It can be brutal terminating a successful musical partnership; as Neil Sedaka once wrote: "Breaking up is hard to do." That was probably what Ted Winn was thinking after two successful CD's as part of the much-heralded gospel duo Ted & Sheri. Ted Winn and Sheri Jones-Moffitt were living a gospel dream, especially following in the shadows of another powerhouse pairing, BeBe & CeCe Winans.
Raised in the church by a single parent and his extended family, Ted Winn was well grounded. His dedication to making music, especially of the gospel kind, also kept him out of trouble. His vocal talent was eventually rewarded by his admission to the prestigious Watkins Overton Creative & Performing Arts School in Memphis , Tennessee . After a two-year stint in the Air Force, Winn's returned to his first love with Kevin Davidson & The Voices, his first major professional stint. Within a short period of time, Winn was confident enough to form his own vocal group Deliverance, a vocal ensemble that featured several former Voices members and Sheri Jones-Moffett. At the same time, Winn was establishing himself as a gifted singer/songwriter, working with such artists as Youthful Praise, The Potter's House Mass Choir and Vision, a group led by one of his mentors - Richard Smallwood .
In a blink of an eye, Deliverance was gone, but the buzz surrounding Ted & Sheri continued to intensify. Ted & Sheri's debut CD from 2001 - the R&B flavored The Healing Starts Right There - won two Stellar Awards, a rarity for an independent release. The highlight of Healing was their rousing rendition of Donny Hathaway & Roberta Flack's hit "Come Ye Disconsolate." Soon everyone wanted to hear and have a piece of this dynamic duo. What followed was a whirlwind of television appearances, church conferences and the immense expectations for a follow-up project. In 2004, Ted & Sheri jumped from the independent to the major label side with their sophomore album, Celebration. The title track written by gospel maestro Donald Lawrence earned a Stellar and a Grammy. Everything seemed to go so right. Unfortunately, the duo was caught in the middle of a record business that went wrong, as the gospel division of their new label Word Records closed its doors.
Sadly, Ted & Sheri split after they lost their record contract - though the split is considered temporary. Yet if there was a silver lining, the breakup was probably a blessing in disguise for Winn to confirm a full-time solo career.
After a five-year waiting period, Winn finally releases the much anticipated debut Balance, a wall-to-wall list of personal inspirations and goals through his twenty years of musical experience. The main question is how does he hold up without that safety net of a duet partner? So far, the public is embracing this Teddy's Jamz/Shanachie Entertainment release. Before Balance hit the streets, the title track was getting significant airplay on soul music radio in the U.K. , and the first single, "God Believes In You," earned a Atlanta Gospel Choice Award nomination as Song of the Year. As for the rest of the material, the hits way outnumber the misses.
There are many gems on Balance, but the highly recommended tracks start with "His Favor," with its interesting melodic twists and turns, rounded off by the magnetic personality of Vanessa Bell Armstrong. Winn and company suitably handle the crossover pop/rock mood of "Moving Forward," co-written by Israel Houghton (Israel & New Breed). "Oh My Soul," inspired by classical shades of Richard Smallwood & Vision, effectively demonstrates Winn's gentler side. But by far, the best moment on Balance belongs to the title track, which is about living a healthy and balanced life, enhanced by the sweet soulful flair of the seventies (think Donny Hathaway and Marvin Gaye). The disc's only true disappointment is the tepid arrangement of "Connected To The Kingdom."
What truly makes Balance so balanced is how Winn easily shifts from the richness of an old school soul stylist to a new school worship leader. The all-star choir of voices including Latrice Pace and Darwin Hobbs also compliment Winn's elegant tenor note for note. Overall based on his initial solo showcase, Winn holds down the vocal fort quite nicely without a duet partner. In other words, the break up of a successful team did not break Winn's vocal spirit.
By Peggy Oliver
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