Lamar Campbell and Spirit of Praise
The Praise Collection - the biography
"I'm a radical praiser," laughs Lamar Campbell who founded Lamar Campbell & Spirit of Praise back in 1995. Since then, the group has recorded four stellar CDs and seen their name value rise via collaborations with CeCe Winans, soul music icon Aaron Neville and even southern gospel legend Bill Gaither. The group's success has given Campbell plenty of reason to praise his Lord. "God's called us all to be praisers," he says. "And it's my responsibility to give God gratitude not just for what He's done for me personally; but just acknowledging Him as King of Kings and Lord of Lords."
For Campbell's fourth and latest EMI Gospel CD, The Praise Collection, he's decided to focus strictly on praise music. In fact, he hopes this will be volume one in a series of praise collections. "I feel blessed to have reached the accomplishments that I have," he explains. "The record is a chance to reflect on His blessings and to give people a taste of what's to come. I feel like God really blessed me and there's an even higher calling on my life. There's another maturity level that's going to come with my songwriting and there's another level of impact that God is blessing us with that's just for us."
Aside from select tracks from their previous three CD's, Campbell says the new tracks reflect his diverse musical personalities. "They represent all three types of music I like," he says. Longtime Spirit of Praise soloist Denise Clark brings a tradition reading to "Just For Who You Are." On the urban tip, there's "Wha' Cha Here 4?" "I wrote that with Danny Weatherspoon," Campbell explains of the musical director for Donald Lawrence & the Tri-City Singers. "He wrote the music, so that came first. I wrote the lyrics and choral arrangement from that. What that says is what we're here for is to give God some praise."
Then, there's an urban slow jam in "I Really Want To See You." Campbell chuckles, "Yeah, it's a slow groove. I like to think of slowing music down sometimes to bring out more of the message. Sometimes you have slow songs that just have nice lyrics to them. Something happens when a slow jam comes on. It's like a slow jam. You're grooving in a way that you can mediate on the Word."
To further show his diversity, Campbell also features two versions of his prior hit "It's All About the Love." He says, "That is like a career song for me. It was a big song then, we came out with the next record and radio had to get off it to get into the next record; but I think there was still some life in it. I think the remix is gonna give it the rest of the life it deserves." The CD features the original live version of the song along with a new bass-heavy remix version.
The project features other urban praise tracks such as "I Need Your Spirit." "Can't Nobody Tell It," "When I Think About You" and "Stand Up On Your Feet." There are also praise ballads such as "Closer," "I Really Am Grateful," "He Won't Let You Down," and "I Really Love You."
Born February 13, 1964 in Indianapolis, IN, Campbell comes from a tight family where he enjoyed the company of three siblings. After graduating from Broad Ripple High School, Campbell attended Butler University. He soon became a music minister and later formed a group back in 1987 and admits to developing an arrogance about the group's success. Rather than be shot down, Campbell disbanded the group and re-focused his life on God's work. He became music minister at Light of the World Christian church and formed The Spirit of Praise in 1995. They signed with EMI Gospel on his birthday and their eponymous debut CD debuted at #21 on Billboard's gospel charts in Spring 1998. They followed up with the hit albums I Need Your Spirit and When I Think About You.
Since the choir's debut, they have toured with CeCe Winans, appeared with Aaron Neville on both NBC's "Today Show" and CBS' "Late Night with David Letterman"; and opened for Bill Gaither's Homecoming concert in Indianapolis. They've toured coast to coast and won numerous awards. As the group now looks its future, the words of a Billboard magazine writer about the Spirit of Praise are undeniable: "The sweet aroma of something big about to happen fills the air."