Title: My Soul Says Yes
Artist: Chicago Mass Choir
Label: New Haven
Formats: CD, Digital
Release date: July 31, 2020
There’s truly no sound like that of the gospel mass choir and the Chicago Mass Choir embodies the very spirit and essence of this tradition. With thrilling heart thumping, hand clapping, foot stomping songs, the choir takes you back to the “old time way,” to quote the late Bishop G.E. Patteson (former presiding Bishop of the Church of God in Christ denomination). My Soul Says Yes, the choir’s 17th album release, continues this legacy through their creation of songs that further their mission of giving back to their community and the world.
The Chicago Mass Choir was founded in 1988 at the Ecclesiastes Community Choir (ECC) Music Workshop at Kennedy-King College by James C. Chambers. A visionary leader, Chambers crossed denominational barriers in the organization of this collective, “enhanc[ing] the performance quality and music administration of gospel music while uniting many of the city’s choirs, community organizations, musicians, songwriters, and soloists.” In 1994, Chambers was succeeded by founding member and featured soloist, Dr. Feranda Williamson, who has led the group through seventeen albums and multiple hits, such as “Jesus Promised” and “God is My Everything.”
My Soul Says Yes opens with the duo title track, “My Soul Says Yes/I Say Yes to My Lord,” that ushers in the soundscape of a Black Pentecostal or Baptist church “taking us in,” a vernacular term used to describe the demonstrative behavioral effects that gospel music (done right) projects in its listeners. With Felicia Welch on lead vocals, the track succeeds beyond measure. This is followed by “Excellent Is Your Name,” a song that exclaims God’s goodness reflecting the hymn “What a Mighty God We Serve.” “Take Me Back” features the sound of the Hammond organ, which accompanies the choir in a way that tugs on the soul while floating over the strong declarative lyrics, “Take me back to the place where I first saw the light…”
With the soulful force of a traditional gospel choir and a heart filled with Praise & Worship, the Chicago Mass Choir will take you straight to church and their music will make your “Soul Say Yes.”
Reviewed by Bobby E. Davis Jr.