by Nona N. Allen
Special to The New Tri-State Defender
Traditional Memphis gospel music has a particular sound. It is not the hip slappin' sound of Mississippi or the large choir sound of Chicago. It is a sound that is almost indescribable.
It's the reassuring and inspirational sound of a Bishop G.E. Patterson. It is the overwhelming holiness of a Dr. William Herbert Brewster. This is the traditional Memphis gospel music sound.
June 19 (2012) marked a change in the traditional Memphis gospel music sound. The turning point was the nation-wide release of "The Gospel of Memphis" by the Key of D. Producers David Gillard and Marque Walker (Key of D) gathered a montage of Memphis gospel artists such as Darrel Pettis, Lisa Knowles, Markevius Faulkner and Courtney Little to break new ground.
Songs on the project range from tributes to hip-slappin' quartet gospel, to jazzy, to bluesy, to R&B, to contemporary gospel. One of the most refreshing cuts is Little's "I Just Love to Praise Him," which immediately brought to mind thoughts of Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers.
Walker said there was a method to the selection process. "We chose the artists and gave them the song that would stretch them and their gifts," he said.
Variety was the goal of the album said Walker and Gilliard – producers who have worked with gospel artists nationwide. The album also reflects the duo's desire to work with artists from their hometown.
"We needed to put Memphis gospel on the national scene," said Gilliard. "We have not had a nationally known artist since (Olanda) Draper."
"The Gospel of Memphis" is on the DMG label, owned by Mr. Del, a former member of Three Six Mafia. The project is available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play and Zune.