Gospel is having a landmark year, and from where I sit, the independent pulse within the genre is primarily responsible. Take Jekalyn Carr for example – recently featured on the Greenleaf soundtrack and gaining a significant following among mainstream secular audiences in addition to the core gospel crowd, Carr’s new single “Changing Your Story,” and more specifically its live music video, are a testament to her growing influence as an artist and performer. She’s got the chops to get an entire arena on their feet, and if you’re listening to her harmonies this season, you’re going to understand what all of her buzz has been about.
The video for “Changing Your Story” was taken from directly from a live performance, and I would lying if I said that watching it didn’t make me want to be there in the audience. There’s a raw vitality to Carr’s singing and the way that the crowd responds to it that is impossible to get out of your heart once you’ve witnessed it for the first time, and from the music enthusiast to the devoutly religious Christian, it’s hard to imagine anyone with an interest in the subject matter – or the substance of the songcraft – not falling in love with this song.
Even when she’s refraining from the spotlight and letting the backing players share some of the attention with her, there’s an ‘it’ factor to everything Jekalyn Carr is doing in “Changing Your Story” that makes it rather difficult to focus on anything going outside of her sphere. She’s got a charm that few of her peers possess, and while her elegance in this track proves that she’s a disciplined recording artist, her actual performance tells me her talent is the sort that cannot be practiced into existence, no matter how devoted the musician.
It would definitely be interesting to hear a stripped-down version of “Changing Your Story” simply to create some juxtaposition and explore what alternative formats Carr can employ when creating music in the future, but this isn’t to say the present mix isn’t up to par – far from it. Her voice is so poignant that it could be intriguing to hear an alternate cut of this track in which her singing was completely isolated from everything else. My gut tells me that it would be just as rousing, almost entirely because of her unmatchable muscularity as a vocalist.
Gospel fans of all ages and backgrounds aren’t likely to top this kind of charisma when looking for inspirational jams this summer, and I would be surprised if the release of “Changing Your Story” didn’t leave some of Jekalyn Carr’s closest rivals – mainstream and indie alike – feeling a little envious. She’s on top of her game and looking to make the transition from the bubble of the gospel world into a broader audience that could seriously learn from her message, and with material like this under her belt, I think she’s going to attain a lot more mainstream credibility in 2020.
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