(Music World/Columbia/Integrity Gospel)


Detroit quartet Ramiyah-Sherise Staten, Tracy Bryant, DeLaurian Burton, and Stephanie Bonner-seems to understand the balance between the integrity of traditional gospel music and the cool pop appeal of slick R&B and rap. The self-titled debut CD caters to the tastes of a wide audience without compromise.

It is no wonder how such consistency on a debut project is possible. Ramiyah (the Hebrew word for "Jehova is Exalted") was produced by PAJAM, the powerhouse production team that has also worked with names like *Nsync, Boyz II Men and Hezekiah Walker. The first track, the anthemic "Here We Go," sets the tone for the record. With driving beats, Ramiyah proclaims: If you came here to dance/and to clap your hands/and to praise Him like it's your last chance/can you holla/holla. Complete with a rap interlude that rivals Missy Elliott, the women of Ramiyah prove they aren't just singers with a penchant for tight harmonies; they really can rap as well.

Other standout tracks include the first single (and its remix), "Turn It Out," an upbeat reminder to "turn out" our praises to God, despite how we feel. "Don't Nobody Know," (featuring Karen Clark-Sheard) a song about God's constant provision even when we're at the end of our rope, is especially poignant: Don't nobody know what I been through/there was nobody there/ain't nobody shared/ain't nobody cared what I been through/And then I had to pray/when things weren't goin' my way/so if you see me choke, scream or shout/it's because of all I been through.

Fans of Trin-i-tee 5:7, Destiny's Child or Mary Mary will find Ramiyah to be kindred sisters. Expect to see much more of them in the future. Theirs is a successful career in the making. -A.M.

September Home