Personnel: Jacqueline Thompson, Sharon Buchanan, Elizabeth Harrison, Gloria Foster, Catherine Rogers, Mona Perkins, Tyshonda Barnes-Melchor, Tara Thompson, Shaunita Cotton-Taylor, Renea Weathington, Mary Stinson, Martha Young, LaVerne Warren, Lauren Thompson, LaTonya Tyson, Kristine Abrams, Kaylee Wilson, Kathlyn Hobbs, Kathlina Gault, Juanita Nkemeh Evans, Jocilyn Hudson, Jautaun Dean, Gaynell Sanders, Esther Dillard, Erica Reynolds, Emma Bowden, Eleanora Porter, Carolyn Walker, Dolisha Pleasant, Deloris Bell, Deborah De La Haye, Christeen Williams, Charmaine Williams, Cathy Rufus, C. Betty Magness, Yvette Green, Willie "Mims" Dixon, Vanessa Wilson, Antionette Williams (soprano); Corey Harris, Isaiah Jones, Emma Daniels, Michael Oliver, Bessie Davis, Lucille Jackson, Tyrone Forte, Steven Kennedy, Rose Bibbs, Regina Walls, Regina Broaden, R.T. Smith, Nadine Parker, Lindrea Ross, Linda Reid, Kenneth Holmes, Kathy Herrod, JoSandra Polk, Joe Davis , Jerome Jobe, Jeanine Rogers, Jacqueline Jefferson, Ericka Gaines, Donald Smith , Debra Massey, Darlinda Rice, Daniel Hibbert, Cynthia Jenkins-Davis, Chiquita Siller, Chad Galloway, Warren Nolan, Wanda Earle, Brenda Estes, Barbara Buckner, Amanda Reed, William Robinson, Erik James (tenor); Isaiah Sharkey (guitar); Rick Robinson (piano, keyboards, drum programming); Terry Moore (organ); Michael Eason (drums, drum programming).
Audio Mixer: Larry Sturm.
Photographers: Matt Kosterman; Darrell Robinson.
After releasing 20 or so albums under the leadership of Rev. Clay Evans, Fellowship Chicago passed the torch of gospel music to Pastor Charles Jenkins, who was a relatively young 34 when it happened in 2010. Still, his respect for the music was vintage, and when combined with his upstart exuberance, the initial result was "Awesome." That aptly titled number gave the fellowship their first number one gospel hit since 1996, and much faster than anyone could have imagined, taking over local church choirs and gospel radio swiftly with its traditional structure, simple message, and wealth of emotion. The album it lands on, The Best of Both Worlds, does not disappoint. Humble and welcoming as ever, Jenkins first pays tribute to the Chicago legacy with a grand "Fellowship Medley" (first song in the medley? "What a Fellowship") before the very 2012 drum machines and funky horn sections come out, rocking "Joy Will" all the way up to highlight status. Tambourines shake and basslines stroll as "A Word for Me" takes it back to the '60s while "Praise on My Mind" pops with that Michael Jackson circa Bad feel, combining bright horns, a call-and-response chorus, and gritty guitars. What anchors it all is Jenkins' deep respect for the Fellowship's rich history and his desire to welcome all age groups. No matter how modern or classic he plays it, this really is The Best of Both Worlds. ~ David Jeffries