July 28, 2010
by Robert Hasan James
Surprisingly, the night started out with all three gospel icons entering the stage with their repsective choirs, Love Fellowship, Company and New G. “The Blessing of Abraham” set things off and the crowd was definitely energized and excited to hear Donald go down memory lane but just as the song ended, Ricky Dillard appeared front and center as the combined choir started belting out “I May Not Have This Chance” from his “Live in Toronto” album. Once Hezekiah Walker, clad in the hottest Red, White and Blue Gucci kicks, directed the choir with his hit, ”I’ll Be Satisfied”, it was evident that this was going to be a friendly song battle of sorts, as each Brat Pack member went head to head for at least nine straight songs from songs from teh classic albums. I hope that YOU, the reader, realizes that these future legends collectively have over 60 years in the gospel music industry and it was evident as they each went through their classic material such as: “The Best is Yet to Come”, “Work It Out”, “I Will Go In Jesus Name”, “Hallelujah”, “Bless Me Indeed”, “Calling My Name” and many others. The crowd literally stood for at least an hour straight and at times it seemed as if it was hard to get a praise in the room just because most people were simply in awe.
Halfway through the set, Donald Lawrence asked the crowd if they wanted to see a Brat Pack reunion album come to pass and the crowd immediately obliged him! Hezekiah Walker also spoke about how The Brat Pack was literally birthed out of the GMWA as they all got their start at the conference well over two decades ago. He went on to say that they had not all performed as The Brat Pack since the passing of the fourth member of the brotherhood, O’landa Draper.
The night would not be complete without paying homage to Draper, and pay homage they did. Mr. Energy himself, Ricky Dillard, led the choir into one of Draper’s classic hits, “My Soul Doth Magnify The Lord” and the crowd literally went crazy! Acapella never ever sounded so good! “Do Well… Do Well… Do Well.. Do Well.. A Woop Woop”, never sounded so good! “I Gotta Feeling” and “I’ve Got A Reason” followed, to complete the tribute portion of the concert but “My Soul” was clearly the show stopper.
At this point, we are about two hours in and one would think that the concert is almost over but its not even close, as the collective choir exits stage left and we were left with the incomparable Donald Lawrence and Company. We all know that Donald Lawrence probably has the best singers on the planet and it was confirmed when two of his singers sang the Chaka Khan classic, “Through The Fire”. That was the first time it occurred to me that this song could very well be a gospel song which further reminded me how much of a musical genius Donald Lawrence really is. Naturally, D. Lawrence & Company did songs from “The Law of Confession” album and songs like “The Blessing Is On You”, “King In You” and “Back To Eden” blessed the crowd tremendously. Ricky Dillard and New G perfomed many of their classics but when Ricky unselfishly asked the crowd what they wanted to hear, “One More Chance” led by star alto, Lillian Lloyd, was the clear winner. Of course, Lillian showed up and showed out as her adlibs are like no other. At times, it was like watching a Broadway play as she danced her way across the stage and willingly choked herself with her choir robe sash to get her point across that God saved her from the dirty things that this world had to offer her. However, she is now free and she made everyone in the room a believer! It’s no wonder this song is such a You Tube favorite! Veteran of the group, Hezekiah Walker and Love Fellowship ended the set with crowd favorites like “Faithful Is Our God”, “Grateful”, “Clean Inside” and the # 1 song, ”Souled Out”. At one point LFC alum, Kirvy Brown even came out of retirement and tagged a song like only Kirvy Brown can.
Overall, there is nothing bad you can say about this reunion. It was well worth the $10, $15 and $20 it cost for admission. Kudos to Verizon “How Sweet The Sound”, James Robinson and Bishop Albert Jamison for putting the show together as it was so nostagic to see these great men of God come together again. If you missed it, you missed a treat but hopefully we will all see that reunion album come to pass. No egos, no competition, just good old gospel music at its finest!