Minister Greg Harris Live – Your Worst is Over and Your Best is Yet to Come

Minister Greg Harris – Live
Your Worst is Over and Your Best is Yet to Come
Sabbath Day Records 2009
www.sabbathdayrecords.com

I first heard Minister Greg Harris of Little Rock, Arkansas sing last week when he opened one of the morning sessions of the Gospel Announcers Guild/GMWA meeting in Cincinnati with a congregational gospel song. He whipped that song into a heady froth, too, converting the conference room, if only for a few magical moments, into a little wooden church.

That’s basically what Minister Harris brings to his live album, Your Worst is Over and Your Best is Yet to Come. Recorded at Little Rock’s Holy Temple COGIC in front of his hometown crowd (TBGB friend Lady Donna Creer was in the audience), the album finds Harris delivering a decent performance, backed by strong background singers and musicians.

The album opener is “What Did You Bring,” a standard “get in the praise mood” number with an island feel during the instrumental interlude. Next is a stretched-out, heavily retooled version of “Just a Little Talk with Jesus” during which Harris lets loose the full potential of his vocal abilities, accompanied by fantastic gospel piano, courtesy of Frank Ray, Jr. or possibly Harris himself. “Halelujah” is a moody, jazz influenced opus on the need for uplift during a time of personal loss.

Harris is not the only featured soloist on the album. A couple of the female singers give the Minister an excellent run for his money. Linda Williams, for example, discharges Aretha-like blue notes and stratospheric runs on “Someday,” Harris’ first original composition and one accepted in the GMWA’s New Music Seminar for 1989. Evangelist Venita Brown gets deliciously soulful on the title track.

Not all of the soloists are of equal skill, and there are a few rough spots mid-project, but that’s part of the live gospel music experience.

The album’s high point is “These Men Are Not Drunk.” No, this song has nothing to do with a breathalyzer test but rather about people intoxicated by the presence of the Holy Ghost in their lives. Shonna Brown is stunning as she takes home this neo-traditional Baptist congregational song, which combines high energy choral singing with the addictive repetition of a quartet workout.

The playing times of a couple songs, as listed on the liner notes, are off by a country mile, but overall, Minster Greg Harris’ live project — ten of eleven songs coming from his own pen — is worth a listen.

Three of Five Stars

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.