Joyful, “Sanctified Soul” (Rampart Street Music)


Paul Simon’s moving “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” a huge hit for him and his creative partner Art Garfunkel in 1970, opens veteran New Orleans gospel group Joyful’s Sanctified Soul. Symbolically and musically it stands as a link between gospel and secular music which is at the heart of Joyful’s purpose and sound. Chandra Grayson, one of the core members of the group that includes Alfred Caston, Albert Mickel and Jan Randolph, vibrantly sings the well-known lyrics followed by guest vocalist Timothy Ashmore. Background vocalists, an organ and Grayson’s and Ashmore’s call and response bring the song to church.

Ashmore is back on Caston’s soulful original “I’ve Got a Feelin’,” which is complete with a horn section and a message of “love, joy, peace and understanding.” Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” fits right in with Joyful’s spirit and outlook as well as all of those looking for the hope that song and trust can bring. Jan Randolph does a wonderful job interpreting this classic that also includes some tasty guitar.

The whole Joyful group is in on the final cut, “B.S.U.R.” (translation: “be as you are”), a funky number that reminds folks that if you follow that advice, “then you will find your star inside yourself.”

Joyful expresses its messages and musicality on Sanctified Soul, plus the joy that is an essential element of the group’s name.