CD Review: Praise (Childress Family)
Ken and Marlene Childress founded the Childress Family over thirty years ago. Ken had sung with the Golden Keys Quartet but left to start singing with his family when he heard his children’s harmonizing abilities. Two of their children, daughters Carla and Teresa, are still with the group; son Shannon left to join the Hoppers as their pianist in the 1980s.
Though Shannon doesn’t sing with the group, he does produce their projects. His abilities are on par with the best out there; he produced a number of Hoppers’ recordings through the 1990s, and this project is on par with their recordings from that era. Unlike the Hoppers, which feature two male and two female singers, the Childress Family features one male vocal and two or three female vocals as their default configuration; however, Claude Hopper’s bass part is frequently de-emphasized enough in the Hoppers’ mixes that the difference isn’t particularly noticeable.
The song selection is mostly or entirely of songs that have been already recorded by other Southern Gospel and Contemporary Christian Music groups. However, with a few exceptions, most of the songs are cuts that have been done rarely enough that the project sounds like a recording of mostly new songs. “The Unseen Hand” and “I Go to the Rock” are two of the more familiar Southern Gospel selections. CCM fans will recognize “In Christ Alone,” a modern praise song that has just been waiting for a Southern Gospel group to pick it up.
Fans of the Mike Speck Trio will recognize “Let the Rocks Keep Silent,” and fans of Liberty Quartet will recognize “He’s Been There Too.”
“When Jesus Breaks the Morning” has been cut by several other groups, including a pleasant a capella rendition by the Talley Trio about ten years ago, but this magnificent orchestrated arrangement is one of the album’s most memorable highlights.
This album is easily on par with any major label Southern Gospel project. The Childress Family is one of the best unsigned / independent artists on the Southern Gospel circuit today.
Rating: 4 stars. ♦ Average song rating: 3.7 stars. ♦ Group members: Ken and Marlene Childress, Jamey, Teresa (Childress), and Courtney Lutz, Carla Childress. ♦ Produced by: Shannon Childress. ♦ Available from: Artist. (EDIT: 8/5/2011: Broken link removed) Review copy provided. ♦ Song list: Let the Rocks Keep Silent; This We Believe; He Promised Me; The Unseen Hand; God Did It; I Will Go; I Go to the Rock; In Christ Alone; He Is; He’s Been There Too; When Jesus Breaks the Morning.