JONATHAN LANDRUM Jr.
Hezekiah Walker, "Azusa: The Next Generation" (RCA/Verity Records)
It seems like a celebration of faithful endurance on Hezekiah Walker's 14th album, "Azusa: The Next Generation."
The Grammy- and Stellar Award-winning singer, along with the famed Love Fellowship Choir, has put together a collection of uplifting praise and worship songs that should please the soul. The topics of maintaining faith and overcoming life's obstacles are familiar, but musically the songs have fresh feel, thanks to the album's stellar production by Donald Lawrence and Walker.
Walker also collaborates with some of gospel's best on the 10-track set: Timiney Figueroa-Caton is powerful on "More Than a Conqueror," Brian Courtney Wilson croons nicely on the mid-tempo tune "Grace" and on "Amazing," Stephanie Fisher Oplacio's vocals soar on the standout track.
Other guests include Deitrick Haddon, John P. Kee and Donnie McClurkin, who provides hope on "Breakthrough."
Walker doesn't sing much. But he plays an influential role on his new project as the co-writer, co-producer and the central voice that continually galvanizes the 200-member mass choir with his encouraging song introductions and inspiring words.
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