MANIFEST, the acclaimed Brooklyn-based Christian men’s ensemble, released a new project, A MANIFEST Christmas, on December 2, 2012. The Christmas EP is on iTunes, Amazon, and other online retail outlets.
The unique musical style, striking harmonies and infectious praise that are the hallmark of the group’s first CD, Highest Praise (2011), are on full display on the five-song EP, which features traditional Christmas songs, an original song for the holiday season, and one for the new year. The songs were all brilliantly arranged by executive producer and musical director Shedrick Mitchell (Whitney Houston, Maxwell).
“Silent Night,” a Christmas standard that portrays the atmosphere and wonder of the season, is presented with lush vocal and string harmonies fused with a jazz vamp. “Jesus, Oh What a Wonderful Child,” is a down-home arrangement of another standard of the Christmas season. It offers a foot-stomping, hand-clapping version of this classic tune, all with tight, six-part vocal harmonies. Anyone who appreciates the emotion and counterpart of fusion jazz will be riveted by this instrumental version of the Christmas standard, “Away in a Manger.” The piece is performed by the sensational musicians who regularly accompany MANIFEST.
“What of My Son?” is a pensive, R&B style song that seeks to hone in on the true meaning of Christmas in a commercial world. Written Augustus Sanders, the song features soloist Chaz Shepherd, the renowned actor and singer-songwriter. Shepherd made his name as an actor, appearing on Seventh Heaven, The Game, and Steve Harvey’s Me and the Boys. He starred as Harpo with Fantasia, in the Broadway musical smash hit, Oprah Winfrey Presents The Color Purple, and starred as Curtis Taylor in a national tour of Dreamgirls. Shepard has released two CD projects, The First One (2008) and Love & Truth (2010). Shepherd also stays close to his church roots and has been featured on songs by gospel artists, including LaVal Belle and the West Angeles Mass Choir.
As one year ends and another begins, MANIFEST offers “So Good To Me,” a fusion of the go-go music style made popular by Washington D.C.’s Chuck Brown and the joy of praising God. The song is an irresistible call to celebrate God and features with an infectious percussive, funk delivery and a pulsating horn arrangement. The song was written by the group’s director, Jonathan Hicks.