With their fourth, most fiery and well-rounded CD to date, Akron, Ohio’s Half Mile Home – a powerhouse contemporary gospel vocal trio with an urban twist – has officially arrived with the electrifying 12-song offering, Don’t Judge Me (proudly released via the local independent companies Church Boy Muzik, Inc. & Black Smoke Music World Wide, aka Kerry Douglas). Members Terence “Buttons” Burton, Darryl “Deaken” Brownlee and Todd Burton have taken their time to insure that every song indelibly speaks to hearts and souls – showing compassion for each other on Earth, and looking to Jesus for the mercy and salvation people desperately need in today’s trying times. Filled with six new songs, three remixes of the already popular gems “Anything” (featuring April Nevels), “Paid” (featuring Lejeune Thompson) and “So Good,” plus two numbers taken from galvanizing live performances, Don’t Judge Me reveals 360 degrees of the trio’s anointed talent for illuminating the awesome message of God. Their songs are relevant and righteous for today’s young generation…and beyond.
Half Mile Home’s previous third CD, Church Muzik & Inspiration, reached #13 on Billboard’s Gospel sales Chart in 2013. It did so on the wings of the inspirational single “Change My Life” which reached the Top 10 of the Gospel radio chart. Following decades of ups and downs that saw the group shift from being R&B singers 1-900 (signed to SOLAR Records in the early `90s and produced by Devante’ Swing of Jodeci) then as After the Rain (sharing stages across the country with Anita Baker, Ginuwine and the late, great Gerald Levert) to making the commitment to strictly pursue Gospel music and change their name to Half Mile Home with the 2004 Malaco Records release, The Movement, the trio made a significant hard-earned breakthrough with ”Change My Life.” This included a heart-stopping performance of heartfelt co-leads and core-rattling harmonies on the BET Sunday platform program “Bobby Jones Gospel,” documented for all-time.
The lead single of Don’t Judge Me is “Breakthrough,” a hooky sing-along wedded to a hard handclap track. “The message is to keep the faith,” Todd states. “God will uplift you and turn your life around…but you have to believe.” The touching video reveals a wheelchair-bound woman receiving the miracle of walking again.
The follow-up single for Spring/Summer 2015, “More Than Enuff” (penned by Ready Writa and produced by Todd & Khyre Tyler), is crossover-bound praise graced with warm vocal harmonies and a piano-driven pulse of pride.
On a completely different sonic and lyrical tip is the beautiful piano ballad “You Are.” “As soon as I heard the music, the words just came to me,” Buttons says of his brother’s moving track. “The song is a testament of who we are as Christian men, expressing our love for our Lord and Savior. One might think it’s a song for your wife but it’s about the personal relationship we have with Jesus Christ.” Equally touching is the haunting “Call Your Name” with its digital sound effects and bluesy guitar ambience. “All of the songs take me on a journey,” Todd muses, “but ‘Call Your Name’ is special. It says that in good times and bad – whether rich or poor – my love and need for God always remains the same.”
Most moving for Darryl is “Show Love,” the song that best reflects the sentiment of the album’s title Don’t Judge Me as it pertains to never really knowing what the people you meet day in/day out may be going through at any given time. “I’m not much big on writing but ‘Show Love’ says you never know who you could be a blessing to today. So many are out here struggling… Sometimes it’s easy to judge but everyone needs to show love or be shown love – giving and receiving.”
Beyond the bright lights and concert stages, Half Mile Home and Church Boy Muzik are showing love this year in an extra poignant way: by sponsoring a fundraising program to support the needs of children afflicted with Autism. “Because our parents and family members opened their homes to kids with Autism, it’s been a part of our life for 15 to 20 years,” Buttons shares. “We love them like they are our own. One is about to graduate high school. Through God’s grace and mercy, we are now able to do more financially to help find a cure.”
Upstanding gentlemen with entrepreneurial businesses that serve their communities well beyond the music, Half Mile Home also brings a bubbly sense of humor out on the road with them. “When we come to your city – let it be known – we do expect to eat some good chicken and fried green tomatoes,” Buttons shouts. “This year we also intend to get outside the country and make new friends from Japan to Ireland…`cuz leprechauns love The Lord, too!”
If you miss Half Mile Home promoting Don’t Judge Me in concert, you can always catch them Sunday morning at the Macedonia Baptist Church back home in Akron. “What we do every Sunday morning is more important than anything. People come to church searching for answers. They want to hear Jesus but they need to see him, too…and they can see him in you. Jesus gave Half Mile Home that glow. And we do mean to let it shine on the people.”