(Edited from the 2005 news release from Williamsport PA): WORD 2 SOUL MUSIC PROJECT FINALLY RELEASED--URBAN GOSPEL COLLABORATION HIGHLIGHTS REGIONAL
Aspiring lyricist Amy Mintzer did not expect that her "demo sessions" from 2000 would overflow into a full-length, radio ready production, but "The Word 2 Soul Project" is finally on the market.
"Amy tagged me to set up some demos with the goal of shopping for a publishing deal," say main collaborator, musician and producer Johnny J. Blair. "The recordings turned out so good I couldn’t stop some disc jockeys from airing them. We took it to another level and ended up with an entire concept album."
The template of the "W2S Project" recalls concept albums by Quincy Jones or the Alan Parsons Project—where the producers wrote the music and a panel of singers interpreted the songs.
"Every singer brings their own dynamic to the material. Different singers bring different colors," noted Blair, who sang lead and harmony throughout and played most of the instruments. Guitarists Tim Breon (Martha Reeves, Olivia Newton-John, Davy Jones) and Chris Bovard (Blind Chitlin Kahunas) contributed "sizzling" lead guitar parts.
Singers on the "W2S Project" include local talents Janice Todd and Alice Weiler as well as former city residents Autumn Brown a.k.a. Suzu Reign and (sometime back-up singers for Davy Jones) Monette Newsuan and Linda Wheatley. Harrisburg's Lyanna Lusk was also enlisted.
"Even though the sessions were spread out over months, the end results are amazingly unified," said Blair, who has been recording since the 1970s and issuing his own music since the 1980s. His sunny brand of innovative pop and world beat rhythms, layered with gospel and "American-roots music," has reached a global audience (www.johnnyjblair.com
). He’s worked with a "who’s who" of the music business and has a produced string of releases with Davy Jones (The Monkees).
"We have so many Word 2 Soul songs recorded we had to start our own publishing company," said Blair. Other artists are already covering W2S material. Award-winning gospel singer Carol Calloway recorded four titles for her recent CD (www.cdbaby.com/cd/carolc3
Said Mintzer, "Actually, the term ‘songwriting’ is a bit formal. Song-groovin’ or ‘groove design’ might fit more suitably. In conjunction with Johnny, my good friend and talent extraordinaire, the results are form and flow that hopefully others will enjoy and find uplifting. God puts an idea in my head. I make a rough sketch with John. He takes that and, with his masterful arranging and experience, molds something amazing and wonderful."
Mintzer grew up in the small town of McVeytown, PA (next to Lewistown PA—once profiled in Rolling Stone magazine as an all-American city). Her musical influences include The Blue Ridge Quartet, Marvin Gaye and The Jackson Five. She sang in high school and church choirs, took piano lessons and played flute in marching band.
"Someone made me and called me beautiful— God, Who planted the idea of songwriting in the head of my husband Dean, and also in my kids."
Brought up in a United Methodist home, Mintzer was taught to put Jesus and God ahead of the church because He is the Head of the church. She learned that a Christian’s goal is not heaven, but to become Christlike—heaven is the reward. This perspective informs Mintzer’s lyrics.
Mintzer concludes, "’Word 2 Soul’" became the goal: ’To Improve the Groove For God's Kingdom.’ Can we? Do we? You decide." Soundclips and CDs can be found at cdbaby.com/cd/word2soul
Around the time of the FIRE album I released in 2000, there was an explosion of creativity and a corral of talent coming together. From this fruitful period we produced Monette Newsuan's album, and sessions with Davy Jones--notably "When All Else Fails." I always enjoy revisiting this time of my life and remembering the people who were part of it.--Johnny J Blair 4/12.