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Black Music Month Focus (VIDEO INTERVIEW): THE LEGENDARY LUTHER BARNES ON THE INSPIRATION FOR GOD'S GRACE AND MAKING QUALITY MUSIC


By Mona Austin

(The Slice -- Chesapeake, VA): Anyone who questions the relevance of traditional gospel music in today's music marketplace that is over-saturated with contemporary forms of inspirational music need only examine the current release from the legendary Rev. Luther Barnes, "The Favor of God." Barnes played the Musical Soulfood Festival in Chesapeake, VA June 23 where he performed a set of classics and  his latest hit single, "God's Grace" from the come back album. The crowd readily embraced every selection, both old and new. 

Live strings and horns arrest the listeners' attention on several compositions on "The Favor of God," backed by the Restoration Worship Center Choir.  Not only does the album affirm the acceptance and continued popularity of traditional gospel, but also it asserts Barnes' significance as a voice in the genre.

The son of Rev. F.C. Barnes ("Rough Side of the Mountain"), the younger pastor Barnes has a long history in music, one in which he has consistently placed his signature producing and arranging style on traditional gospel.  As a young man, Barnes, 63, always wondered why gospel music did not sound like the music of mainstream artists like the Temptations.  As an artist he raised the bar by producing high quality work that immediately carries a distinction.  

Stated the Rocky Mount, NC native, "The voices, the beats, the sounds ... the music has always got to be as good as you can make it."

Illness sidelined Barnes for years but the "I'm Still Holding On" writer/director has returned stronger than ever after a decade long break from recording with choirs.   While he said "God's Grace" is a song with universal meaning, he also admits that the loss of his father and battling sickness himself inspired him to reflect on the perpetual grace of God.  Here he talks about the single and offers pearls of music wisdom in recognition of Black Music Month.


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