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Thursday, May 14 2009 | 18:35 Buy this now at GoodToGo (B2B)

4841Naomi Shelton is no ordinary gospel singer. Though she, like many others, grew up singing with her sisters in their Alabama church, she has also spent much of her life in the soul clubs around New York, and her 45s, “41st St. Breakdown” and “Wind Your Clock” b/w “Talking ‘Bout A Good Thing”, have long been revered and prized by funk DJs around the globe.

Now, with her first official full-length release coming this May, it’s clear that her singing is equally influenced by both facets of her life. This is soul music – informed by the church, perhaps, but soul music nonetheless, relatable to all. Which means that “What Have You Done, My Brother?”, an uplifting record that conveys Naomi’s energy, her excitement, her love of music, her compassion, is no ordinary album.

But despite Naomi’s place in the forefront – and legendary pianist Cliff Driver, the band’s music director and leader, in the back – the record is very much a group effort. Dap-Kings’ guitarist Tommy “TNT” Brenneck, bassist Bosco Mann, and drummer Homer Steinweiss all lend their talents, while the Queens, Cynthia Langston, Edna Johnson, and Bobbie Gant, remain a constant – and essential – presence, responding to Naomi’s inquiries (“If they take my son, they ship him out to Iraq / Am I asking too much to know when he’s coming back?” she asks, and the Queens assure her, “That ain’t asking too much”), humming along with knowing disapproval as Naomi denounces hypocrisy in “What Have You Done”, an immediately arresting, powerful song, and even leading the way themselves in “I Need You To Hold My Hand” and “He Knows My Heart”.

Naomi may be the star, but the role of all involved is never underestimated. “What Have You Done, My Brother?” is an extraordinary album by a woman who sings directly from her soul, whose experience cannot be duplicated, whose authenticity cannot be disputed. It’s an album whose positivity, no matter your beliefs, is immediately felt. An album that exudes a happiness, and a hopefulness, that is necessary now more than ever.


01. What Is This?
02. What More Can I Do?
03. I’ll Take the Long Road
04. What Have You Done?
05. I Need You to Hold My Hand
06. Trouble in My Way
07. Jordan River
08. He Knows My Heart
09. Am I Asking Too Much
10. By Your Side
11. Lift My Burdens
12. A Change is Gonna Come

The album Naomi Shelton & The Gospel QueensWhat Have You Done, My Brother ?” (Daptone) is going to be released May 29, 2009.

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