Music review: Gloria Gaynor - ‘Testimony’

It’s been 40 years since Gloria Gaynor’s inspiring anthem “I Will Survive” was unveiled to New York radio stations and dance clubs.

The track’s pulsating vibe and uplifting message of empowerment would quickly become one of the signature songs of the disco era and would eventually lead to the New Jersey native being crowned “Queen of Disco” by fans for her impressive string of dance hits.

The 69-year-old singer continues to be a force in music with the release of her new gospel album. “Testimony” is Gaynor’s latest offering since 2013.

“There was a time when I was broken/Didn’t know which way to turn,” announces Gaynor on the opening track “Amazing Grace.” Gaynor adds her own personal touch to the classic track about being delivered from the grip of darkness and despair through a renewed faith that comes from experiencing God’s unlimited love.

With “Back on Top,” Gaynor best describes how she has survived the many obstacles that blocked her path over her career when she confesses, “I took some knockdown punches, but I’m still standing strong/Back in the groove/Got a whole new view.”

Recorded in Nashville, the new arrangements get an added boost from several guest appearances.

MercyMe’s Bart Millard joins Gaynor on the soulful “He Won’t Let Go.” The message of reassurance in knowing that there is a solid rock that will shelter you from every storm is delivered with a relaxed R&B style that calmly replaces doubt with hope and joy.

Jason Crabb lends his electrifying voice to “Singin’ Over Me,” as both Crabb and Gaynor testify to the power of being forgiven and redeemed.

Mike Farris, former lead singer of Screamin’ Cheetah Wheelies, assists Gaynor on a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Man of Peace.” The cautionary tale about being on guard for the wolf in sheep’s clothing is as relevant today as it was when first released by Dylan back in 1983.

For me, the highlight of the album comes when gospel music star Yolanda Adams joins the party on “Talkin’ ‘Bout Jesus.” Adams and Gaynor are accompanied by a funky bass groove and occasional bursts of horns as their stirring voices deliver a rousing message about replacing the corruptive power of money, power and fame for a life focused on love, freedom and mercy.

A comforting close is witnessed on “Day One” with Gaynor tenderly closing out the set singing, “Breathe life into these weary lungs/And take me back/Lord take me back to day one.”

Song after song, Gaynor’s “Testimony” provides an impassioned blueprint for living a fruitful life that is supported by an unshakable faith.

Clint Rhodes is the Herald-Standard music reviewer. He can be reached at clinton43@me.com.

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