scenes role in the music industry, although she continued writing and recording her own music.
 
It’s likely that Brown has seen every aspect of the music industry over the last 30 plus years. Yet, the same optimism that permeated “You’ll Be Dancing All Night” is present in Messages From the Heart. It doesn’t get any more positive and uplifting than “On The Other Side of Through.” The track is a bit of life affirming therapy disguised as a dance track. “The Other Side of Through” serves as a victory lap for those who emerged from a crisis victorious – or at the very least with their dignity and integrity intact.
 
The title track is an eloquent plea to encourage women and girls to pursue the dreams and desires that they many dare not express. “How will life turn out/Do you ever wonder/ever judge a book/by its cover/It’s what inside that makes us who we are.”
 
Brown displays her storytelling chops on the soulful “Love Is Forever.” The ballad tells the story of a hard working man who, during quiet moments at the dinner table and while laying in bead - looks back with appreciation on the life that he built with and for his wife. “Love is Forever” and “I Think I’m Gonna Pray” are two cuts that reveal how the years of being and active participant in life have sharpened Brown’s observational and song writing skills.
 
Messages From the Heart includes two numbers that Brown envisions as party songs. The opening track, “Time For the Party,” finds Brown getting ready to go out on the town. “Getting’ Started” places Brown on the floor encouraging people to get up and dance. Neither one of these tunes would be considered club bangers. I can see Messages From the Heart being played at a party. However, the setting will likely be a intimate affair such as a cookout or some other gathering where Brown’s engaging music and some good food fuel conversation, laughter and maybe some dancing. I’ve had some of the best times of my life at that kind of party. Recommended
 
By Howard Dukes 
 
Choice Cut - Maysa - "Lovin' You Is Easy"

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