Sharlene Wells Hawkes

Song of the Morning Stars

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Leave it to Miss America to set the purpose of life to music. After all, she's got the spiritual backing, the voice to lead, and the connections to turn out one of the most prestigious choral and orchestral ensembles ever assembled. Only someone who reaches for the stars (and who has been one themselves) could pull off this caliber of performance. Song of the Morning Stars is a landmark production, one that shares the "Plan of Salvation" from angles not normally sung about. Rarely has anyone sung it this well, either. Sharlene Hawkes has a commanding alto voice that turns girls green with envy. While she takes lead vocals on several songs, the remainder are sung by extremely talented have's and have-not's of the industry. Among the recognizable names are David Barrus, Brett Raymond, Felicia Sorensen, and James Marsden; the album also gives potentials Lucie Wood Gibbons, Kary Burns, and Danny O'Very a shining start. As the "Plan of Salvation" focuses on perspective, it is intriguing how Hawkes shares new points of view in her songwriting. "I Rejoice" expresses the joy Eve may have felt after realizing the necessity of her eviction from the Garden of Eden. "Thy Will Be Done" elicits the Savior's plea from the cross, another perspective rarely pondered. Judas' betrayal rings in his ears in the lingering introspection "The God I Chose," and two disciples know in retrospect who walked the road with them in "Did Not Our Hearts Burn?" The album is crisply produced, and each song offers extraordinary arrangements and reflections. In this case, the music matches the scope of what it portrays.

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