Prime Cuts: Still, Still, Still/O Holy Night, I Wonder as I Wander, Who Would Imagine a King
Overall Grade: 5/5
Inside the petite frame of TaRanda Greene lies a Titanic voice, one that can soar to the heights of Everest and one that will do Whitney Houston, Barbra Streisand, and Celine Dion proud. But it's not just the height of her soars that astounds, it's her ability to draw out an array of emotions from her songs that really sets TaRanda apart. This is why she is often a favorite guest of the famed Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. She was invited by the Church to be a special featured soloist on the latest two Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir recordings "Declare Your Name" and "A Brooklyn Tabernacle Christmas". She was also invited to appear before the United Nations for a special Christmas concert, where she thrilled representatives from around the world with her rousing rendition of O Holy Night.
"Spirit of Christmas" was first released in 2005. Later, StowTown upsized the album bumping up the track listing from 8 songs to 13. The album starts off with a delightful version of "It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas." The jazzy piano and Greene's breezy ushers in the sentiments and nostalgia of the season in a gorgeous way. The richly orchestrated "Still Still Still" which magically transports us back into those 50s-styled sepia-toned movies where music had a movingly romantic ambiance. And this perfectly segues us in into a dynamic performance of "O Holy Night," which has already become a signature hit in Greene's repertoire.
In lesser hands, the carol "I Wonder as I Wander" often suffers from monotony, but not with Greene. The way she drags her notes across miles and miles is itself a mouth-opening pulverising moment that deserves multiple standing ovations. Never one to be stymied in one style of music, she goes to church fronting a choir with the worshipful "Jesus, What a Wonderful Child." Then she leads us into a bluesy R&B rendition of the title track "That Spirit of Christmas." The brassy horns are front and center when Greene delivers a jazzy version of "Cool Yule." Though she doesn't rival Whitney Houston's "Who Would Imagine a King," Greene is just as effective in drawing out the song's carefully depiction of both the majesty and vulnerability of the Christ-child.
If you are looking for a voice that not only can sing, but one that makes these Christmas songs take on lives of their own, give this CD a listen.