Tonya Lewis Taylor
I’ve Got to Win (EP)
EARS Music Group
(release date: August 2, 2016)
By Bob Marovich
In 2015, Rhythm of Gospel Award winner Tonya Lewis Taylor landed on the Billboard Top Gospel Singles chart with “Thank You.” She’s done it again just recently with her latest single, “I’m a Winner.”
Both selections are on I’ve Got to Win, a five-track EP she released in August.
“I know the race has not been won, because I’m still running,” Taylor, a former background singer for pop artists and one-time publicist for Roc-a-Fella Records, announced to the audience on her 2014 album, Delayed But Not Denied. The title track and the head-bobbing “I’m a Winner” could easily be follow ups to that comment, and to the title of her album, for that matter.
Both songs fit squarely within the current trend of lyrics with positive affirmations, which has played no small role in their chart success. People need a not-so-gentle reminder to remain true to their dreams, especially in today’s smack-down society. Taylor is that friend who doesn’t pity you when times are toughest but instead urges you to get up and take charge, snap out of it, and believe that what God has for you is yours.
Possibly because of her experience as a background singer, Taylor has the effusive voice of a torch singer, which she demonstrates amply and with great passion on the title track. The album’s sweetest moments come, however, during the beautiful and intimate “You Loved Me More and More.” Taylor sings this love song to God with only a gentle classical guitar for background. As a minimalist, I believe some of the very best gospel music comes from solo voice and instrument.
Musical dissection aside, cheers to Tonya Lewis Taylor, who has been living the sometimes up, sometimes down life of an independent gospel artist, and deserves every single bit of the encouragement that chart ranking and industry honors provide.
Three of Five Stars
Pick: “You Loved Me More and More”