Ever since this exceptional group became known to international audiences in 1991 with the release of their groundbreaking "Evolution of Gospel" album on Jimmy Jam & Terry Lewis’ Perspective Records, they have been firm favorites among music lovers who appreciate the blend of gospel, R&B, dance music, traditional spirituals, jazz and blues that the Sounds provide.
I was fortunate to ‘discover’ the group with that first release and had the privilege of traveling with them during a trip to Los Angeles when they thrilled congregation after congregation at different churches with their soulful brand of heartfelt music. We hung out in London during the group’s first trip to the U.K. that same year and aside from musical talent, members of the group are some of the nicest – and funniest – people I’ve ever met!
Leader GARY HINES has been instrumental in ensuring that the group continues to make glorious music, in spite of an everchanging record industry. After Perspective folded a couple of years ago, the group had one album release on A&M (the 1997 set "Time For Healing") and resurfaced a few months ago with a brilliant new record entitled "Reconciliation" on Zinc Records. From the upbeat flavor of "Try" (with a catchy sample from The Spinners’ classic "It’s A Shame") to the stunning ballad "Rainbow," this is one of the year’s best releases and certainly on a par with the work the Sounds have done previously…
In our recent interview, expressly for this newsletter, Gary explained, "The label we’re on is owned by Bobby Z., and our history with him goes back to when he worked with Prince. We worked together on a number of occasions before we hooked up with Jimmy and Terry including on his solo album. There’s always been a good vibe personally and musically and he knew we had left A&M and that we were working on a new album on our own. In fact, the record was already done when he and I sat down for lunch to talk about it. He never even heard one track and told me he wanted to release the album on his label!"
Gary says that as has always been the case, "We started out with a concept, a theme for the album. It took about a year from the songwriting to the final mastering and when we were thinking about what we wanted to say with this album, we thought about all the madness that’s been going on around us…in our own streets, in the Middle East, in Northern Ireland, between India and Pakistan. We felt that as a race, we would either have to reconcile our differences or destroy ourselves. We thought of reconciliation as the foundation in the relationships between parents and children, between lovers, between nations…"
A very contemporary collection – from the groove of "Tell Me What You’re Thinkin’ ‘Bout" to the hip single "You Are The One" – the new album is definitely more R&B-flavored than the group’s previous work but misses none of the passion and authenticity that associated with the team. Notes Gary, "We debuted the album in Japan – it was our fifth time there – and the people loved it. We were a little nervous but it went very well!" Ever active, the Sounds have recorded music for an upcoming Disney feature, "The Life of John Henry" and in March, they were honored – along with Robin Williams, Steven Spielberg; Mary J. Blige, Tracy Chapman – with an "International Time For Peace" award for their work in promoting unity and harmony. Upcoming is a track on a special album tribute to Phil Collins and the "Reconciliation" tour which kicked off in Washington DC at the Warner Theater on January 16th when the Sounds were part of a special Millennium tribute to Martin Luther King.
About the Writer
David Nathan is the founder and CEO of SoulMusic.com and began his writing career in 1965; beginning in 1967, he was a regular contributor to Blues & Soul magazine in London before relocating to the U.S. in 1975 where he served as U.S. editor for the publication for several decades and began being known as 'The British Ambassador Of Soul.' From 1988 to 2004, he wrote prolifically for Billboard, has penned bios, produced and written liner notes for box sets and reissue CDs for over a thousand projects. He returned to London in 2009 where he has helped create SoulMusic.com Records as a leading reissue label.