CD Review: Joe Stevenson & Friends

Joe Stevenson & Friends: “I Had to Wait on Him” (Blessed Man Music, 2004)

Joe “Quarterback” Stevenson – a high school and college gridiron athlete, law enforcement officer, elected official, and musician – passes for far more completions than incompletes on his debut effort, “I Had to Wait on Him.” Stevenson wrote, arranged, and produced all of the songs on the CD. Dr. John R. Adolph, Pastor of the Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in Beaumont, Texas, interjects energetic and inspiring messages to set the mood for a couple of tracks.

Stevenson’s vocal dexterity on “He Won’t” is by far his best performance on the CD, with the chorus ably assisting him throughout the project. Stevenson’s musical conversations with the chorus are reminiscent of James Cleveland’s 1960s dialogues with the Angelic Choir – the marked contrast of staccato, husky vocals leading call-and-response with a largely treble-based chorale (i.e., some of the tenors are women choristers and there are no bass singers in the ensemble).

The outstanding track on the CD is soprano Tonya Johnson’s lovely rendering of “He’s an Awesome God, Yes He Is.” In Part 1, her singing is honey-smooth and contemplative — a voice with which you can easily fall in love — while Part 2 showcases her upper-register and shouting style.

The only fumbles in this otherwise pleasing project are the jarringly complex rhythms of “The Woman at the Well,” and a recurring motive of atonal harmony in “Let’s Save Our Kids.” Overall, however, Joe “Quarterback” Stevenson and Friends’ musical testimonies are authentic and heartfelt.

About Bob Marovich

Bob Marovich is a gospel music historian, author, and radio host. Founder of Journal of Gospel Music blog (formally The Black Gospel Blog) and producer of the Gospel Memories Radio Show.

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