Bryan Andrew Wilson
Bryan Andrew Wilson
When an artist’s special gift immediately connects to an audience through one powerful song, the musical skies can open up to endless possibilities. On the other hand, if there is an uncontrollable situation that interrupts the gift, the storm clouds can roll in to block those skies in a mighty way. A then eleven year-old Bryan Wilson, who literally sang to the grass in his yard during his “playtime,” electrified the gospel community with his colorful rendition of the classic hymn, “His Eye Is on The Sparrow.” His exceptional vocal skills that was the ultimate highlight from the Mississippi Children’s Choir’s 1994 project, A New Creation, would quickly transition to a Malaco Records contract, thanks to a neighbor witnessing Wilson’s yard performances. It seemed everything in Wilson’s professional career was heading in the oh so right direction; from another solid hymn, “Blessed Assurance,” on his 1996 debut, Bryan’s Songs, that reached the Top 25 on the Billboard Gospel Charts, to working with gospel legends like Walter Hawkins, and earning Stellar and Dove Award nominations, all only two years removed from his solo turn with the Mississippi Children’s Choir. Unforeseen to Wilson at the time was understanding a hardcore reality called puberty that would alter his vocal arsenal as a teen, and the dramatic changes that temporarily impeded—and could have permanently damaged—Wilson’s professional career.
Wilson’s vocal tribulations began during his sophomore Malaco release in 1999, Growing Up. Audiences who were originally thrilled in this gospel boy wonder became more frustrated in hearing Wilson strain for notes that once were very obtainable. Through those obvious storms caused doubting for a season, Wilson decided on a ten-year professional sabbatical, sans some guest recording and TV appearances. That very wise plan and a re-training of his updated vocal chords brought refreshment and renewed purpose to Wilson’s next career phase with several releases under his “Bryan’s Songs” moniker, including contributing his unusual songwriting style, dubbed Bapolstogic, which blends his experiences from various denominational churches and their musical styles. Between the Bapolstogic praise of “Everybody Clap Your Hands” and poignant, personal ballads such as “Just Do Something” and “Still, My Father,” Wilson has truly settled into his career resurgence. Riding on the strength of his Gospel Top 40 hit, “Turning Away,” Wilson (adding his middle name Andrew) releases his latest for JDI Records, The One Percent, an interesting, but mostly satisfying diversified urban gospel package.
The go-go fueled opening, “Victory” (not to be confused with Tye Tribbett & G.A.’s smash), delivers a smooth praise groove. A modern take on the Malaco Records Southern soul flavor with punctuated breaks and gospel attitude drives, “And It’s Over” heeds those to turn their life around in a positive direction after being born again: “I stopped the pity party/And I started laughing hardy/And put a smile on my face.” “Faithful God” flows with organic funky house beats and tight R&B harmonies. Wilson exercises his preaching skills, spiced up with a few scats and soulful growls of praise for “Conqueror.” These fresh stylistic approaches and his unique Bapolstogic premise throughout The One Percent are absolute ear delights.
However, when the mood switches to a more conventional worship vein a la Israel & New Breed, such as the medley: “Show Me Your Glory,” “Set a Fire,” and “With Every Beat of My Heart,” Wilson’s unique tone is somewhat diminished. Yet, these misfires contain just a small percentage of The One Percent, as Wilson embraces his safe haven again with the high risk-taking “Stand By Me,” where the very familiar bass-drenched hook of the Ben E. King soul classic eases into a roots reggae vibe. Another track of worthy note is the surf rock, do-wop graced “I’m Yours.” Of course, Wilson knows how to tug at the spiritual heartstrings with “Turning Away,” a subject that hits home for many Christian believers who have turned their backs on God at various points in their lives.
The One Percent marks one more notch in Wilson’s increasing vocal and artistic maturity from his childhood days of “His Eye Is on The Sparrow” and “Blessed Assurance.” It is fairly safe to predict that the storm clouds that once plagued Wilson’s ministry have completely dissipated. Recommended.
By Peggy Oliver