CD Review: J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise – “I See Victory”

All eyes are on J.J. Hairston & Youthful Praise as they return with the release of their seventh album, I SEE VICTORY (Light Records). The Stellar Award nominated choir, who released their first album AWESOME GOD in 2001, has gone on to record some great Gospel radio hits since that time. Their songs (Incredible God, After This, Lord You’re Mighty), and several others, have become Sunday morning favorites for choirs and praise teams.

I SEE VICTORY, which includes two singles that are already chart-topping hits, was recorded at The First Cathedral church in Bloomfield, CT.

The 13-track album features special appearances by gospel music greats VaShawn Mitchell, Donnie McClurkin, Jason Nelson, Karen Clark Sheard and Deon Kipping among others.

The album centers on the theme of a message that Hairston heard Bishop Joby Brady (Campus Pastor of Potter’s House North of Dallas, TX) preach years ago. The message said, “You have to see what you want before you can go after it, or have it.”

“I see myself with victory over everything, so I’m going after it, and I believe I can have it… because I can see it,” Hairston says.

I SEE VICTORY, is an electrifying project, which showcases the talented Youthful Praise choir at its best. Comprised of beautiful melodies… and the signature vocal and musical arrangements that its fans have come to appreciate, this album is a winner.

Some of the highlights of the CD are, “It Pushed Me,” featuring Zebulon Ellis. Be prepared to clap your hands and sing along. It is a feel good song of encouragement, which speaks about victory over the tests and trials of life. It says, “What the enemy thought would destroy me, God turned it around for my good…” and “It pushed me into my destiny.” This one is certain to be a praise service motivator.

Nothing Compares,” featuring VaShawn Mitchell, is another uplifting, ‘sing-a-long’ tune that boasts, “Who is like the Lord?” It goes on to answer, “There’s no one… that’s why I’m gonna praise you.”

Gospel legend, Donnie McClurkin lends his powerful voice to the recent radio hit, “Bless Me.” This song, which climbed the Gospel Airplay chart as a single, is reminiscent of the contemporary choir music that Gospel music fans came to love in back the early 90’s.

Awe of You,” with Karen Clark Sheard, is a must hear. An updated rendition of “I Stand In Awe of You,” this powerful song is the perfect ‘hymn of thanks’ for a worship service.

Pay close attention to “Wonders To Perform,” “All Things Well” and “Good To Me.” Several members of Youthful Praise lead these songs. They don’t disappoint either. Actually, their lead vocals add strength to the album. Gifted with natural talent, each possess the necessary ingredients to set themselves apart as solo artists in the near future. It is something Hairston says he would like to see “birthed and nursed as they are in (members of) Youthful Praise.”

All in all, I SEE VICTORY, which also includes a deluxe version on iTunes (with some added extras), is chock-full of a variety of songs – classic and contemporary – that will fit any Gospel music lover’s taste.