Album Remarks & Appraisals:
Storyboarding the 2010 feature film, Blessed & Cursed follows the characters' trials and triumphs with urban and contemporary gospel flair. Helmed by the ever-capable Deitrick Haddon, this motion picture soundtrack features standout performances from the dynamic Voices of Unity with Damita, Deitrick, Men of Standard's Lowell Pye, and Destiny's Child alum Michelle Williams.
"There is no denying that Deitrick Haddon can hold an audience captive when he first starts singing. For someone who once claimed he was shy as a child, his soulful tenor pierces the heart the second one experiences his voice. Haddon was only eleven when he first soloed with the adult choir at his church; only two years before he was chosen as the choir director. And like his musical endeavors, when he approaches other tasks, Haddon handles his business with no less than one-hundred percent effort. Of course, this comes as no shock because Haddon's keen creative flow has made each of his recordings highly anticipated events. Born in Detroit, one of the trademark cities for gospel and R&B, Haddon was stirred by the best of both worlds from Stevie Wonder to Rance Allen. The visionary singer/songwriter and choral director's imaginative musical arrangements and bold personality turned the gospel world upside down when he first made his presence known in the mid-nineties.
On Haddon's collaborations with Voices of Unity (members from Haddon's home church Unity Cathedral of Faith in Detroit), their modern R&B/funk/soul punch dramatically changed the course of contemporary gospel choirs (check out their debut Come Into This House-1995and Live the Life-1997).As a solo act, Haddon's countless significant moments was filled with exciting funky praise jams like "God is Good" (from Crossroads in 2004) and "Go with Me" (from Revealed in 2008); and sophisticated soul ballads which conveyed vulnerability ("Sinner's Prayer" from Lost in Found in 2002) and chastised the body of Christ in their complacency ("Heaven Knows" from 7 Days-2006). Haddon also reworked classic hymns into a soulful praise and worship opus including Bill & Gloria Gaither's "Because He Lives" Hon the 2000 CD Nu Hymnz: Live from the Motor City; and paid an on-point tribute to gospel soul pioneer Sam Cooke with "A Change is Gonna Come," featured on the 2005soundtrack of Gospel. With all those accomplishments, Haddon joins the expanding list of Detroit's certified gospel talent: Commissioned, The Clark Sisters and the Winans family, to name a few. Though his music explodes with high doses of hip-hop,R&B and funk, Haddon's uncompromising hard-hitting lyrics expresses his unabashed faith in Christ.
These days, this musician and minister can add acting and filmmaking to his plate. Debuting in a starring role for Blessed & Cursed, Haddon spins his version of the Saul & David story in the Bible's Old Testament. The accompanying soundtrack unites V.O.U., Haddon, and independent gospel music stars that are already making an impact. Once again, Haddon injects his urban music magic while sprinkling several other musical elements. The debut single, "Judah (Let Me Hear You Praise)," features V.O.U. soprano Clareta Jackson in an electrifying lead vocal topped with a funkified Haddon aftertaste. "Praise in the House" anchored by Lowell Pye and Jessica Reedy (Sunday Best)brews traditional gospel praise with a contagious steppers groove. By the way, I swear Pye is embodying a bit of Rance Allen... coincidence,maybe. Eric 'Bishop' Taylor's husky, emphatic voice on "Zion (Let's Go Up)" accents the bumpy hip-hop rhythm track. The techno-edged "I'm Blessed" with Haddon's fervent attitude of wrestling the devil and all spiritual enemies, drops a reggae dancehall swerve. Haddon's other solo, the eighties/nineties R&B flavored ballad "Don't Leave MeNow," reaches back to his vulnerable side a la "Sinner's Prayer." Those who yearn for V.O.U.'s golden days will feed off of "One Touch," a duet with Deitrick's wife Damita and Sean Hardin. Another of Haddon's strengths is finding new voices that urban crossover audiences should appreciate. Three examples are the unsigned group Suzie Rock's stylish pop/rap of "So What" (that plays over the opening credits on Blessed & Cursed); Rock Nation's strong soulful rock sensibility on "Anything is Possible"; and singer/songwriter Cylas's poignant subject matter of dealing with sinful nature ("Over Again"). Amongst the soundtrack gems, Damita's "Breath Away" and Shekinah Glory's"Most High" do not quite match the excellence of the aforementioned tracks.
I also had the opportunity of watching the actual Blessed & Cursed DVD (premiering in late July), which was packaged with the soundtrack CD. The storyline provides a strong teaching tool for churches. Yet, as much as Haddon invests full effort to portray his character with integrity, unfortunately that character limits his chances to stretch his acting skills. However, with or without another movie in his future, Haddon is still one of the most original gospel communicators ever as evidenced from the Blessed & Cursed soundtrack, and there is no sign of him slowing down for a long time to come." -TheurbanmusicScene
"Deitrick Haddon draws inspiration from the biblical story of Saul and David in his upcoming movie, "Blessed and Cursed," a film that finds a man fighting through adversity as he works to achieve his God-ordained purpose.
Working as a first-time writer and actor on the film, released Tuesday on DVD, Haddon still managed to craft a 12-track musical backdrop for it.
Haddon fearlessly proclaims his faith and his disdain for anything that stands between him and God's will for his life with bold lyrics complemented by a genre triple threat: R&B, funk and soul. The Detroit native ditches all restraint on "I'm Blessed," the opening track and most powerful tune. "I got the Word in my hand just like a knife/I'm gonna cut everything's that's anti-Christ!"
Haddon's wife, Damita, tackles some R&B-like solo vocals on the ballad "Breath Away," but those tender moments don't last long before Haddon turns up the volume to prove that God is in charge on "Most High."" -HamptonRoads
"I interviewed a vocalist who comes from a church background for my day job as a reporter. I had to interview her for a story I was doing on an upcoming concert. One thing she told me about the benefits of being a church musician or vocalist is that an artist who can perform gospel can pretty much sing or play anything. That statement came to my mind as I listened to Blessed & Cursed, the soundtrack to an upcoming movie that stars Deitrick Haddon.
On Blessed & Cursed, Haddon and the Voices of Unity move with ease through a variety of gospel genres, ranging from rock/hip-hop fusion to hip-slapping gospel. The album even includes a ballad. Haddon's name may get top billing, but he shares the spotlight with other singers and gospel hip-hop artists on most of the tunes.
Lowell Pye, who gained notoriety as a member of John P. Kee's New Life Community Choir before co-founding Men of Standard joins with Jessica Reedy on the energetic old-fashioned foot stomping song "Praise In the House." On " ZION (Let's Go Up)," Haddon does a 180 degree turn on a jam that combines ultra modern technology and techniques with lyrics that extol the virtues of old landmark praise and worship.
The rap/rock fusion "So What" is one of the high points on Blessed & Cursed. The featured vocalist on this song is rapper Suzie Rock w ho strikes a defiant tone as she takes a principled stand on her refusal to sell out. Suzie Rock proves to be a clever lyricist who can connect seemingly disparate concepts to make her point that she is going all out for God ("I'm sold out like a Cheetah Girls concert"). If she doesn't go platinum "so what." While the verses on this song bring some hard-core hip hop, the chorus morphs into some of the fastest paced and intense hard rock I've heard in a while. This song is a real gem.
The album makes another turn with the pensive contemporary Christian tune "Over Again," a cut that distills the emotions of regret, guilt and pleas for forgiveness into one song.
The Blessed & Cursed album is the musical vehicle for Haddon's film debut. The publicity describes Blessed & Cursed as a film that gives the biblical story of David and Saul a modern twist. We can only hope that the film is as good as the soundtrack." -SoulTracks
Audio Mixer: Todd Fairall.
Liner Note Author: Deitrick Haddon.