June 19th, 2007
Many artists that make a transition between R&B and gospel music typically begin in the gospel tradition and move into the secular arena where they are able to make more money and experience more pervasive success. Euclid Gray is an exception in that his career began in R&B and moved to gospel following his break up with the group Public Announcement. Started by R. Kelly in 1989, Public Announcement was a Chicago group that experienced mainstream success with such hits as “She’s Got That Vibe,” “Honey Love,” “Slow Dance” and “Dedicated” (1992). Just a year after their debut release, however, R. Kelly left to pursue his solo career which basically dealt the group a death blow. Although Public Announcement has continued to record, it has never equalled the success of its first album. It is unclear when Gray himself parted with the group.
Not only a singer but also an actor, Gray toured with Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Browns” as Reverend Henry Oliver. Determined to break into the gospel domain, Gray’s biography states that he faced many rejections by various record labels. Thankfully for his fans, he did not let disappointment deter him and finally found a home with Malaco.
Unlike his former group member, R. Kelly, whose albums are undeniably secular yet randomly feature heavily influenced gospel tracks, Gray’s solo debut, Father Guide Me, is indubitably a gospel album heavily influenced by his R&B past. Similar in style to gospel artists such as Tonex, Yolanda Adams, and Dietrick Haddon, Gray’s collection of love songs to the Lord is a testimony of his personal relationship with God. The only track on the album that could be considered “preaching” is “Are You A Letter,” which asks its listeners how evident is God’s presence in their life. Further blurring the sacred/secular line while making sure to represent his Chicago roots, “Getcha Step On” is a gospel tune that the Chicago style of dance can be performed to. “Remind Myself” is also a notable song that can be appreciated by many and has enhancements that cause the track to sound as if it is being played on a record.
Although some of the tracks on the album seem to have originally been written as R&B tracks that were then transformed into gospel songs, the formula works for Gray. Primarily produced by Gray himself, Father Guide Me is a soulful and heartfelt registry.
Posted by Brandon Houston
Review Genre(s): Gospel Music and Spirituals