With each performance or album Robert E. Person takes his artistic gift to a higher realm of creativity and excellence. Whether through weekly cantor duties at his church, special appearances at venues like Hard Rock Café, singing background for pop music star Josh Groban or ministering in song for The Pope during his U.S. Papal visit, Robert continues to brand and prove himself to be one of the nation’s premier Gospel, Jazz and Classically skilled vocalists.
Taking another ingenious step higher, Robert announces a new album CLASSIC COVERS. The first single from the album is “I Give You Praise”, an original composition by legendary pianist and songwriter Richard Smallwood (“Total Praise”, “Center of My Joy” and “I Love the Lord”). Richard Smallwood’s repertoire was a significant part of Person’s young life and now the Washingtonians unite on this classic gospel song first released on Smallwood’s PORTRAIT album in 1989 (Word Entertainment).
“I released ‘I Give You Praise’ over 28 years ago and wrote it almost 40 years ago. It is one of my favorite songs and it feels great to teach, record and release it again,” Smallwood shares. “To mentor and collaborate with the younger generation of singers and musicians like Robert is important because our gifts are not our own, they are God given. We have a responsibility to reach back and sow into the next generation.”
Listen To “I Give You Praise”
“Singers record and perform cover songs all the time and having the opportunity to re-make a song with the original artist is rare,” says Person. “Recording with Richard Smallwood was a dream come true, a blessing, and a huge responsibility because he is the consummate musician.”
This collaboration is one of a kind that doesn’t happen often enough in gospel and/or jazz music. It’s an impressive partnership blending Person’s gorgeous vocals with Smallwood’s signature style of beautifully arranged classical and sacred piano music. And, to continue bridging the generation gap in music, Person enlisted the young, dynamic vocals of Roderick Giles & Grace whose musicianship and commitment to excellence is reminiscent of The Richard Smallwood Singers.
“Robert’s execution is absolutely beautiful. His vocals are on point and Roderick’s vocal work is awesome,” says Smallwood. “Thank you (Robert) for doing such an amazing musical interpretation of the song. You guys really did it justice!”
So, as we continue to celebrate African-American Music Appreciation Month (Black Music Month) in this month of June, it is crucial that we appreciate and encourage music education and performance. Even more so, we must embrace and inspire collaborative creative efforts between generations, genres and cultures just as Robert E. Person and Richard Smallwood have offered.
“I Give You Praise” is available June 16 on all digital music outlets. The CLASSIC COVERS live studio album and DVD will be available early Fall 2017.