There is a lot of excitement in the
air about the new CD by the late Tommy Ellison’s former group.
Thus, this month we take a look at Sail On Superstar by
Legendary Singing Stars.
When the Superstar of Gospel Music, Tommy Ellison, died the core musical
foundation of his group remained in place. So, with Dennis Bowers, Big O and Sam
Williams serving as anchors, the guys were able to continue to deliver great
gospel music containing the signature style of
Tommy Ellison and The Singing Stars.
One of the first orders of business was to change the name. Sam and the guys did
not venture to far from the original name. And, having become legends in gospel
music it was an easy, but yet emotional, leap to remove “Tommy Ellison” and just
add “Legendary” to the Singing Stars.
Now just as the guys were once again rising in popularity with a demanding tour
schedule, the rhythm guitar player Dennis Bowers died. Bowers death certainly
challenged the remaining members. But, Big O and Sam were committed to
continuing the legacy of the group’s founder. Thus they regrouped, added a young
talented musician by the name of Justin Mickens, brought back Billie Hardie, and
moved the son of Dennis Bowers, Da’Quan Bowers, into the lineup. Other members
of the group are Antrun “Tron” Sherrills and Raynard Ladson.
Now, Da’Quan is a very talented guitarist. In fact, to many, he sounds just like
his father did on the guitar. His mannerism on stage will certainly remind the
group fans of the late Dennis Bowers. With the addition of Da’Quan the group has
retained their signature sound and style.
Many quartet gospel groups have
tried to carry on after the death of their leader. Most have found it very
difficult to do so. This group has been able to move on after losing their
leader and one of their lead guitar player.
The Legendary Singing Stars
called upon the Producer talents of Spanky Williams and have delivered an
outstanding gospel music CD. The
new CD is fittingly titled Sail On Superstar. The project is in
deed a tribute to The Superstar and to Dennis Bowers. In fact, the title track
was written by Dennis Bowers. His son, Da’Quan, introduces the song on the
CD as a tribute to his father as well as to the late Tommy Ellison.
The CD begins with "Smile On Me." Billie Hardie and the guys
really bring a fresh feel to this song. "Jesus Is Walking With Me" is the
first song that introduces Justin Mickens as song writer. Justin has been around
gospel music all of his young life. His family group is
Rev. Mathew Mickens & The New Highway Travelers.
You may remember that Justin penned and sung “Time Is Short” for
The New Highway Travelers.
There is a 2011 version of "Sailing" on the CD, simply titled "Sailing
2011." If you remember the group’s version of this song from the live
recording, then you will really like the intro to "Sailing 2011."
The group had the foresight to add the vocals of the late Tommy Ellison calling
on the members of the group asking do they “wont a sail?” Then,
Billie takes over and really ‘works’ the song. In this updated version,
Billie calls upon each member of the group. This one will certainly be a
part of the group’s concerts. They will not be able to leave the stage without
driving fans to another level with "Sailing 2011."
"Glory Hallelujah" features Justin on lead vocals. With the encouragement
of Big O and Billie in the background, Justin shows that he belongs with
The Legendary Signing Stars.
This is followed by the one of the ballads on the project – "Calvary."
Billie takes you back to his early days with the original group on this one.
"Feeling Good" is the next track. And, it will have (and leave you)
feeling good. For a group that is know more for their musicians than
background singers, "Feeling Good" showcases their ability to harmonize.
Billie feeds off the background harmony and take the listener to church on this
song. This one will have you hitting the replay button.
"Free At Last" is another ballad on the project. Billie almost turns the
song into a sermonette. His frequent reflections on Tommy and Dennis through the
song make it a perfect addition to this project.
"Keep On Marching" draws upon the experiences of the Civil Rights
Movement. Look for this song to become a staple on broadcasts during Black
History Month. Note however, it is appropriate for what is happening in the
world today. Simply put, “keep on marching, don’t turn around.”
Next on the project is "Singing Stars Medley." Billie calls on
Justin and they take a trip down memory land with "I’m Not The Same Person,"
"I’m Guilty Of Loving God," "I Wont To Be Loved," "Since I Met
Jesus (My Whole Life Has Changed)," "Things I Used To Do," and "Love,
Peace and Happiness." At times during the Medley, Justin sounds just
like Tommy Ellison. However, you immediately get the impression that he’s not
trying to sound like The Superstar. Justin is just a gifted singer and
"Prayer" is the final ballad. Billie previously recorded
this song. Once again, the group gives a very fresh feel to a previously
recorded song. This song also showcases the background harmony of the
group. Listen closely and you will hear Spanky Williams in the background.
The shortest song on the CD is "Somewhere To Lay My Head." At two
(2) minutes and 27 seconds, it is just to short for the musicians. As soon as
the guys get into the drive portion of the song it ends. But, we still like this
updated version of this ever popular song. One reason for the shortness to
the song is that it serves as an intro to the last song on the project - "Holy
Ghost." As expected, the fellows work "Holy Ghost." For
ten (10) minutes and fourteen (14) seconds, Sam, Big O, Da’Quan, Justin, Antrun,
and Raynard perform a gospel quartet drive symphony.
Overall this is an outstanding project by
The Legendary Singing Stars. You should be able to find
this CD in your local record store and online. We give
The Legendary Singing Stars’
Sail On Superstar a 9.5 out of 10. Click
HERE to purchase the CD online. Click on the
title to hear