Adrianne Archie-12/18/1980/Louisville, KY/Soul LinQ Productions
"He That Hath an Ear, Let Him Hear" (HTHAELHH), a reference to Revelations 2:29, and 3:22, is a fitting title for Adrianne Archie's debut album. Gone is the responsibility of the artist to shape her sound to fit the homogenized group called "audience." Simply put, those who have spiritual ears will hear what the spirit says. Moreover, those who have musical ears will find the messenger so, so easy to love.
HTHAELHH is a genius musical revision of church service, in groove mode! (Can you say "The Roots?") The first interlude is a welcome song, which evokes the hugging and handshaking that occurs during black church fellowship. The album also includes devotionals that can be called anything but standard, and songs that pack the power of sermons. The album even ends with an invitation to salvation, in which Archie sings, "Why not take a chance? A chance on love?"
What is a church service without testimonial? "Always on Time," easily one of the most beautifully crafted songs on the album, is Archie's personal testimony about her miraculous recovery from spinal degeneration. In it, Archie adds a witness's whisper to a Dr. Dre-esque beat.
"Always on Time" is just one example of the combination of Afro-Christian adages with other musical influences. Herein lies Archie's genius. In songs like "It is Well," (preceded by Joel L. Goodwin's masterful keyboarding of the original song), "What a Fellowship," and "Saints Go Marching In" (a reprise to "Way Home"), Archie remixes the songs of her foremothers and fathers fiercely, bringing her generation's voice to the church service. These songs, laced with the wisdom and hope of a people forced to endure, are Archie's birthright. HTHAELHH pays tribute to the deacons and mothers of the church who sang their songs from the deepest pit of their bellies, armed with little more than a tambourine and the stomping of their work-worn feet.
Still, Archie is much more than a revisionist. Songs like "Way We Praise," "Aingonlechugo," and "You Never Change" illustrate her originality, her ability to interpret proverbs with a fresh sound. Remix or original, none of these songs would work without Archie's crisp delivery, her incredible range, her willingness to dilute her strong alto to a hush for effect, or her experimentation with rhythm and chant. Words alone can't explain the other sounds-the climbing up the musical scale, the twisting and turning of notes until they are something new altogether, the runs that seem infinite, the notes that start in the diaphragm and dance somewhere between a field holler and a grandmother's hum, the quiet notes sang in a clear falsetto that grow rocks in the throat and make the tears fall free. HTHAELHH is an example of what music mingled with ministry can be.
Adrianne Archie has grown from the pigtailed girl who sang standards with a woman's voice, shifting from one foot to the other, encouraged by church members shouting "Let him use ya!" She listened to their advice, laying "self" aside to become an open-mouth messenger, pushing sinners and self-proclaimed saints to recognize their similarities. In the end, we are all His children; we are all so easy to love.
Influences: Lauryn Hill, Erykah Badu, Kim Burrell, D'Angelo
Shared the stage with the following artist:
Ce Ce Winans 2005, Patrick Lundy 2005, Stephen Hurd, Shea Norman 2005, T.R.U.T.H 2005, Walter Hawkins 2005, Darius Brooks 2005, Kim Burrell, Witness and Detric Haddon 2004, Kurt Carr and The Kurt Carr Singers 2004, Vicki Winnans, Karen Clark-Sheard, Fred Hammond 2001, James Hall and Youthful Praise 2002, Tonex and Marvin Sapp 2002/2003, Remy Shand, Ruff Endz and Nappy Roots 2001, Nikki Giovanni 1998