Grammy®, Stellar, and Dove-award nominated singer Anita Wilson keeps Urban Contemporary music alight with her unparalleled fusion of Gospel and Soul music. First finding recognition as part of the Grammy-award nominated ensemble Donald Lawrence & Co., Wilson’s beeline to the solo stage – via her debut album Worship Soul– came as a celebrated breakthrough. Recognized by the New York Times’ Ben Ratliff as one of “2012’s top ten albums” across all genres, Worship Soul wielded the memorable hits “Jesus Will” and “Speechless” and introduced the masses to Wilson as a new frontrunner for Urban Contemporary Gospel.
Her sophomore album, VINTAGE WORSHIP, follows in its predecessor’s stead by unveiling a collection of masterfully crafted tunes with ingredients of classic gospel, funk, soul, pop, and R&B. Citing gospel greats such as The Hawkins, The Clark Sisters and The Winans as musical influences for the album, Wilson also drew from a well of R&B/Soul favorites like Eddie Kendricks, Lalah Hathaway, Chaka Khan, George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, Evelyn Champagne King and many more to create a melting pot of sounds.
From the moment listeners press play it becomes quickly evident that they are about to be lifted into a high-spirited inspirational session piloted by the soulful singer herself. Greeting listeners with the piano-laced “Close To You”, the personal song opens the album by putting Anita’s voice and testimony in its rightful place – front and center. The tune shines in its simplicity while cleverly setting the tone for an unforgettable worship experience.
Barely a blink after the subdued “Close To You” draws to a close, the album blasts full speed ahead with brass instruments that line “That’s What He’s Done For Me.” Paying homage to gospel legends Andraé Crouch and Milton Brunson and the Thompson Community Singers (“The Tommies”), the foot-stomping, toe-tapping tune is the appointed first single fromVINTAGE WORSHIP. A colorful collage of energetic bass licks, thunderous guitar riffs, and live horns, their powerful performance on the tune is only outdone by the song’s uplifting lyrics about how good God has truly been.
The presence of bold horns is a mainstay aboard VINTAGE WORSHIP, as evidenced by songs “So Gone”, “You Love Me (Best of My Love)”, and the aptly titled “Gooder Than Good.” Elsewhere, “You Love Me” magnetizes with its instantly recognizable interpolation of The Emotions’ 1977 hit “Best of My Love”. In keeping true to the album’s throwback theme, “You Love Me”, even in its groove-tinged splendor, interestingly never overshadows Wilson’s true intent – ministry.
Anita has never shied from the desire to use her gift as a means to proclaim her love for God and, of course, his love for us. To ensure this message remains a focal point, VINTAGE WORSHIP skillfully enlists a host of enchanting ballads like “Everything (Definition of a Friend)”, “The Real Me”, and the ever-soulful “Keep Doing What You’re Doing.” A lush number layered with a 80s/90’s-inspired instrumental, airtight harmonies, and Anita’s supple alto, “Keep Doing” captivates as a standout track from the album by its pomp and polish alone.
VINTAGE WORSHIP also shines with its impressive list of guest artists. Found on the album’s touching numbers “Time After Time” (Anaysha Figueroa Cooper), “Reasons (Don’t Take Your Love Away) ” (Tommy Sims), and a sure to be fan favorite “Oh How I Love Jesus”. A clear nod to the project’s vintage theme, Anita calls on R&B singer/songwriter Avery Sunshine and the renowned Bishop Yvette Flunder to assist in launching the beloved hymn to a modernized, new pedestal of praise. By the tune’s end, the listener can’t help but be enthralled by the session.
For the album’s closing track, Wilson’s “Happy Being Me” written by Angie Stone from Donald Lawrence’s Law of Confession album that was led by Wilson, is full of energetic horns that deliver a festive blend of instrumentation. An up-tempo ode to self-appreciation, the song’s lyrics lend a reminder of how important it is to love who God created us to be as individuals. Anita presents a fresh upbeat rendition of the anthem to encourage self-love and placing a high value on self-worth.
VINTAGE WORSHIP weaves a sonic journey through the decades. A refreshing perspective on the marriage of music and ministry has undoubtedly been what’s kept Anita Wilson’s name in mention with the top of today’s new generation of gospel stars. And, if the collection of tunes that fill VINTAGE WORSHIP is any indication, it is well deserved.