As a featured member of two of the most beloved Gospel ensembles of the past two decades—-Donald Lawrence’s Tri-City Singers and the duo Ted & Sheri—Sheri Jones-Moffett carved a deep niche for herself in the hearts of Gospel music lovers long before the 2009 release of her solo debut, Renewed. Going on to earn a GRAMMY® nomination, the success of that project firmly established her as one of the great power vocalists of the contemporary Gospel age.
With her sophomore album, Power & Authority—LIVE In Memphis, Sheri confirms the aforementioned notion with an uplifting 10-song project seasoned with her trademark vocal inflections, distinct melodies, and life-changing messages. Produced by Grammy® award-winning producer Myron Butler, the album serves as tribute to her hometown and her musical journey of more than 20 years while simultaneously testifying to this unique moment in her artistry.
“After Renewed, I want every project that I do to tell a story about the space that I’m living in,” Sheri explains. “My mentor, Donald Lawrence, told me, ‘Let every moment stand alone. Don’t try to make the next moment look like this one.’”
In that spirit, Sheri made a bold departure from her creative comfort zone in the studio to embrace the place where she shines brightest – the LIVE stage. While the location of the recording was an intentional nod to the rich musical heritage of her hometown, the date of the recording became an unintentional nod to the roots of her musical experience.
“I woke up the morning of the recording and realized that day was the 14th anniversary of the passing of my very first musical mentor, O’Landa Draper,” Sheri reflects. “I got to the church and I saw O’Landa’s fiancée, Patrina Smith, one of my background singers for this project. I fell to my knees. She saw me and said, ‘I know what you’re going through, and he would be proud of you.’ All night I felt like I got a little extra push from someplace to get this recording done.”
Indeed, Power & Authority is filled with deeply personal touches. Throughout the recording Sheri interacts with her audience by sharing the stories behind the songs she chose and co-wrote for the project. One very special story was the inspiration for the first single, the brassy, upbeat “Shine.”
“My daughter Khady is an infectiously kind, loving kid. She had really horrible teachers in kindergarten and first grade. My husband and I had to go to the school a few times and talk to the principal,” she recalls. “I was so nervous that those things would change my child. My husband said, ‘To the pure all things are pure. Our child knows exactly what’s happening around her, but she’s not letting it change her.’”
The experience would shine light on the direction Sheri should go.
“During that time, Khady was constantly singing ‘This Little Light of Mine’ from her music class.” she continued. “I realized that’s the right approach.”
To open the album, Sheri selected the classic COGIC shouting song, “Keys to The Kingdom.” In signature Memphis style, the energetic cut is filled with powerful horn hits, gritty lead vocals, and a call-and-response vamp.
“I heard that arrangement from a friend named Lamar Simmons about two summers ago. I knew Bishop J.C. White wrote that song, and I thought it would be perfect for the Power and Authority theme,” Sheri said.
Before the audience can catch its breath, Sheri drives the crowd with “There Is No Failure,” one of the most beloved hits from Milton Brunson’s Thompson Community Choir. In grand style, Sheri makes the song entirely her own.
“I used to sing that song as a kid,” she shares. “It was just one of my old, favorite songs. To me, the Tommies were one of the best examples we have of a community choir [and] the theme gave me a great opportunity to display an understanding of what that song means for real.”
From there, the opening piano flourishes of “Wash Me” instantly transport the audience from shouting to introspection. The anthem, written by the legendary Thomas Whitfield and first recorded by Yolanda Adams, has special significance for Sheri.
“O’Landa used to bring Yolanda to Memphis every year. I had a chance in 2007 during the BMI Trailblazers event to pay tribute to Yolanda with that song. It fit perfectly on this project,” she exclaimed.
As a thank you to her fans, Sheri offers a stunning live interpretation of one of the most popular songs from Renewed, the soulful “Grace of God.” She introduces her performance by sharing a story about her young son:
“Jamie has this tendency to ask, ‘What about me?’ whenever I’m doing something for someone else. He doesn’t understand that the things that happen for his sister may not be the best things for him. One day I told him, ‘It’s not your turn.’”
She explains the lesson of that experience by saying, “God has graced me for the place that I’m in. Because I now know to follow my turn, I can continue to have peace and believe I can conquer anything by the grace of God.”
For the album’s closing track, Sheri chose the insightful, deceptively simple “Just Because.” In a surprising creative turn, the song breaks down to a musical reflection of the classic Walter Hawkins song “Be Grateful.”
“I learned that when you start your day off, the way to get greater things is to be aware of what already exists,” she says. “So I wanted to take the opportunity to express the difference between being thankful and being grateful. Thankfulness suggests that there is a direct benefit from something done for you or on your behalf. Gratitude is an awareness of and appreciation for what exists whether it’s for you or someone else. Everyone can be thankful, but not everyone knows how to be grateful.”
With this new album, Sheri Jones-Moffett reflects on the places she’s been while boldly taking the next step in her musical journey. Join Jones-Moffett as she energetically gifts gospel music lovers with the reminder of their true ‘Power & Authority’ via her new live album, in stores April 1st.