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Vanessa Bell Armstrong - A Brand New Day

Vanessa Bell Armstrong - A Brand New Day

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Vanessa Bell Armstrong is back! After a 3-year self-imposed hiatus from recording, Vanessa returns to the gospel music scene with A Brand New Day. A few months ago, at the Bobby Jones Gospelfest, I had a chance to interview her and she told me about signing with Tommy Boy Gospel. She was obviously excited about the new project she was working on and her new label. I couldn’t wait to hear A Brand New Day. It was worth the wait!

But let’s back up a bit. Although she’s been gone from the scene for a few years, Vanessa Bell Armstrong is unforgettable. How could you forget classics she has made famous? A singer since the age of four, she is known for her gut-wrenching, powerhouse type of singing on classics like Peace Be Still, What Shall I Render, Nobody But Jesus and The Denied Stone. She also sang the theme song for the television sitcom “Amen” and starred in the Broadway smash musical, “Don’t Get God Started”. Raised in the same Detroit church congregation as gospel greats Andrae Crouch, Walter Hawkins, Tramaine Hawkins, BeBe & CeCe Winans, and the Clark Sisters, she was destined to sing.

Her eleventh release and debut recording on Tommy Boy Gospel has her venturing into a new element and reaching a new audience. Vanessa says, “This is the one recording that will reach people that I couldn’t reach before.” Part of the reason for the new audience is her new sound. Tyscot/Verity recording artist Deitrick Haddon, along with his brother Gerald Haddon, produced and wrote all of the cuts on A Brand New Day. Also for the first time, Vanessa tries her hand at songwriting, co-writing on a number of songs on this CD. Starting off the project is the mid-tempo Jesus I’ll Never Forget followed by the smooth jazz sounds of the title cut. Vanessa’s move into the contemporary vein is very apparent on the song, Make A Way, a hip-hop groove complete with rap.

Vanessa’s pipes are still as strong as ever as she belts it out from the soul on Do What He Said. The cut written by Deitrick and wife, Atlantic recording artist Damita, is one of the CD’s best. One of Vanessa’s strengths is her ability to let you have it on churchy-type ballads – and this is definitely one. The song is also a reminder to all of us that God will do exactly what He spoke. If He said it, He will do it. You’ve Been Good and Somebody Prayed For Me are also good songs - the latter being a new one by Deitrick, slightly reminiscent of the church classic. While listening to this song, I couldn’t help but think about where I would be if it hadn’t been for the prayers of my family when I didn’t (or couldn’t) pray for myself. Somebody Prayed For Me is also complete with a remix. He’s Real is another great song with a rock edge that Vanessa really sings. Holding On and the calypso-sounding No Failure leads into Promise, another slow-tempo song that Vanessa really ministers on. If you are waiting on a promise from God, Vanessa will speak to you through this song about waiting on God, writing the vision and making it plain. Shall Not Be Moved is an upbeat jam about not moving and stay firm when the storms of life blow.

It’s apparent on this project that Vanessa’s producer, Deitrick Haddon, took familiar themes and songs titles from the church and gave them a new vibe and sound. What a unique way of taking the gospel and packaging it in a way that today’s generation will be able to relate to. Although this project is a departure from the church laden songs we’re used to hearing from Vanessa, I think she does well. You can see this CD is reflective of a change in her perspective. The lyrics in the last song Say Goodbye tell us that she’s not looking back - just looking forward to what God has in the future for her. Vanessa herself says, “I’ve got a new attitude and a new outlook on life. This is a new beginning for me.” Welcome to the new Vanessa Bell Armstrong.





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