Harlem Records to Release Gospel Album 'Hey Jude', 4/29

Harlem Records to Release Gospel Album 'Hey Jude', 4/29

Harlem Records announces its first full-length album release. The Harlem-based independent record label that previously released the Cissy Houston EP "Walk on By Faith" in May 2012, and the Gospel for Teens Choir extended CD-single "Yes, We Can" in November 2012, will release the "HEY JUDE," a full-length collection of never-before released gospel versions of classic pop songs. "HEY JUDE" will be available for download on iTunes beginning Tuesday, April 29, 2014. Founded in 2012 by Vy Higginsen (President & CEO), Harlem Records also announces that Knoelle Higginson-Wydro, who has officially joined the burgeoning label as Vice President, will oversee the release of several full-length gospel albums via iTunes throughout the year.

Produced by Ms. Higginsen, "HEY JUDE" features gospel versions of hit pop songs from the late 1960s to the early 1980s. "HEY JUDE" features covers of three Beatles hits, a John Lennon classic, and songs originally made famous by artists such as Ben E. King, Carole King, Quincy Jones and Benard Ighner, and Gladys Knight. The numbers, performed by members of Ms. Higginsen's New York Harlem Gospel Choir, were originally recorded a decade ago as part of Ms. Higginsen's deal with Toshiba EMI. This release marks the first time that the collection will be available in the United States. Many of the performers were featured in worldwide productions of Ms. Higginsen's musical Mama, I Want to Sing. One of the featured soloists is pop legend Doris Troy (1937-2004), the writer and performer of the pop classic "Just One Look." Ms. Higginsen's sister, Troy was the inspiration behind the musical Mama, I Want to Sing.

According to Ms. Higginsen, "I am excited to share this collection of great gospel covers, especially the ones originally performed by the Beatles, with America. Fifty years ago, that iconic group took this country by storm. Around that same time, my sister Doris, was a singer living in London, signed to the Beatles' Apple Records, and as a young woman, I had the pleasure of being in a studio with Doris and John Lennon and Paul McCartney. It was a thrilling experience, and I have been moved by their artistry ever since. For me, this album is above all a celebration of that moment in time. A tribute to Doris, the Beatles and other great artists of that era . . . the musicians who shaped my generation."

"HEY JUDE" track list:

1. Hey, Jude (5:46) -- By John Lennon / Paul McCartney

Soloist: Richard Tipton

2. Let It Be (5:48) -- By John Lennon / Paul McCartney

Soloist: Mariyah Minyon

3. All You Need Is Love (5:53) -- By John Lennon / Paul McCartney

Soloist: Tyrone Flowers

4. Imagine (3:42) -- By John Lennon

Soloist: Tracy Jenkins

5. Stand By Me (4:53) -- By Ben E. King / Jerry Leiber / Mike Stoller

Soloist: Dejahnee Richardson

6. Every Breath You Take (3:59) -- By Gordon Matthew Sumner

Soloist: Maurice Lauckner

7. Everything Must Change (5:14) -- By Benard Ighner

Soloist: Melanie Price

8. You've Got A Friend (6:44) -- By Carole King

Solist: Ronald Grant

9. (Jesus Is) The Best Thing That Ever Happened to Me (5:59) -- By Jim Weatherly

Soloist: Doris Troy

10. Gospel Medley (5:32)

Songs: Charles Hayes, Public Domain

Soloists: Darren Page, Melanie Price, Dejahnee Richardson

Backed by members of the New York Harlem Gospel Choir:

Sopranos: Knoelle Higginson, Mariyah Minyon, Melanie Price, Rae Selmon

Altos: Takeytha Johnson, Sherelle Lindsay, Dejahnee Richardson, Andrea Sanders

Tenors: Tracy Jenkins, Stephon Jones, Darren Page, Sonja Price, Richard Tipton

Engineered and edited at SoundBox Studios in New York City, "HEY JUDE" was executive produced by Vy Higginsen and Ken Wydro, and co-produced by Tommy Sakon. The music direction, choir conduction, arrangements and musical tracks are by Bernard Corbett.

"HEY JUDE" will be the first full-length gospel release by Harlem Records this year. Founded in 2012 by Vy Higginsen, the Harlem-based independent record label previously released the Cissy Houston EP "Walk on By Faith" in May 2012, and the Gospel for Teens Choir extended CD single "Yes, We Can" in November 2012. This year the label will release, for the first time in the United States, a catalogue of gospel albums which were originally recorded as part of Ms. Higginsen's deal with Toshiba EMI in Japan. Ms. Higginsen's musical first introduced American gospel music to Japan when the show first toured the country 25 years ago. Since that time Ms. Higginsen has returned to Japan for numerous tours of various production, the most recent being the 25th Anniversary tour of Mama, I Want to Sing in December 2013. Since that first production 25 years ago, American gospel music has become a beloved art form in Japan.

As part of this cultivation of the art form in Japan, Ms. Higginsen released five gospel collections for Toshiba EMI between 2000 and 2005. Harlem Records will now make these recording available for the first time in America, releasing them through iTunes throughout the coming months. In addition to "HEY, JUDE," (April 2014) upcoming releases will include "LET THE MUSIC PLAY GOSPEL" (May 2014), "AMAZING GRACE" (June 2014), "OH HAPPY DAY" (July 2014), and "SING HARLEM SING" (August 2014).

Born and raised in Harlem, New York, Vy Higginsen is an award-winning author, publisher, playwright, and media personality. After numerous accomplishments in publishing, she spent a decade behind the microphone at major New York radio stations. Known as The First Lady of WBLS Radio, she earned the distinction of being NYC's first black female radio personality in primetime at WBLS, as well asthe first woman to host a New York radio morning show at WWRL. In 1983, Vy co-wrote, co-produced and co-directed, along with Ken Wydro, the gospel musical, Mama, I Want To Sing. The longest-running African-American Off-Broadway musical in history, the show ran for eight years and went on to be performed on stages throughout the U.S., in London's West End, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, the Caribbean and Japan. In 1998, Vy created the Mama Foundation for the Arts to present, preserve, and promote Gospel, Jazz, and R&B as an art form for current and future generations. In 2006, she founded Gospel for Teens, a free musical educational program for young people which was profiled in an Emmy Award-winning "60 Minutes" segment in 2012. The award-winning Gospel for Teen Choir has gone on to perform in venues locally, nationally, and internationally.

Knoelle Higginson-Wydro made her stage debut at the age of seven, and has graced stages across the United States, in Europe and Japan, thrilling audiences worldwide with her powerhouse, multi-octave voice. In addition to appearing in various productions of Mama, I Want to Sing worldwide, she is the Executive Program Director for Gospel for Teens. Having recorded vocals for Harlem Records first two releases, she is thrilled to now be the label's Vice President.

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