Magnificent God (2013)
By Bob Marovich
The notes from the Hammond B3 sounded like Reveille in the morning fog.
The organ’s beckoning warble at the opening of track six, “I’m Blessed,” was a sign that we were about to hear the “Mama Sue” Roseberry of BET Sunday Best fame, the solid singer who successfully portrayed her inspiration, Mahalia Jackson, on the stage.
That’s not to take away from the handful of songs preceding “I’m Blessed” on Roseberry’s live album, Magnificent God, recorded at the 2013 Gospel Music Workshop of America Board Meeting. They are professionally produced expressions of praise glazed with a smooth jazz patina. This includes the Easter selection and single, “He’s Very Much Alive.” But my attention was piqued starting with the moment the B3 called congregants to attention and Roseberry began singing about the soul satisfaction of attending church for worship and fellowship. When the album made a welcoming turn toward the traditional, I was all in.
From there, the Holy Ghost shouter “Catch on Fire” enables Roseberry to employ her storytelling skills. She moans “Amazing Grace” like a veteran church singer. “Crucified,” another single release, is as dramatic as one might expect, given that Roseberry is joined on the selection by the formidable Kathy Taylor and Texas Mass Choir. Another pewburner, “My God Can Do Anything,” transitions into a praise moment that closes the CD.
If the close is powerful, the album’s opening moment is bittersweet. The late Al “The Bishop” Hobbs introduces Sue Roseberry in his trademark deep voice and smiling enthusiasm.
Sue Roseberry considers her music a bridge between traditional and contemporary, but it’s clear from Magnificent God that her soul shines brightest on the traditional side.
Three of Five Stars
Picks: “I’m Blessed.”