What I'm Listening To...

Double Take Tuesday: The Good Shepherd

This week's double take song is The Good Shepherd penned by V. Michael McKay. The lyrics speak of Jesus being The Good Shepherd as referenced in John 10:11, loving and guiding us, never leaving us alone, always tending to our needs. The song was first recorded by the Gospel Music Workshop of America Mass Choir (GMWA) on their 1989 release, Live In St. Louis, Missouri on Savoy Records. The song is the first track on the album and starts out with an introduction from GMWA's founder, the late Rev. James Cleveland. The song is led by Hanq Neil who resides in Houston, Texas who has sung and played on various GMWA Mass and GMWA Men of Promise albums (I believe he even once released his own album some time ago). He also was once minister of music at Windsor Village UMC in Houston pastored by Kirbyjon Caldwell (where Kathy Taylor-Brown (who also leads a song on this album) and Lamar Campbell are ministers of music) and now plays for Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church in Houston. It's the choir however, that in my opinion that carry the song, the song just seems to come to life once the choir comes in.

Fast foward to 1995, Yolanda Adams records The Good Shepherd on her 1996 Grammy nominated release, More Than A Melody on the Verity label. Yolanda's version is somewhat slower than GMWA's version, but still stays true to that "churchy" sound that original recording had but with a jazzy overtone. What I liked personally about this song in terms of the music itself, were the inclusion of string arrangements in Adam's version, especially in the beginning of the song. It added a calmness to the song that marinated well with the lyrics.

Both versions offer their own mix which work, so there's not one that I perfer over the other. I would like to know which one you all like or how do you like the original, any comments are welcomed as always in the comment link below this post.

P.S.

If you have any requests or suggestions let me know in the shoutbox to the right or you can always email me (there's a link to my email address in the "about me" column). To hear the songs just click on the album covers.

2 comments:

George Lacefield said...

I already posted a comment but I'm not sure if it posted: I'll give it another shot.

I prefer the 1st recording by GMWA in St. Louis, MO. I also played the organ for this song. (shameless plug) Thanks for remembering and posting the song.

Joseph (JayEm86) said...

Wow! I attend Wheeler Avenue and I know Hanq. This is quite the throwback! He also sounds the same nearly 20 years later. As an amatuer gospel music historian, I knew that he sang with the Pentecostal Ambassadors back in the 70s, and I knew that he knew Rev. Cleveland, but I didn't know he sang on an album with him. I can't wait to see the look on his face when I say "What do you know about the GMWA in St. Louis album and the Good Shepherd song?" LOL.

And yes, you are correct, Hanq did release his own album back in the early 90s, but I don't remember the title of it. I think I recall reading in the liner notes that Kathy Taylor-Brown and Karen Stewart, both of Windsor Village UMC sang backup vocals, along with some other names that escape me at the moment. He has released two or three more albums since then, one of which is titled "Uniquely Hanq".