Lou Rawls, who began his career singing gospel in the late '40s, comes full circle with I'm Blessed, the first solo gospel release of his long and distinguished career.

Lou Rawls, who began his career singing gospel in the late '40s, comes full circle with I'm Blessed, the first solo gospel release of his long and distinguished career. Producer Rev. Milton Biggham perfectly understands both Rawls' gifts and legacy, keeping instrumental soloing to a minimum while providing an air-tight rhythm section and inspired backing vocals from a list of gospel luminaries that includes the Georgia Mass Choir and the Mississippi Mass Choir. Rawls is in magnificent voice, with his rich baritone alternately smooth and husky as ever. The prevailing fare here is a tasty mix of timeless R&B and traditional gospel, with a 12-song set of classic hymns ("Amazing Grace," "Were You There") and gospel standards ("Peace in the Valley," "Amen," "Oh Happy Day").It's nothing short of inspiring to hear Rawls put his still-formidable imprint on such familiar fare.—GE

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