The Brown Singers
Generations: You Can Make It
About twelve years ago a group of ladies was introduced to a national audience by the Memphis based label E&J records. Their 1991 release "Good News" set the stage for their 1998 performances on the E&J Records "Live" compilation project. The group's teenage lead singer affectingly known as "Little Lisa" began her journey leading the Brown Singers all over the country with a song called "Jesus Is Good News". Many of you may be familiar with this Memphis based groups, while for some this review might stand as your first introduction. If that is the case, let me introduce one of the hottest female quartet's on the road today The Brown Singers of Memphis, TN.
While their 1991 release gained them attention the project was not really representative of the group's powerful "Live" performances. Now recording for the Memphis based label Gilliam Records, The Brown Singers have cut what will probably be rated one of the best independent releases of the year 2003. With crisp production and great mixing this project is on the professional level in ever aspect. While the project remains in the quartet category, lead singer Lisa Knowles has continued to develop as a vocalist and shows her vocal ability in fine fashion. In fact her very innovative runs and rifts are a refreshing sound for the industry.
With 13 songs The Brown Singers give you the listener a little peak into their Musical Ministry and I am sure you will agree that the sight and sound is great. While it's always great to hear a great female quartet it's even better to know that the bedrock of the group is made up of 3 generations of strong Christian women. From Mrs. Willie Mae Richmond (Grandmother) to Vanessa Knowles (Daughter) to the youngest member and main lead vocalist Alescia "Lisa" Knowles. These 3 Generations work their magic throughout this release handling all the lead duties.
Now if we had to mention songs that really stand out, their are a few that I must mention. The project actually opens with the title cut "You Can Make It". With this powerful message heavy song Lisa shows her tremendous vocal skills stealing back many of the vocal riffs that R&B has stolen from the Gospel field. The song is laid back and personal and every aspect. Lisa's mother takes the lead duties on the "Good News" influenced "Zion". This song not only rocks with a great groove but shows that the apple does not fall far from the tree.
Other songs of note include the beautiful Lee Williams/George Dean sounding "Work On Me". This song stands tall on it's own merit but boy would it have been perfect if either Mr. Dean or Mr. Williams lent their vocals on it. Well, we've spoken about both mother and daughter but what does the foundation Mrs. Willie Mae Richmond have to say on this project? Sister Richmond offers up a real down home feel on the head bobbing "Shouting Shoes" and the beautiful "Look Over Your Life" to name a few. While most of the songs show the great harmony of this group you really have to hear that recognizable family blend of harmony on "Look Over Your Life".
Songs like the powerful numbers "Never Really Know" and "Take It To Jesus" really shows the group's contemporary consciousness. In fact, this project really is modern in every sense. I commend the Brown Singers for being contemporary while still traditional at the same time. Literally ever spectrum of the quartet industry is displayed in this release. In fact, the group even shows their driving skills on the hard hittin' "Let Me Tell It". Immediately you will be reminded of the Canton Spirituals first Verity release on the "Live At The Apollo" project "When You Wake Up". The heavy bass groove is in place Lisa is out front and the Browns really go to work on this number. The only complaint I have is just when the song really gets hot it fades out.
In conclusion I have to say that this project is by far not for the deeply entrenched traditionalist. While the Browns keep their traditional roots this project is for those on board the quartet train of 2003. In other words the instrumental accompaniment is up to date, the vocals rival any genre or musical style in terms of sound, and the lyrics are full with the Gospel. I give The Brown Singers of Memphis, TN a 9 out of 10. Click HERE to purchase the CD. Click on the red song title to hear "Make Up Your Mind".