New York–With a fresh, energetic presentation of original songs that span a number of musical genres from traditional gospel, to contemporary gospel, to jazz-infused inspirational songs, to holyhip hop, Manifest is not your typical men’s ensemble. This exciting new group will release its debut CD, Highest Praise, on August 9, 2011.
Most of the songs on the 10-track CD, Highest Praise, were written by members of Manifest. While their music spans many genres, it also bends, merges and expands these genres to create a fresh, new sound that is uniquely their own. The music and songs are sotextured and filled with interesting elements that you can listen to them again and again and still discover a chord, a flourish, a syncopation or subtle key change that you had not noticed before. The lyrics are equally compelling, telling stories of revelation, resurrection and redemption; expressing praise and adoration; breathing new life into biblical verses, and bringing the good news of God’s power and love to contemporary audiences.
The songs on the CD take the listener on a journey of faith: from trust (the R&B style opener “According to His Purpose”), to love (“Because of Who You Are,” a love song with a stunning melody and brilliant harmonies, and the funk-rock style praise song, “Extraordinary”), to spiritual growth (“Who Do You Say I Am?,” with its hauntingly rich harmonies, and “What Would You Have Us to Do?,” a spoken word piece accompanied by a stirring organ solo), to praise (“Highest Praise,” a lively house-music style praise song, and “One God,” an exuberant praise song with universal appeal) and to reverence (“Bread of Life,” a pensive, melodic song with luxuriant harmonies, and “The Man,” an eloquent, commanding ballad). The last song on the CD, “Holy Ride,” embodies the musical journey in African American gospel music, from small-town southern churches to urban street corners, with Damon White, the song’s creator, describing it as “so old it’s new again.”
The CD also features world-class musicians who have performed with some of the top artists in jazz, gospel, R&B and hip hop. Gregoire Maret, a GRAMMY® Award-winning, internationally renowned harmonica player, is featured on the track “Holy Ride,” along with guitarist Sherrod Barnes, who has played with superstars such as Aretha Franklin and Whitney Houston. Other featured musicians include Nathaniel Townsley (drums), Kenneth Whalum III (tenor sax), Keyon Harrold (trumpet), Saunders Sermons (trombone), and Al Carty (bass guitar).
These musicians have performed or recorded with music stars such as Maxwell, Alicia Keys, Stevie Wonder, Fred Hammond, Israel Houghton, Regina Belle, Mariah Carey, Lalah Hathaway, Mary J. Blige, Beyoncé, Jay-Z,Fantasia, Chaka Khan, Macy Gray, Common, Richard Smallwood, Wynton Marsalis, Erykah Badu, and Jill Scott, among many others.Chelton Grey (bass guitar) and Jermaine Parrish (drums) are bandmembers for BET’s Sunday Best.Adi Yeshaya, who has arranged and/or produced for a long list of stars, including Aretha Franklin, Roberta Flack, Whitney Houston, Natalie Cole and Dionne Warwick, contributed the orchestration for “Because of Who You Are.”
With Manifest’s rich harmonies, diverse musical repertoire, and soul-stirring performances, the group has been quickly gaining fans in the gospel music industry and beyond. JJ Hairston, director of the Stellar Award-nominated and chart-topping group, Youthful Praise, and minister of music at the First Cathedral in Bloomfield, CT, had this to say about the group: “Manifest is an amazing group. A bunch of guys who love the Lord, sound great, and their passion for ministry and for God is evident when they sing. Great things are to come from them.”
The men of Manifest are Le Roy Davis, Josh Devine, Jonathan Hicks, Ian Jones, Derrick Marable, Daryl Patterson, Paul Quick, Colin Rodney, Augustus Sanders, Desmond Smith, Dante Smith-Cain, Andre Waring, Damon White, and Robert Wright.Theyrepresent a range of ages, careers, backgrounds and interests. Some members were born and raised in Brooklyn, while others hail from Missouri, Pennsylvania, Maine, Kansas, Nevada and New Jersey. The group includes a journalist, banker, educator, television and film producer, photographer, nurse, foster care counselor, private investigator, substance abuse counselor and students, among others.
Many members of the group have been singing in church choirs or other professional choral groups since they were young children. Many of the group’s members began singing together as part of Men Voicing Praise, the men’s choral ensemble at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn, NY, which was also led by Hicks. Their interests range from basketball, to slot cars, to landscaping, to acting, to gourmet cooking. What they share is a deep devotion and great enthusiasm for sharing the love of God through song. The brothers of MANIFEST seek to take their ministry not just to churches, but also to hospitals, shelters, prisons, festivals and celebrations.
The Highest Praise CD is distributed by Infinity Music Distribution of Central South Distribution, Inc. The CD will be available in stores and at online outlets, including iTunes.