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  1. #1

    Merry Clayton, Beautiful Scars [[Motown Gospel)

    Not sure if this was posted before:

    The powerful voice of Merry Clayton returns on Beautiful Scars, a poignant new album that reunites her with legendary producer Lou Adler. Beautiful Scars is the singer’s first album after an accident in 2014 robbed her of both her legs but not her spirit, determination, and voice. It merges gospel and soul as only Clayton can do, on material including Donny Hathaway’s “A Song for You,” Chris Martin’s “Love Is a Mighty River,” and Diane Warren’s title track.

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  2. #2
    Vocalist Merry Clayton’s musical story was articulated in the Oscar-winning 20 Feet from Stardom, a documentary about backing vocalists on countless classic rock, pop, soul, and gospel hit records. Clayton’s duet with Mick Jagger on the Rolling Stones’ “Gimme Shelter” in 1969 is a prime example. Before that appearance, she’d been a professional for nearly a decade. In 1962, at the age of 16, she duetted with Bobby Darin, then joined Ray Charles’ Raelettes. Since then her voice has graced literally hundreds of charting and legendary recordings. Between 1970 and 1975 she issued three albums for producer Lou Adler’s Ode label, and a pair of excellent gospel outings, 1980’s Emotion and 1994’s Miracles. In 2014 Clayton was in a car accident and suffered the amputation of both legs below the knee. She spent five months in the hospital, but responded to the news of her loss with gratitude when told she could still sing. The following year she appeared on Coldplay’s “A Head Full of Dreams.” Beautiful Scars was co-produced by Adler and Grammy-winning gospel songwriter, vocalist, and instrumentalist Terry Young, who contributed five songs to the set. It opens with a new read of Leon Russell’s “A Song for You.” Clayton initially covered it on her 1970 debut album, and she and her late husband, the great saxophonist Curtis Amy, chose it as their song. Adler honored that by dubbing in Amy’s original 1970 saxophone solo. Clayton’s performance affirms that her voice has lost none of its suppleness, elasticity, or passion. She follows with a rousing version of Sam Cooke’s “Touch the Hem of His Garment,” fronting a gospel choir a cappella, showcasing her power and authority. “Love Is a Mighty River” was penned for her by Coldplay’s Chris Martin. A piano, Hammond B-3, and South Africa’s Soweto Gospel Choir underscore her conviction and positivity. Likewise, Diane Warren penned the powerful title track for her. Clayton’s delivery is initially soft and subtle, but she gradually ratchets the song into a soaring, anthemic testament of hope and faith. She’s surrounded by tasteful strings, electric guitars, processional drums, and cascading keyboards. She rocks the house with Young’s stomping “He Made a Way.” Its riveting tempo, combined with Clayton’s muscular delivery, revels in the influences of Dorothy Love Coates and Mahalia Jackson. The soul-gospel of “Oh What a Friend” frames that voice in swinging horns, funky wah-wah guitars, and shimmering percussion. Clayton croons above it, offering a stirring expression of spiritual gratitude. Beautiful Scars closes with a glorious medley of Stuart Hamblen’s “It’s No Secret What God Can Do,” the Five Stairsteps’ “Ooh Child,” and Jackie DeShannon’s “Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” sung in duet with her teenaged granddaughter Kyliyah backed by a strident gospel choir.
    Beautiful Scars is glorious. It’s not a comeback album but an astonishing new chapter in the book of Clayton’s epic life.


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Ralph Terrana

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