Music review by Luchae Williams
Gospel music newcomer Kelontae Gavin released his debut album on April 27 2018. Titled The Higher Experience, the album made its debut at No 2 on the Top Gospel Albums chart, with it’s first radio single, No Ordinary Worship, reaching No 14 on the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart in May 2018.
The 19-year-old worship leader shot to YouTube stardom when a 2014 YouTube video of him singing the hymn, I Won’t Complain, to a cafeteria worker at his high school, went viral. The video reached over one million YouTube views and catapulted the young singer’s Gospel music career.
Recorded live at Fresh Start Church in Atlanta, The Higher Experience, is through and through a full gospel album, complete with powerhouse vocals from Gavin, guest artists and a notable Gospel choir. The album was produced by TedyP and star maker, Marquis Boone, who is well known in Gospel music circles for his ability to track down and groom promising young artists.
‘The Higher Experience’
The album opens with a stunning acapella intro — a rendition of Donnie McClurkin’s Holy, Holy, Holy, as the choir delivers an impressive, complex vocal arrangement that honestly requires no instrument accompaniment. But, if it’s magnificent musical arrangements that you’re looking for, you’ll be impressed with the quality of production and musicianship found throughout the album. I especially enjoyed the praise trio It’s Working, He Worked It and Praise Break.
I was also immediately drawn in by congregational praise track, We Lift You. The song introduces you to the album’s sound and the worship leader’s stunning vocal range which is undoubtedly reminiscent of the type of Gospel music made popular by McClurkin and the likes. Electrifying and raw, Gavin’s vocal certainly is impressive for someone his age. In fact, you would expect this level of grit and depth to come from a minister twice his age!
The track, In This Room, is a call and response worship song, featuring Gospel crooner, Geoffrey Golden. The song points the listener to the King of Kings and flows into a time of ministry, as Gavin preaches powerfully for a few minutes.
Other notable worship tracks on the album include There’s No One Like You and my favorite song on the album, title track No Ordinary Worship. Gavin delivers a solid vocal performance on the latter, commanding your attention. The song itself is a gorgeous, robust ballad, that says: “This ain’t no ordinary worship/This ain’t no ordinary song/The God I serve is greater than the ordinary/So I’m going to give it all I have in this moment.”
I was pleased to find a new studio version of his single, Higher, on the album. The track is a congregational mid-tempo song that speaks about abandoning your ways for the things of God. For those who are curious, a version of his YouTube cover of hymn I Won’t Complain is also featured on the album.
RnB and Gospel music fundis will appreciate Kelontae Gavin’s sheer grit, vocal technique and the masterful way in which he delivers each song. Gavin’s sound and gifting is definitely beyond his years and it has been such a pleasure to have him minister to me through this album. If you’re looking for a soulful worship experience, this one is for you.