The New Converted Voices
New Day – Live in Tupelo, MS (2014)
By Bob Marovich
“You may have come in with your head hung down, but you go ahead and lift it up and smile.”
This is how the New Converted Voices opens the title track of their new album, New Day – Live in Tupelo, MS. The quartet is speaking about the uplifting power of Jesus, but the comment can also mean their confidence in the uplifting power of their live performance.
The New Converted Voices are a contemporary quartet from Tupelo that blends old-school religious wisdom, traditional quartet melodies and rhythms, and hard-singing leads with silky smooth harmonies and modern instrumentation. As such, the group is evocative of other modern quartets such as Darrell McFadden & the Disciples, the Golden Wings (also from Tupelo), and Lee Williams & the Spiritual QCs, who took the New Converted Voices on the road with them when they were just starting out.
The album was recorded in front of a congregation at White Hill Missionary Baptist Church in Tupelo, where Rev. Jeffrey Daniel is pastor. The quartet works the church with a combination of slow- and fast-paced songs, and an extended driving vamp on the nostalgic “What A Time.” The bluesy “Turn It Over” quotes the Old and New Testament in its message of surrender to the Lord’s will, and even makes tongue-in-cheek modern references to Dr. Oz and Dr. Phil. They bring in Lisa Knowles, the Princess of Quartet, to sing the Passion on “I Call Him Jesus.”
“Old Time Religion” is the album’s highlight, for it best articulates the quartet’s penchant for mixing the traditional, hip-slapping quartet style with the modern and urbane.
As always, producer Ray Braswell Jr. ensures a proper balance between voices and music so the harmonies and lead singing are crisp and not muddied by the instrumentation.
Organized in 1989 and now led by Calvin Brown and Tobie Branch, the New Converted Voices have been nominated for, and have won, Rhythm of Gospel Awards in the past couple of years. Their live album is an excellent example of their performance capabilities.
Four of Five Stars
Picks: “Old Time Religion.”