History teaches us that gospel music was born in the quarters of captured Africans and their descendants who were enslaved on the plantations of the old south in the United States. It gave rise to the musical form known as the blues. The blues has given birth to literally all forms of American music from pop music, to rap, to country and to rock and roll. They all can be traced back to the blues. The oldest child of the blues is jazz. A Divine Union is a collection of songs that has been masterfully crafted to combine the music of today (jazz) with the musical form that gave it life (gospel/spirituals).
There are twelve songs. The husband/wife songwriting team of Reverend Dr. Michael Beckwith and Dr. Rickie Byars-Beckwith wrote four of them. They are the senior minister and music director respectively of the Agape International Spiritual Center, a non-denominational church located in Culver City, California. There are also contributions from saxophonist Dale Fielder and Reverend Dr. Herman Brooks. The musical collaboration of Dale, trumpeter Richard Grant, keyboardist Rod Terrell, and bassist David Cousins form a tapestry of sound that possesses a life of its own. Real jazz tends to do that. As you listen to these works of art, note the haunting melodies that are “God is Real”, “Nataraja”, and “Sufi Song”. “Find Us Ready Lord” is like a waltz to the edge of understanding in order to be defined by the Almighty, thus insuring salvation. Sway to and from with the vibration of “The Spirit of God is Upon Me” and experience the majesty of “A Divine Union”. Feel the spirit of the Blackbyrds in “Future Children, Future Hope”. Remember the church you grew up in as you absorb the essence of “Jacob’s Ladder”. Ride the wave of calm that comes with “I Trust In God” as you discover “The Measure of Love” that we all seek.. When you encounter “Keshava Murahara” the journey through the artistic expedition is nearly complete. “I Release And I Let Go” is in the spirit of Cannonball Adderley’s “Country Preacher” and let go I did. I hope that as you listen to this album you will feel , as I, the influences that make efforts like this unforgettable.
James Janisse – Program Host
Radio Station KKJX (KJAZ) 88.1 FM Long Beach, CA
KUOR 89.1 FM Redlands, CA