Some call him Professor, and that would be correct (for he teaches music at UCLA). Others know him as the CEO of the successful West Coast based JDI Records, responsible for releasing hits from everyone from Beverley Crawford to Norman Hutchins to DeNetria Champ, to UCLA Mass Choir and Margaret Douroux & The Heritage Mass Choir (if you go way back). Still others know him as an award-winning producer.
Now with Everybody Dance!, the chart-topping album from James Roberson, you can also call him an artist.
It’s been a long time coming for this debut recording from Roberson, but the wait has been worth the while. Chock full of songs that hit you from a variety of stylistic approaches, the project is a veritable potpourri of Gospel jams, ranging from ballads to dance-ready jams, from traditional to contemporary.
Right off the bat, the lead single and title track gets you going with its beat-heavy groove and choir support. Roberson is up front, exhorting and telling everybody that “it’s alright to dance in Jesus’ name”. The choir breaks into their respective parts as the song winds down.
On “Revive Us” (and its reprise), jointly produced by Roberson and Michael Bereal, Tisa Willis guests with Roberson on lead vocals amidst a jazz-inflected jam and choir background.
On the ballad tip, “I Wanna Be More” satisfies with its bed of strings and layers of horns, percussion and piano weaving throughout Roberson’s tenor croon. “I’m His Child (aka His Name Is Jesus)” features a simple acoustic piano accompaniment from John Fluker which sets the tone for Roberson’s sensitive vocal phrasing.
Other star cuts on this project include the traditional a cappella (not counting the finger snaps) “Trouble In My Way”, laid down in quartet style, and “Joy Unspeakable”, a fast-paced gospel live-recorded number from the pen of Carnell Murrell that bounces along beside Jonathan Grier’s Voices of Judah choir and some energetic band work.
Call Everybody Dance! another hit album in this season of good gospel music.
Prooduction: James Roberson,Michael Bereal
album release date: Aug, 2009
— review by Stan North –