Riverside SDA Church
The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion
G.Favored Entertainment Group/DREAM Gospel/
Capitol Christian Distribution
By Bob Marovich
While gospel music is most often associated with Baptist and Pentecostal/Holiness churches, the Black Seventh Day Adventist Church, as just about all African American denominations by this point, has embraced the rhythm of gospel music.
Riverside SDA in Nashville is no different. Founded in 1945, the church has grown from 26 members to a congregation that fills a sizable sanctuary on the banks of the Cumberland River. The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion is a two-CD set that offers a hefty sampling of the church’s music and spoken-word ministries.
The dozen songs on the CD are mostly megachurch-sized P&W buoyed by an accomplished choir whose spit-polished harmonies are augmented by an impressive roster of guest soloists. Just looking at the list of soloists gives the listener a sense of what to expect.
By far the most moving moment on the Music CD is “Be Still.” It is the late Lecresia Campbell’s final recorded solo and has an earnestness that lingers long after the disc stops spinning. Go-to soloist Michelle Prather’s explosive solo on the minor keyed “Sacrifice of Praise” makes one wonder if anyone else could ever attempt to do the song better than she can.
Other songs are led by the likes of Earnest Pugh (“In the Presence”), Maurice Griffin (“I Love to Love You”), San Franklin-Jackson (“Psalm 63”), and Benita Washington, whose smart reading of “I Am Clean” weaves in lyrics from “There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.”
The second CD contains a dozen Biblical reflections associated with each of the song selections. The devotions, delivered by a handful of male and female ministers, vary from warm and humorous to serious and inspirational. They average two-and-a-half to three minutes each (some venture into the five-minute mark). Bookended by snippets of the song associated with the reflection, each track is designed as an interstitial for Christian radio programs.
The Riverside Project – Music & Devotion is produced with verve by GRAMMY and Dove Award nominee Roger Ryan as well as Chad Hammonds and Melvin “Maestro” Lightford. For P&W enthusiasts, the album will hit the spot, and for deep gospel fans like me, “Be Still” and “Sacrifice of Praise” are the real treats.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Be Still,” “Sacrifice of Praise.”