Spirit Rising, Vol. 2: Inspirational [Columbia]

This second volume in a series of gospel collections by Mathew Knowles' Music World Music imprint through Columbia Records is a good compilation of contemporary gospel performed fervently by a variety of performers. Knowles is the manager of contemporary R&B group Destiny's Child and father of its lead singer, Beyoncé Knowles, and this association is the linchpin of his musical empire. But he has also made a commitment to gospel music that includes gospel recordings by Destiny's Child member Michelle Williams. The first volume of the series contained music in a more traditional vein, but this one has a distinct hip-hop edge. Tracks like Ramiyah's "I Told" sound like contemporary R&B, except that the message is more religious than romantic. (A female quartet, Ramiyah has a full-length album on Music World Music scheduled.) Destiny's Child guests on two tracks and fits right in. At times, it's easy to forget that the intentions here are spiritual with all the programming and wailing. But Mary Mary's "Somebody," borrowed from their 2000 Thankful album, is a winner, and so is the "Shout It From the Mountain Mix" of Earth, Wind & Fire's "Burnin' Bush" from their 1976 Spirit album. ~ William Ruhlmann

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