Edwin Hawkins, Shine Your Light
Hallelujah! It's a live recording from Edwin Hawkins, one of the more dynamic praise-group bandleaders around. (He has 20-odd albums to prove it, not to mention 1969's smash hit "O Happy Day.") Kicking off with a soul-stirring stomp version of "Jesus Can," Hawkins shows he knows how to harness powerful soloists and a large choir — his trick is to match soloists who stick primarily to a contemporary gospel-pop style with a choir that has a more traditional edge. "All Things Are Possible" is an energizing R&B-tinged gospel ballad, where a full-throttle cry of "God can do it/ He can do the impossible!" is answered by fervent "Hallelujah!"s from the congregation. Standout tracks include the up-tempo "Do You Know Him?," the joyous all-choral funk of "In That Land" and "Let Jesus Love You," which borrows a few classic lines from Mary J. Blige, then promises "He can make you a real woman/ He will make you a real man!" Amen!