ANTHONY BROWN & GROUP THERAPY
If you had the chance to create your dream album, what would you do? Anthony Brown and long-time vocal group, Group TherAPy, have created their dream project, a self-titled CD that encapsulates their musical and personal journey. It is a rare thing when a freshman album so perfectly defines an artist – from the opening note of the sweeping ballad to the poignant ending, Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy, give you their all on this project.
Anthony Brown & Group TherAPy is the debut project from the best-known 'new' artist in Gospel music. Brown, widely recognized for his amazing songwriting and vocal arrangements, has collaborated with several artists from Maurette Brown Clark and VaShawn Mitchell, both of who appear on the new project, to Myron Butler and Donald Lawrence. Having supervised vocal arrangements for TV specials and provided background vocals for live recordings, Brown's skills are expansive.
Brown now puts his remarkable gift to work on his own CD. The gift of finding and putting together vocals translates into an album diffused with chemistry. There is something special on this project, with Brown on lead and a vocal ensemble, Group TherAPy that is arguably one of the best in the genre. Their unity, love and passion come across and bring joy to the listener. Simply, you hear their heart on this album.
The group began in early 2000, called Answered Prayers. Brown, who had been attending Morgan State University, initially put together the group as a way to showcase songs he had been writing. "I wanted to have a vehicle to showcase some of the songs God had given me," Brown said. "I was hearing different singers and different voices ... voices that didn't seem to go together well, but collectively it made a sound that was worth hearing."
Out of Answered Prayers came, the current configuration now called Group TherAPy (the capital letters AP a nod to the old name), and represents Brown's mission. "I want God to use us to answer people's prayers through music," he said. "I also want it to be therapeutic ... that's where the new name came from. I wanted to bring together really talented, really anointed singers and give them a safe place to heal. Our music is therapeutic for the listener and it is just as therapeutic for us to be together to share our gifts and our lives with one another. There is no judgment ... no one is looking down on us. That's what you hear on the record."
And what you do hear is a collection of 12 songs, filled with impeccable vocals, led by Brown's strong tenor, both are rich and captivating. There is an abounding joy on this album; and a sense of fun that is rejuvenating.
Brown joined forces with Grammy nominee & Award winning artist VaShawn Mitchell and Tyscot Records to release ANTHONY BROWN & Group TherAPy. Via Mitchell's production deal with Tyscot the partnership was born. "VaShawn is a brother, friend and mentor to me," said Brown. "I initially planned on releasing this album independently and sent him 'Testimony' to get his feedback. He called me that same day and said he couldn't allow the world to NOT hear that song. He got Bryant Scott on the phone that day and the rest is history. VaShawn is a true champion of people ... he's a rarity in music today."
Brown's influences are varied and many; and the listener gets the benefit. You will hear his classical training and love of 'Broadway' on the opener "Group Therapy," as well as on "Overflow," a clear homage to Richard Smallwood.
There are also enough upbeat tunes to keep you moving. "I Will Be," the encouraging jam defies you sit still and features Brown's mentor VaShawn Mitchell and "Do It Again," a joyous and melodic song with a delightful groove. While "Better Days," offers a bit of contemporary pop combined with old-school choir modulation making it perfectly Gospel. "Those modulations are what I heard when I was growing up," said Brown. "I wrote this song to remind people that their latter days will be better than their former days."
The enthusiastic and high-energy lead single, "Testimony" just makes you feel happy. It's the kind of song that you play in your car and just go. Brown says he wrote as a way to remind himself of God's greatness.
"I was feeling overwhelmed ... a little down. And sometimes when you're in between seasons you forget the things God has done for you. I wrote this as a reminder. A declaration ... I wanted to re-live the great things God has done for me in the past; remind myself that I have a reason to be thankful. Everybody has their own testimony ... their own reason to be thankful."
"Water," offers an eloquent metaphor that "was completely birthed out of worship." The lyrics: "Your presence is water ... Come fill me," are beautifully crafted. "I was playing at a service and the worship was so high ... I started to hear the melody and I felt God's presence was literally pouring into the place," Brown explained. "I went home and finished the song that day."
Brown wrote all the songs on the album and one that he's had in his arsenal for while is the declarative "Harvest Song." Inspired by Hebrews 6:10, the song reminds us that God will never forget us. "At the end of the song it says we might not know how He'll do it ... but I know He is going do something," said Brown.
Featured on the song is Maurette Brown Clark, a long time friend and collaborator. Clark gave Brown his first shot when he and Group TherAPy sang for her in a hallway at a late night musical in 2002. Since that chance meeting, Brown has worked on several of Clark's projects including writing her current single "Sound of Victory," and her 2009 hit "It Ain't Over," and has served as vocal director and vocal producer for her live recordings.
One of Brown's favorites is "Deep Enough." The song holds a lyrical depth that is intense and profound. Brown wrote the song from a real and personal place and his transparency is touching. "I was going through a major depression where I knew God had a purpose for me but I felt like I had missed that chance," he said. "Sometimes you feel like you've done so much wrong that the opportunity has passed you by or that you've given up hope. But the song talks about God's love and how IT is deep enough 'to forgive the unforgivable'."
ANTHONY BROWN & Group TherAPy is the kind of debut project that artists often hope for – an amazing album that both communicates Brown's vision and displays his strengths as a singer, songwriter and arranger.