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Onitsha
Church Girl

Onitsha is a name you may not be familiar with, but she has been an asset to many in the industry, having sung backup for Brian Wilson, Christina Aguilera, Stevie Wonder and currently, Mary Mary.

CDOnitsha teams with the talented producer Shep Crawford to craft an impressive debut on Hidden Beachís Gospel imprint, to generate Church Girl, an album full of neo-soul gems, jazzy hits and some Gospel ballads.

"Come On" is a feel good mid-tempo ditty with that signature Crawford beat along with Ontisha's lovely alto butter vocals. She encourages everyone to join in the joy of serving Jesus — and what fun this number is.

Things get a little funky on "Don't Give Up", a cut about persevering through hard times. It doesnít hurt that the groove is infectious, but the problem here is itís too short.

"He Is" will satisfy those who were wanting more grooves, with its neo-soul edge, organ stylings and hip hop vibe laid to Crawford's hitting beat. Oh, and don't forget Onitsha's sure fire lead and backing vocals.

Onitsha includes songs for the staunch traditionalist, while introducing the neo-soul faithful to the "old Gospel style". Following a recent trend, Onitsha sings with the late Mahalia Jackson on the classic "Search Me, Lord". Crawford successfully meshes the two voices together while adding a nice beat and the B3 organ.

"Come By Here" is a take on the traditional songs as well, with a smooth groove and hot backing vocals by Onitsha.

The ballad "I'll Get Through This One", has the feel of the old SWV hit "Weak", but the lyrics are meant to uplift those who are going through the "roughest of times". On ďGod Is On Your Side" thereís a definite choir feel, as Onitsha becomes overwhelmed in gratitude while Crawford sweetly tickles the ivories.

Church Girl also features an impressive slate of female guest vocalists with Deborah Cox, Coko and Mary Mary making cameos on "My Life". Each lady does her thing, does not disappoint, and will cause much rewinding for studying of each part.

Perhaps the most intriguing song on the album is the jazzy "So Good". Onitsha uses the melody of the Harlem Globetrotters' theme song and brings it to the church and the jazz enthusiasts. Her vocals are smooth but potent as she expresses how good God has been in her life. This one has a solo for the piano, horns and clarinet before breaking out into a jam session for the band that will have musicians clambering for more.

Church Girl is a wonderful debut by Onitsha, and she is sure to make waves in this ever-so-crowded industry.



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Production: Shep Crawford
album release date: April 17, 2007
Hidden Beach


— reviewed by Dwayne Lacy



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