Title - 'Songs of Faith'
Artist - Dee Dee Sharp
For those not in the know, Dee Dee Sharp is an American R&B singer, who began her career recording as a backing vocalist in 1961. In 1962 she began a string of successful Billboard Hot 100 Top 10 hits: "Slow Twistin'" (with Chubby Checker) (#3) for which she was uncredited on the label, "Mashed Potato Time" (#2), "Gravy (For My Mashed Potatoes)" (#9), "Ride" (#5) and "Do the Bird" (#10).
Both "Mashed Potato Time" and "Ride" each sold over one million copies, and were awarded gold discs. "Do the Bird" provided her only entry in the UK Singles Chart, where it peaked at #46 in April 1963. In 1967, she married record producer and Philadelphia International co-founder Kenny Gamble (and subsequently began recording under the name Dee Dee Sharp-Gamble) although the couple later divorced in 1980.
Now she is back via ABKCO Music & Records, Inc. with a newly-rereleased Songs of Faith album. Having now listened to this CD twice through, and not knowing about Ms. Sharp beforehand, I can honestly say that Dee Dee Sharp is one fine singer who deserves to have album's like this see the light of day once again. Especially given that it's now been 54 years since she released Songs of Faith!
Brilliant orchestrations surround a voice that defies description straight from the off with this collection of twelve tracks composed of early gospel hymns, spiritual blessings, and even rumblings of country, the stirring 'Peace In The Valley' (Thomas A. Dorsey) is up first. That's followed by the slower 'He', the known-throughout bounce of 'He's Got The Whole World In His Hands', the Choir-backed 'I Believe', and then both the gentle sway of 'Vaya Con Dios', and then the anthemic, and also now uber well known 'You'll Never Walk Alone'.
The gospel-inspired 'It Is No Secret (What God Can Do)' is next, and is backed by the 'We'll Walk Together', a track that allows Sharp's voice to truly soar. The more grounded ballad 'Heavenly Father' is next, and is followed by the fast, countrified ditty 'Up Hill'.
Sharp even gets to sing a Broadway song, in the shape of the immense 'Climb Every Mountain' from The Sound of Music. And she does it with style to spare, for Sharp's rich, lush, and on some occasions even powerful voice moves through each selection here with confidence and grace. Add the lush orchestration that backs her at every turn, inclusive of the last track, 'I'll Make You Mine' and this CD is a must have for all fans of female singers who, simply put, need to be heard more of today.
To bring you up to date on the lady her, Dee Dee Sharp still attends Philadelphia’s Third Eternal Baptist Church where Eubie Gilbert, her grandfather, served as pastor when she was a child and vividly recollects the Songs of Faith sessions. “Most of these were done in one or just a few takes. I love singing with live orchestras and I’d been singing most of these songs for my whole life so it was easy.”
She continued, “Singing gospel has always been my heart’s desire and while this album isn’t ‘gut gospel,’ I love these songs. I sang ‘Climb Every Mountain’ at my Junior High School graduation from Thomas Fitzsimons Junior High and my grandfather was there. I remember him in the audience just beaming."
Also, this new edition of Songs of Faith includes insightful liner notes by Gayle Wald, Professor of English and American Studies at George Washington University and author of Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock–and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe.
The album had been out of print and is now be available once again as ABKCO Records has released this reissue on October 21st, 2016 on CD and in digital formats.