MISSION STATEMENT / GOAL for this album: Through their inspirational urban Gospel songs, they strive to "whisper peace to the distressed, hope to the despondent and joy to the disheartened, "bringing to light the Lord's good promises and the hope we have in Jesus Christ."
A7 is made up of 6 brothers from one family whose first names all begin with A: Arcelious, Alonzo, Alexander, Andronicus, Antipas and Antonio, sons of Pastor James L Harris. The 7 refers to the presence of God in the form of the Holy Spirit which motivates and leads their music ministry and had led them in their preparation for lives of service for Christ as well.
Growing up, the Harris family principle which was relied on and practiced in action was "We have come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord."
Spiritual themes of this collection of songs.... The songs' hopeful spiritual messages, reflect what the members of A7 have learned, concerning the love and faithfulness of the Lord.
Living By Faith / This too shall pass - Finding God's Comfort in face of distress
CRY NO MORE * DON'T WALK AWAY * BEAUTIFUL
Depending on the Lord for courage, wisdom and discernment -
NO DREAM TOO SMALL
Family love and friendships which builds relationships
COME BACK HOME * ALWAYS HERE WITH ME
Church family love and encouragement -
CHURCH TIME IN THE SOUTH
The love of Jesus Christ
FRIEND LIKE JESUS * THAT'S LIFE * BEAUTIFUL * WORSHIP MEDLEY: I JUST WANT TO SEE HIS FACE / JESUS, I LOVE YOU
The Importance of sharing God's love and the gift of Jesus with others -
BRING IN THE NOISE * THE AFTERLIFE (TICK TOCK)
To learn more about A7 members, and what they individually have accomplished through faith, depending on the Lord, be sure to visit their BIO PAGE.
REVIEW of A7 Debut CD Review
Wow! What an album, it excels both musically and spiritually; A collection of songs which attracts a wider audience of listeners from not only urban, contemporary and traditional gospel enthusiasts, but also people who enjoy, solidly composed, vocally harmonious ballads of faith!! A7 have combined their collective musical and spiritual energies to create this musically interesting and harmonious collection of songs, whose themes explore their family life principle: "We have come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord."
It is obvious that they have lived this family principle, as they have all developed their talents and gifts, finding Spirit led occupations by depending on the Lord, (see bio). As they have lived, it goes to reason that their music also reflects this close relationship to the Lord, being both musically enjoyable and spiritually uplifting. It is no wonder that each of these songs truly do "whisper peace to the distressed, hope to the despondent and joy to the disheartened," bringing to light the Lord's good promises and the hope we have in Jesus Christ, inspiring the listener to have a more personal and closer relationship with the Lord.
For the benefit of the listener, the songs found in this music collection are a reflection of not only A7's considerable, collective musical talent, but also reflect their core beliefs, life experiences and what they have learned in their various ministries, so well expressed in the lyrical messages brought to life by the impressive vocal talent.
This reviewer has observed that all three elements which make Christian music most enjoyable and meaningful are present front and center on this CD:
Meaningful lyrics presented in story-telling form, first person prospective or as personal testimony:
The songs' hopeful spiritual messages, reflect what the members of A7 have learned in their own life experiences with others and themselves, concerning the love and faithfulness of the Lord. They excel at telling stories in their songs, to bring home the main message presented in each cut. These ballads tell stories which poignantly and effectively uplift, encourage us, warn and entertain the listener as well.
THAT'S LIFE - (17 year old girl with two babies, abandoned - Young man finds street life empty.)
BEAUTIFUL - (Depressed young woman who has hit bottom in despair, is counseled in this song.),
THE AFTERLIFE - (Stories of two young people who met unexpected ends, after making bad choices.) (TICK TOCK),
DON'T WALK AWAY - (Struggling to overcome bumps in the road, and mending broken hearts.)
CHURCH TIME IN THE SOUTH - (What happens during a church service in a worshiping southern congregation.)
Other songs are a statement of personal testimony, or sung from first person prospective:
CRY NO MORE - (Struggling to move past the searing pain of a loss or life's burdens.)
COME BACK HOME - (Remembering the love, fellowship and caring experienced in their home and neighborhood.)
NO DREAM TOO SMALL - ( Statement of faith and belief:"No mountain too high, river too wide. going to be all I can be if I believe. Share their own fulfillment of their dreams by depending on the Lord.)
ALWAYS HERE WITH ME - (Testimony on the staying power of loving human bonds in the singer's life.)
BRING IN THE NOISE - (Testimony on importance of stepping out of the community of believers in outreach to the hood and share the Gospel.)
The last two cuts are a loving testimony to Jesus Christ; Memorable worship anthems which would find a home in any congregation of believers.
FRIEND LIKE JESUS ("You need a friend like Jesus / He'll give you love and peace / He is always there when you need Him / Just as a friend should do.")
WORSHIP MEDLEY: I JUST WANT TO SEE HIS FACE / JESUS I LOVE YOU (Love letters of worship.)
Inspiring and high quality vocals and harmonies:
The strong, dynamic, lead vocals (mostly by Alexander & Alonzo), and the supporting, fabulous, smooth full choral harmonies of the brothers always work together, to offer a truly professional, entertaining uplifting sound, as well as a terrific vehicle for each song's message. Though they have been compared to Boyz 11 Men, Al Green, The Jacksons, and The Winans, they have been singing together since childhood, and have developed a solid harmonic sound, which is uniquely their own.
The members of A7 bring their many experiences, vast array of talent and knowledge of musical principles, such as dynamics, breath control and diction to their vocals and rap efforts. They are also able to sing with feeling, letting their faith shine through. All of this adds a special quality to their vocal efforts.
Favorite vocals: BEAUTIFUL * DON'T WALK AWAY * THAT'S LIFE * WORSHIP MEDLEY
Though the vocals and lyrics are the stars of the songs, the musical compositions are interesting, and creative.
A7's distinct musical style, known as "inspirational urban gospel" is showcased in these compositions, which are penned AND composed by members of A7 (David A. Harris, Antipas Harris, Alexander Harris and Alonzo Harris), and some friends on some of the cuts: (John Dreher, DJ. Wilson, Terrence Bazley, and David Jermott Jr.).
Their "inspirational urban gospel" broadens the depth of the urban style Gospel genre by blending and mixing elements of jazz, Motown (COME BACK HOME), R & B (NO DREAM TOO SMALL *CRY NO MORE) classical, blues, rock, hip-hop, contemporary (DON'T WALK AWAY) and traditional Gospel (FRIEND LIKE JESUS * WORSHIP MEDLEY) in their often memorable, infectious melodies and well-played, interesting rhythms and syncopated beats.
As a result, a variety of interesting compositions were created which have wide audience appeal. There is nothing musically dull about this dynamic collection of songs.
For example, the composition of THE AFTERLIFE (TICK TOCK) I find to be fascinating. It is an interesting combination of urban gospel, hip hop, edgy blues and soul, held together with a driving doted note beat, and accented by a bluesy, rock-edgy electrical guitar, which offers some mournful riffs and counter melody.
Most of the bridge sections found in these songs offer something musically different from the main melodies of the cuts on the CD. For example, in the bridge section in CRY NO MORE, the minor key it was composed in segues into a major key, creating a positive, hopeful accompaniment for the equally hopeful, encouraging lyrical message!
The listener is also treated to a variety of memorable melodies, both chordal (ALWAYS HERE WITH ME) and rhythm-based melodies (BEAUTIFUL * THAT'S LIFE)
A7's debut album of "inspirational urban Gospel" is a breath of fresh air, sure to bring comfort and encouragement to a listener's daily walk with the Lord, making it a valuable CD to have in one's collection. I highly recommend this album! There is a song for everyone on this CD, whether the listener is new to "inspirational urban Gospel" or a true enthusiast of inspirational music of all genres.
For those who want more details, lets explore the songs.
Living By Faith / This too shall pass - Finding God's Comfort in face of distress
* * * * + + CRY NO MORE - THEME:Song about grieving, heartaches and struggles - SEEKING strength and comfort from the Lord. Letting go of the pain and embracing tomorrow with hope and faith.
Lyrics by Alexander Harris and Alonzo Harris / Music by Alonzo Harris and David A. Harris
MUSICAL NOTES: Dynamic urban gospel performed very well by all concerned! Begins with a steady urban style synths beat, with piano and guitar providing added rhythm. Stirring melody is carried by vocals. Lead vocals are gospel style in dynamics and feeling. Though written in a minor key, It modulates into a major key in the bridge, which musically expresses the inevitable joy which will come at the end of the time of trouble and the spirit is restored. Choral vocals in bridge are also full of hope and joy.
Scriptural References: (2nd Cor. 1:4, 1 Peter 5:7, Psalm 9:9 & 91:2-5, Rev. 21, Micah 7:8)
Vs.2: Heartaches then always to be heard, darkness calls (darkness calls) / I am so tired but I can't sleep /At all /heavy burdens I just want to be free / Why do these struggle always / consumes me//
Bridge: Joy comes sooner in the mornin' / Sunshine / sweeps the clouds away / At the end of all your worries / Is / a start of a new day /start of a new day
Teary eyes (teary eyes) don't have to cry no more (cry no more) / Silence cries, Help is on the way / Let her go, (God knows and He understands)/ Sunshine / it will be alright it is going to be alright//
Hook: Teary eyes, don't cry no more, you can smile but release the pain / yeah. let it go / night / release the pain //
* * * * + + DON'T WALK AWAY - Favorite song of this reviewer! THEME: Dealing with shattered dreams, messes / trials, not giving up but step out in faith, depending on the Lord to finish the race. See their Video
Lyrics: Alexander Harris, Alonzo Harris and John Dreher / Music: Alexander Harris and Alonzo Harris.
MUSICAL NOTES: This easy R&B, contemporary anthem begins with a breezy intro with an acoustic guitar, creative synths piano and other delicate voices, setting the stage for the contagious melody, smooth, dynamic, comforting lead vocals and harmonious vocal backup ensemble. Nice key modulation from the bridge into the vamp chorus. Ends on a quiet note, with nice harmony in duet.
Scriptural References: (Joshua 1:9, Matt. 11:28-30, 1 Peter 5:7, Ephes. 3:18, Phil. 3:12-14, Micah 7:8)
LYRICAL SAMPLE: I know you're falling apart / Sad memories / Broken Hearts / Trying to find a way / Living a life / Lost in the dark / Even though vision Is fading fast / And feels just like the strength / You had / Won't last, just won't last //
2 lead vocals: Bridge: Time and time again / We always pray / Will there ever be a better day / I know you're hurting inside / Been stripped of your pride / But I'll be there to catch your tears when you cry //
Depending on the Lord for courage, wisdom and discernment -
* * * * + + NO DREAM TOO SMALL - THEME: "We have come this far by faith, leaning on the Lord."
Lyrics: Alexander Harris, Alonzo Harris and John Dreher Music: Alexander Harris and Alonzo Harris
Scriptural References: ( Phil. 1:6, 2:13-15 & 4:12-13, Hebrews 11:1, 1 Cor. 1:8-9, Jer. 29:11)
MUSICAL NOTES: Broad R&B dynamic anthem which has a lovely, memorable melody, two lead vocals and the usual harmonious backup vocals. The A capella section proves that A7 doesn't need musical accompaniment. Musical accompaniment is simple yet effective in its subtle support of rhythm and melody.
LYRICAL SAMPLE: From yesterday and now today / Tomorrow I must face / Someone please help me / Decisions I've got to make Lord give me the ability / The strength I need / To walk up right And fulfill my destiny //
Pre-Chorus: "No mountain too high / River too wide / Going to be all I can be If I believe."//
Family Love and friendships which builds relationships -
* * * * + + COME BACK HOME (The Hot Sauce and Chicken Wing Song) - THEME:A look back at their growing up years, a time of love, caring and support.
Lyrics:Alexander Harris, David A. Harris, Alonzo Harris, DJ Wilson, Antipas Harris, and Markel Crockton
Music: Music by DJ Wilson for SchoolHouse Music
MUSICAL NOTES: Reminds the listener a little of early Jackson Five music. Catchy piano and guitar / funky bass provide the driving rhythm support and chordal foundation for the song.
Scriptural References: (1 John 4:7-9, 12, Ephes. 4:2b-3, Hebrews 13:15-16)
LYRICAL SAMPLE: Come and go back with me / Just like it used to be / Like hot sauce and chicken wings / corn bread and collard greens / Feeling so good inside /There is no wonder why / we;ll never forget / let's have some fun //
This is one for the family / who stuck it out when they were down and out / Mom and Dad refused to fight / went down on their knees, prayed at night / His work always paid /Somehow we always ate / we can never forget / where we come from //
(So happy) Take the time to celebrate / Provisions that our God has made / (Feeling thankful) So thankful to be alive / I can't fight it / It feels so right / Sha nannanana
* * * * + + ALWAYS HERE WITH ME - THEME: Strong human bonds of love and caring are important foundations, reflections of our loving, caring Lord.
Lyrics:Alexander Harris / Piano and Cello Arrangement: Alonzo Harris
Music: Alexander Harris and Alonzo Harris / Vocal Arrangements: Alonzo Harris and John Dreher
MUSICAL NOTES: Absolutely beautiful piano - based anthem, which makes good use of cello as counter-melody. Duo vocals share the lead vocals, with strong harmonious support from A7.
Lovely key modulation into the VAMP chorus.
Scriptural References:(1 John 4:19, 1 Cor. 13:4-8)
LYRICAL SAMPLE: Wherever you are, that's where my heart will always be / No matter the distance / forever friend to me / No matter where I am, there is always a part of you with me / Something that I won't forget / forever here with me //
Church Family Love and Encouragement -
* * * * + + CHURCH TIME IN THE SOUTH - Urban gospel ballad, reflecting the love AND worship of a church family, experienced by A7.
Lyrics: David A. Harris, John Dreher, Alexander Harris and Alonzo Harris
Music: D J Wilson and Alonzo Harris
MUSICAL NOTES: A spirited and pumped up anthem brought roaringly to life with enthusiastic vocals, a hot organ, piano synths, sounds, and soulful, dynamic lead vocals by David. Love the boisterous full choral sound in chorus!
Scriptural References: (Psalm 100:2, John 4:24, Phil. 2:1-4, Col. 3:15-17)
"Preacher rise up / Keeping it pumped up / Passing peace and love / Amen / Now the people shout glory / As they give their testimonies / Everybody saying Amen / Now unto him / That can keep us from sin / Until we meet again / We be like Amen." //
Bridge: "Don't think it's crazy / That we wrote this song / But, this how we rockin' / When we church back home / No matter where we are when on the road / Church roots run deep and they go On and On."//
The Love of Jesus Christ -
WORSHIP MEDLEY: I JUST WANT TO SEE HIS FACE / JESUS, I LOVE YOU
Lyrics: Michael 'Moses' Mathis, Alonzo Harris and John Dreher
Music: Michael 'Moses' Mathis, and Alonzo Harris /
Piano Arrangements: Alonzo Harris for Souljah Productions
MUSICAL NOTES: Two wonderful, soaring worship anthems full of the Spirit! These stirring piano arrangements by Alonzo Harris are beautiful! The Holy Spirit surely does flow through both the piano and vocal performances, as the personal faith of all involved comes through!
Scriptural References: (John 3:16-18, 1 Chron. 16:11, Matt. 6:33, 1 Cor.6:19b-20, Romans 5:8)
* * * * + + I JUST WANT TO SEE HIS FACE - If I never travel around the world, near or far / Live in a mansion on a hill, or drive a brand new car / there comes a time when we must choose, the right thing to do / there is one thing than this world could ever be /
And that is, I just want to see His Face / Thank Him for His saving grace
* * * * + + JESUS, I LOVE YOU - A beautiful love letter to Jesus.
Jesus I love you / YOU know that I do / Jesus I love you YOU know that is true / I love You / I love You / I love You / yes I do ///
* * * * + + FRIEND LIKE JESUS - THEME
MUSICAL NOTES: Interesting mix of acoustic sound and hip hop beat, synths work which creates a lively altar call anthem. Lovely harmony in he Bridge. Usual strong vocals, always well presented and performed
Lyrics: Alexander Harris, DJ. Wilson, Terrence Bazley, Antipas Harris, and David Jermott Jr.
Music and Produced by DJ Wilson for SchoolHouse Music, De Bumpy Music Publishing (ASCAP)
Scriptural References: (Rev. 3:20, John 8:12 & 14:1-3, 8, Ezekiel 26:26)
LYRICAL SAMPLE: What are you looking for? Don't have to search for more....What you need is knocking at your door / the choice is yours, my friend / Don't you be missin' / on your feet confessin' / It's worth to find / give the Lord this time ///
Bridge: Just let yourself fall in / to His arms / You know that Jesus loves you just for who you are /
Chorus:You need a friend like Jesus / He'll give you love and peace / He is always there when you need Him / Just as a friend should do / Everybody needs Jesus / for giving understanding / You need someone to watch your back / Won't shine Him with me...
* * * * + + THAT'S LIFE - THEME: The need to have the Lord's love in our lives, to hang onto His strength, fill empty holes in our soul (accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior.)
Lyrics: Alexander Harris, David A. Harris, Antipas Harris, John Dreher and Alonzo Harris / Music: D J Wilson and Alonzo Harris
MUSICAL NOTES: Wonderful blend of urban gospel, blues and Hip Hop, A cooking sound, which supports the irresistible rhythm and wonderful melody and vocals written in a minor key.
Scriptural References: (James 1:17, Psalm 89, Hebrew 12:1-3, Ephes. 4:23, Romans 5:1-5)
I was talkin' to a girl named Betty, Life wasn't all so pretty, 17 had two babies. Her living situation was crazy / ain't got no home / baby's daddy had left and gone / all purpose love gone wrong / now she is all alone //
Chorus: (That's Life) / Doesn't have to be that way / (So real) / But reality can change / (There's love) / Love ain't just a dream / Look up Look to heaven / Cause your life ain't in these streets //
Bridge: Life ain't no fairy tale / Sometimes to get to heaven gotta go through hell // You'll see / it's all worth while / that's what makes us stronger!
There is true love / I found it in Jesus / All I have to do is look up!
* * * * + + BEAUTIFUL - THEME: Jesus loves us despite our faults and bad choices, and will see us through our unintended consequences. He loves us, and we need to tell others who are hurting about his love.
Lyrics:John Dreher, David A. Harris, DJ Wilson and Alonzo Harris
Music: by DJ Wilson / Vocal Arrangements: Alonzo Harris and John Dreher
MUSICAL NOTES: Driving, catchy rhythm and inspiring synths work / tracks are perfect backdrop / counter melody for the melody and fabulous vocals of this ballad rich in harmony and poignancy. Written in a minor key, which gives it sparkle and nuance. The rap is clear and meaningful.
Scriptural References: (Hebrews 10:21-25, Psalm 56:3-4a, Col. 1:10-11, 2nd Cor. 9:8, Romans 5:8)
LYRICAL SAMPLE: Girl, I know I saw you cryin' / Your / head was hangin' down, you had a nasty frown / sayin' you were only trying / to /make a happy man, but he didn't understand / So when he finally up and left ya / you / said you called it quits / and popped your pills / but I just had to come and tell ya, / that / you can live your life / and you don't have to cry //
Chorus: You ain't gotta cry, baby (It's gonna get better), you're beautiful (Don't give up life) / You ain't gotta cry, baby, you're beautiful / God knows you are / /
Baby Girl / Its your world / don't you let it go / You are my precious, and you know / Dry your eyes / It's alright / You are beautiful / Don't hide your beauty / let it show //
Baby Girl / look at you /It is in your eyes / in your smile / You are beautiful! / Inside of you / you are!)
Sharing God's love and the gift of Jesus with others -
* * * * + BRING IN THE NOISE - THEME: Christians need to step out into the secular world and share the hope and love we have in Jesus Christ, sharing what he has done for us.
Lyrics by Alexander Harris and Alonzo Harris / Music by Alonzo Harris and David A. Harris
MUSICAL NOTES: Broad anthem with a catchy beat. Blends elements of traditional gospel (Organ and piano) with urban influences (synths). Organ and piano provide solemn chordal support, with some interesting sounds from the synths and slide guitar. Great build in dynamics in the chorus. Vocals are fabulous as usual, inspiring the listener to share faith and Jesus with others outside of church community.
Scriptural Differences: (John 15:16, 2nd Cor. 4:5-7, Philemon 1:6, Matt.28:19-20)
LYRICAL SAMPLE: In the church we sing a heavy big amount / Talkin' to folks who know what it's about / Don't get me wrong your testimony is all good / but its time for us to share them with the hood / (Rise up) And be heard / (Step out) And represent the Word / Come out the closet / And tell them who you be / Not ashamed that you are a s-a-i-n-t /
Chorus: The noise / Turn it up / No one knowin' / till you step out and show who you are / The noise / Turn it up / No one knowin' / till you step out and show who you are (Bring it in, Bring it in) / The noise / Turn it up / No one knowin' / till you step out and show who you are /
Bridge: We're not ashamed / no matter what we go through / sunshine and rain / heartbreak and pain //
* * * * + + TICK TOCK - 2nd favorite song of this reviewer. THEME We are not promised tomorrow. How we choose to live affects our after life - Don't put off your spiritual connection with the Lord. It is important to share the good news of Jesus, to those who don't know Him; for tomorrow may be their last day in this life.
Lyrics: David A. Harris and Alexander Harris / Music: David A Harris and Alonzo Harris
Scriptural References: (Luke 12:35-40, 15:34, 17:24, Romans 14:10-13, Phil. 4:8)
MUSICAL NOTES: Wonderful combination of soul, blues, hip hop, dotted note rhythm composed in a minor key. Emotional VAMP, poignant vocals and a powerful zing added by an expressive electrical guitar.
LYRICAL SAMPLE: Teen girl / Had a fight with mama / Because she wanted her to go to church / Not listening she stormed out the door / Left her mom with a great hurt / The night chillin' on her boyfriend's bed / Stray bullet shot / Landed in her head / She finally made it to church / But she rolled up in a black hearse //
Chorus: Life is like a second / You here then gone the next / Didn't know she'll / Take eternal rest / Got to be mindful / Of the way we choose to live / Because the way we die / Determines the afterlife //Repeat Chorus
Reviewed by Julie Carr - for ChristianMusic.com
Visit their Partial Lyric Page - printed with permission