We are a culture that thrives on action heroes. We love to read, watch and hear about people who have conquered an impediment; our hearts are set aglow with pride when we ourselves have come out of the fiery furnace of suffering unscathed. This is reality TV shows like "Survivor" have chartered unprecedented ratings; this is why Destiny Child's "Survivor" and Reba McEntire's "I'm a Survivor" have topped Billboard's charts. Deep in our hearts we wish Cinderella were more than just a fairy tale; we all want to be redeemed from our evil stepmothers and our mire of sufferings. This is why after all these years Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" still strikes a chord in so many of us. And though Gaynor's "I Will Survive" is easily her biggest song in her career, it's more than just notes and music to her. As she has articulated in this CD's accompanying book "I Will Survive," this song has become her life's mantra. Before Gaynor had recorded her iconic song, she had just lost her mother. Her recording career was slowing itching south when newer artists were already upstaging Gaynor. And just when you thought nothing could get worse, Gaynor suffered a back injury that she had to appear to her recording sessions with a back brace.
This is when she recorded Freddie Perren and Dino Fekaris' "I Will Survive." Not only did the song revive Gaynor's fledging career, but it won her the first and only Grammy Award for Best Disco song. Now, the song has gone through so many permutations that it has been translated in over 20 languages. However, not long after Gaynor recorded her career song, she became a devout Christian. Over the years, she has often tweaked her song's lyrics to reflect her Christian convictions: "I will survive; He gave me life; I stand beside the Crucified One; I can go on; I will be strong; For my strength to live is not my own; I will survive!" Later in her career, Gaynor would even go on to record more Christian oriented songs and albums. And this includes her latest release "We Will Survive," a brand new collection of 7 songs (plus a radio remix of "I Will Survive" tagged on as the album's final cut).
"We Will Survive" finds Gaynor teaming up with producers Bernie Herms (husband and producer of Natalie Grant), Mark Baron, Willie Wist, Jamie Siegel and DJ Shpank. Unlike many of her peers who have adulterated their sounds by trying to sound like a seasoned Beyonce or Rihanna, Gaynor has stuck to what she does best. These are solid and well crafted songs that lean heavily towards the Adult Contemporary Christian balladry with doses of Gospel and dance thrown in. Yet threading through these songs is the theme of survival. Like the dozy of the sounds of a flowing river, the majestic piano riffs of "You're Right on Time" bring a sense of relief to the parched soul as Gaynor sings about how God often saves us from our pains always in the nick of time. While the angular chord changes of "He Gave Me Life" slowly builds up to the song's crescendo where Gaynor shows us she not loss an iota of her vocal prowess as she belts with declarative praise of Christ's finished work on the Cross.
With "I'm Grateful," Gaynor explores her Gospel roots. The brass horns sound, the call and response of her ensemble of her backing vocalists, brings us back to church again as Gaynor leads us into a worship paean of thanksgiving to God for leading us through the tough times. But God's saving love is never individualistic; it translates to how we treat others too. The Apostle John would have been proud of Gaynor and American Idol's Melinda Doolittle's "If I Love You" which translates God's love into human actions as taught in 1 John 1. "I Will Survive" is re-recorded again here under the auspices of producer Bernie Herms. Still sounding as fresh as tomorrow's news "I Will Survive's" empowering message is still as relevant as it was when it was first released in 1979. Yet, this time round, Gaynor brings in a more of a Godly perspective: ultimately, it is because of God we can survive through all our injustices, hurts and betrayals. At the end of day, Cinderella is not just a fairy tale; Jesus Christ has come to redeemed us of all our evil stepmothers, sins and depravities of this world so that we can truly be survivors.