The nine-track album reveals fresh interpretations of classic hymns with a Pentecostal-Americana flavor. It opens with the fervor of a front porch summer jam session on “Storefront Medley.”
From humble beginnings in 1976, Tyscot Records has developed into a leading Gospel label and a highly recognized and respected African-American business, all under the leadership of Bishop Leonard Scott with the late Pastor Craig Tyson. Originally financed by Bishop Scott's salary as a practicing dentist and designed to record a church choir from Pastor Tyson's father's church, Tyscot was at first not taken seriously by the Gospel music industry. But a pivotal moment came when a pastor from a church in Cleveland, Ohio - Rev. Bill Sawyer - trusted Tyscot to take over the distribution for his Christian Tabernacle Choir 's live recording, Something Old, Something New. Says Scott, who recently spoke with SoulTracks about this moment, "He (Sawyer) had a lady that was in her nineties who used to be a nightclub singer that was singing the lead on "Jesus Lead Me Near the Cross." The album, released in 1983, became a hit and the industry started paying more attention to a label that was finally making its presence known.
The true turning point for Tyscot when a then unknown talent yet soon-to-be contemporary gospel groundbreaker joined the label. "We picked up a demo tape from a young man from North Carolina who became the number one artist in America and his name was the Reverend John P. Kee," states Bishop Scott. Since then, several other notable acts have joined the Tyscot family including Deitrick Haddon & Voices of Unity (V.O.U.), Lamar Campbell, Lucinda Moore, The Rance Allen Group and Ann Nesby. Besides working behind the scenes at Tyscot, Bishop Scott recorded several live praise and worship projects; many that focused on traditional hymns (Hymns for the Nation, Hymns & Church Songs Live from Alabama, i.e.).
Scott's son Pastor Bryant Scott has been a major force since Tyscot's early days; whether packing records to go out to the DJ's or sacrificing his dental school studies to join the label on a full time basis in 1988. As for Tyscot's durable history, Pastor Scott attributes the label's success to an unwavering faith in Christ: "You can work hard at something but when you are in ministry; when God breathes on it; it is amazing when something comes out of the blue, something from out of left field." Furthermore, Pastor Scott believes Tyscot's latest release, My Worship Experience, was another of those God-breathed moments: "As a response we were getting from the industry and from the Christian community, this is a product that was needed."
The goal for bringing My Worship Experience to the forefront is by merging music (mostly consisting of material written by Bishop Scott) with spoken exhortations, which lend a fascinating continuity to the overall praise and worship atmosphere. And the Scotts were very selective in who they chose to participate: "We wanted people whose spirits we're going to be right. We did not want to have divas who just wanted to sing and do the runs," states Pastor Scott. My Worship Experience launches with the explosive-Latin laced, "Did You Come to Praise Him," accented by a fierce handclap and percussion exchange during the bridge. Lucinda Moore's vocal presence commands the room within an instant as in the case of "The Joy of the Lord," while the busy score blends rock, pop and funk lines. One of the enjoyable surprises on My Worship Experience belongs to the usually charismatic Deitrick Haddon, who stirs the soul in a mellow way with "You Alone Are God." Joann Rosario-Condrey provides two integral contributions: "The Prophetic Worship," a piece she co-wrote which she emphasizes "is not on the program" and the contemporary jazz whisperings of "Give Your Life to Christ." Ernest & Ericka Jackson's rich vocals and believability throughout "I Worship You" intensify the mood of worship. Bishop Scott's effortless tenor voice lends creditability to "Greatness of Your Love," which flows with an old-school R&B/jazz flair, and "When the Music Stops," a quiet exhortation on how to connect with God without the dynamics of instruments.
While My Worship Experience's cutting edge format in blending music, sermons and testimonies (especially from Pastor Scott about procrastination) should keep the listener focused in the worship zone, there still are a few missteps. The biggest disappointments are the vocal arrangements behind the motivational spoken word piece "Extraordinary" and the unimpressive closing track "New Praise." In many instances, the in-house choir's subdued voices are overwhelmed by the guest music ministers. Despite a superstar cast that features Campbell, "I Need You Now" does not quite generate the passion expressed on "Are You Listening," the megastar production from Kirk Franklin in support of the Haiti earthquake victims.
Even with the hits and misses on My Worship Experience, Tyscot Records may be setting a new standard for the future of live praise and worship recordings. According to Pastor Scott: "The mere fact that this project is on the shelf and that people are listening to it will hopefully get some of our churches to adapt to this format and see how effective this is for their own worship services."