Marvin Sapp, "Here I Am"

85 Billboard Rating

The sonorous voice behind the long-running gospel No. 1 and R&B crossover hit "Never Would Have Made It" is back with his eighth album, "Here I Am." Recorded live at the same Michigan church where Marvin Sapp laid down 2007 album "Thirsty," the singing preacher once again delivers powerful and emotional messages focusing on inspiration, praise and spiritual guidance. The joyous fervor of album opener "I Came" sets the pace as Sapp and accompanying singers feed off the energy of the enthusiastic audience. After shifting into revivalist mode on the aisle-dancing praise jam "Fresh Wind," Sapp taps back into the uplifting lessons of "Never" on the album's encouraging lead single, "Best in Me," as well as its deeply moving title track. In a surprise move, a fearless Sapp upends the proceedings with the rock-veined anthem "Praise You Forever." It's that ability to skillfully stretch convention without compromising his gospel roots that makes Sapp such a vital force.--Gail Mitchell

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