Smokie Norful

How I Got Over...Songs That Carried Us

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In a recording that seems to begin well after the start of a service and to fade out before that service's conclusion, Smokie Norful devotes himself and a small army of associates to what he calls "old-school style" gospel, i.e., traditional gospel. "Anybody remember these kinds of songs?" he asks, introducing "Sunday Morning Medley," and it seems that many of his listeners do. The 12th District AME Mass Choir provides the choruses, as Norful introduces peers (Myron Butler, Sheri Jones-Moffett), protégés (Keshia McFarland), influences (Melvin Williams, Vanessa Bell Armstrong, Joe Ligon of the Mighty Clouds of Joy), and, eventually, his father, Pastor W.R. Norful, Sr., who sings a powerful "Amazing Grace." The younger Norful does not get lost among the guest stars, however. He remains both an expressive singer in his own right, and a loquacious speaker with an ability to connect to his listeners, whether he's reminiscing about traveling the country with his father trying to get his favorites on the tape deck; recalling the whippings he received "with love"; or raving about the redemptive power of the blood of Christ. This is an album aimed at older gospel fans who will find it easier to accept a younger voice like Norful's now that he has made apparent the tradition of which he is a part.

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