Grammy-nominated Crystal Lewis returns on May 13 with her first duet album entitled Together We Can. The album finds Lewis collaborating with some of the biggest stars in music, including Tori Kelly, Arturo Sandoval, Ty Herndon, Charles Jones, Lia Booth, Nikki Leonti, Ally Brooke (formerly of Fifth Harmony), and Mike Murray.
The album also features a very personal soul-jazz ballad titled "I Won't Forget You," which features Lewis singing with her adult children, Solomon and Isabella - a song she wrote and lovingly dedicates to her mother, who has Alzheimer's disease. Meanwhile, the record's lead single is "I Can't Help It" (feat. Charles Jones) which will drop on February 22.
The concept for the album evolved organically from the many SoCal shows Lewis and her band played after releasing Rhapsody in 2019. In addition to becoming part of the region's contemporary jazz community via a once-a-month residency at Spaghettini in Seal Beach, she performed a show called "Standards at the Standard" in L.A., Jax in Newport Beach, and various other venues, and often invited vocalist friends to join her, most memorably asking Charles Jones to sing the Michael Jackson song "I Can't Help It" (one of Lewis' all-time Jackson favorites) with her at Spaghettini.
"The project definitely took root in those early live performances," says Lewis. "We can get so caught up in life on social media, and that swirl of isolation and independence, that I thought it might be interesting to do something different and put out an indie project with other artists to show that there's still strength in sharing the spotlight, and shining a light on everyone, and not just on myself."
"This is why I chose to collaborate with artists and friends I greatly respect. There's a lot of stylistic diversity, but this jazz, pop, R&B setting is the space where I feel most comfortable expressing myself. I wanted to keep the momentum going that started with 'Rhapsody.'"
Both lyrically and stylistically, Together We Can is worlds away from Lewis' 90's heyday as one of CCM's top female singers - but she prefers to see it as artistic growth in response to her desire to explore other vistas. As the daughter of a pastor, the SoCal raised singer loved listening to gospel music greats like Andre Crouch and The Winans, but she was equally uplifted and impacted - as she's been throughout her life - by Aretha Franklin, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald and Michael Jackson. After starting her career singing with a CCM rockabilly band called Wild Blue Yonder at age 15, she signed her first solo artist deal with Frontline Records, and released her 1987 debut album "Beyond the Charade" at 17.
TRACK LISTING FOR "TOGETHER WE CAN":
I Can't Help It (feat. Charles Jones)
She Was Here (feat. Tori Kelly)
Side By Side (feat. Kate Flannery)
If We Ever Meet Again (feat. Arturo Sandoval)
Everybody Hurts (feat. Ty Herndon)
Take The Chance (feat. Nikki Leonti)
Happy Days/C'mon Get Happy (feat. Lia Booth)
I Won't Forget You (Solomon Ray & Isabella Ray)
Luckiest (feat. Mike Murray)
She Was Here / Spanish Version (feat. Ally Brooke)
Together We Can (feat. Terron Brooks, Kamilah Marshall & Eden Espinosa)