Gospel music’s Prince of Praise Byron Cage offers Memoirs of a Worshipper
Byron Cage is a dynamic Gospel music artist; in 2012, he released his ninth CD, Memoirs of a Worshipper, which is worth purchasing if you’re a black Gospel music fan. If you like Kirk Franklin, Kurt Carr, Marvin Sapp, Donald Lawrence, and Israel Houghton, you’ll probably like Byron Cage.
Cage, a multiple Stellar Award winner, has been deemed “The Prince of Praise,” and church folks know his songs like “The Presence of the Lord” and “I Will Bless The Lord.”
At age 49, Cage is at the top of his game right now. Born in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he began singing as a teen, influenced by Thomas Whitfield. In college, he was in the Morehouse College Glee Club. He has served at New Birth Cathedral in Atlanta, Greater Grace Temple in Detroit, and is currently at St. Paul’s Baptist Church in Richmond, Virginia.
The new CD was recorded live at Christ Universal Temple in Chicago, and includes guest Fred Hammond on the song “Victory.” Produced by Aaron Lindsey, Memoirs of a Worshipper sounds a lot like an Israel Houghton recording (Lindsey is known for producing Houghton), though Cage’s audience is almost exclusively black, while Houghton is the go-to “multi-cultural” guy in Gospel.
Cage is known for several things in his music: he does lots of vocal runs, taking a one syllable word and stretching it up and down into multiple syllables; he also talks a lot during his songs, directing his altos and other backing singers to do their individual parts and then having them come together to create a waterfall effect of voices; finally, he is not afraid to sermonize on his recordings– he does two and a half minutes of “black preacha” sermonizing on his “Good Anyhow Intro.” You’ll find yourself enraptured by his dynamic preaching– he quotes scripture and rallies the crowd to respond with excitement over the Gospel. The “Good Anyhow Intro” leads into a re-make of Rudolph Stanfield & New Revelation’s 1990 classic, “He’s Good Anyhow.”
“Great & Mighty,” which clocks in at 10 minutes, is a slow and steady church worship song that declares, “Great and mighty is our God,” over and over. I’m not sure why this particular song was the lead single sent to Gospel radio, since it doesn’t seem like the kind of song you’d hear on the radio. However, my hunch is that Verity Records saw this song’s potential to become a staple in black churches if folks heard it on the radio. It’s a very churchy kind of song, the kind you’d hear before an altar call when everyone’s getting real spiritual, waving their arms in the air, eyes closed, some crying.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the CD ends with a fun, bouncy song called “Troubles Away,” talking about how you can dance your troubles away. It sounds like something out of the early 1960s by Sam Cooke or Chubby Checker. –Mark Weber