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      Gospel, Christian
      MICAH STAMPLEY Ransomed With a higher sense of purpose and ministry focus than ever before, Micah Stampley is poised to command even greater attention with Ransomed, his third live album and yet another milestone in one of the fastest-rising careers in all of gospel music. Produced by the maes... read more
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      MICAH STAMPLEY Ransomed With a higher sense of purpose and ministry focus than ever before, Micah Stampley is poised to command even greater attention with Ransomed, his third live album and yet another milestone in one of the fastest-rising careers in all of gospel music.

      Produced by the maestro himself, 10-time GRAMMY® winner and 30-time Stellar Award victor Kevin Bond (Donnie McClurkin, Yolanda Adams), Ransomed was recorded live in Atlanta at Greater Travelers Rest Baptist Church before an ecstatic crowd of more than 2,000, all of whom were treated to a concert for the ages—the type of album Stampley was destined to make all along.

      “The atmosphere was very, very charged,” Stampley says of the experience, captured at the same house of worship Martin Luther King, Jr. once pastored. “We really had a great time. People came with praise in their hearts. At moments there were people weeping. There were moments that were really jubilant. At times people were running around the church. It was really exciting.”

      A big part of the synergy behind Ransomed has to do with Stampley and his wife Heidi, both of whom co-wrote the majority of the disc and relied on a talented 10-piece ensemble to provide top-notch instrumental backing. Together, the minstrels fashioned a contemporary gospel delight—a diverse praise and worship gala that is more than just another live recording; it’s an event.

      With his ministry intentions intact, Stampley wants Ransomed to do more than just blaze musical trails. More than anything else, he hopes the songs leave an imprint in the hearts of anyone with ears to hear—for its message to be an enduring reminder of the life mission he’s been given as an artist, husband, father, and worshipper.

      “There are so many things going on, so many people that are lost in this world,” Stampley says. “This was the work of Christ when he was here on the earth: to reach out to those people. Those who are not sick do not need a physician, so let’s find those that need health and let’s get them well. That’s what really triggered the inspiration for this project.”

      Born in Los Angeles and raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Stampley was one of eight children brought up in a stringent Pentecostal household, headed by his father Richard Stampley, a pastor by calling and a carpenter and craftsman of fine furniture by trade, and his wife Delmarie, a loving mother and homemaker. Together, the Stampleys tried their best to keep their children sheltered from secular music, subjecting them to a steady diet of the greats: Shirley Caesar, the Mighty Clouds of Joy, the Clark Sisters, Andraé Crouch, the Winans, and Commissioned, to name a few.

      For his part, Stampley couldn’t help but be moved by the outside sounds of the world. Just as he absorbed the melodies coming out of the church circuit, he was exposed to the world of R&B and soul music, taking a shine to the likes of Michael Jackson, Billy Ocean, and Cindi Lauper, among others. “Riding on my school bus, the bus driver would play the radio,” reminisces Stampley, who grew up in the Church of God in Christ tradition, “and I just began to go, ‘Ooooh, that’s different from what I hear on Sunday morning.’”

      A choir fixture since a young age, he formed an itinerant singing duo with his cousin Nathaniel, performing at various churches and faith functions around their hometown (as fate would have it, his cousin would go on to become a performer on Broadway, where he now plays the role of Mufasa in The Lion King).

      It didn’t take long for the youthful vocalist and self-taught pianist to develop a keen ear for directing, arranging, hearing, and teaching vocal harmonies. Stampley’s gifting was such that, by the time he was 7, he was leading the choir at his grandfather’s church, eventually taking on the helm of the music ministry altogether during his early teenage years.

      Following high school, new opportunities for music and ministry arose, as Stampley appeared in various gospel-themed musicals in Los Angeles, traveled the world as a featured vocalist with Bishop Earl Johnson, and did more choral work at his father’s church. In this same period, he fell in love with and married his wife Heidi, a kindred spirit with whom he now raises five children— Brandon, 14, Micah, 8, Adam, 6, Mary, 4, and David, 3.

      All this on-the-job training primed Stampley for the big leagues. After beating out thousands to claim the title of the 2004 Stellar Awards National Star Search, Stampley was invited to minister through song at Bishop T.D. Jakes’ Potter’s House, an opportunity of a lifetime that ended up blowing the door open to a celebrated career in gospel music.

      “It was very intimidating,” Stampley says of meeting the megapastor, who had been looking for a male soloist to serve as the flagship artist for his Dexterity Sounds label. “But God really ministered through me. Afterwards, he summoned me to his office and the rest is history.”

      With a new recording contract under his belt, Stampley began work on his national debut for Dexterity/EMI Gospel, The Songbook of Micah, which immediately catapulted him to the forefront of contemporary gospel: the disc shot to the No. 3 slot of the gospel charts, sold in the hundreds of thousands, snagged glowing publicity from the likes of Billboard (“Top 10 Gospel Music Artist of 2005”) and AOL Black Voices (“Top 11 Gospel Geniuses of 2005”), and earned Stampley Stellar nominations for New Artist and Male Vocalist of the Year.

      The flurry of industry and media attention gave Stampley the leverage and resources to strike out on his own. In 2007, he and his wife founded Interface (formerly known as Levitical Records), a multi-platform entertainment company through which Stampley released a second album, A Fresh Wind. Produced by award-winning Aaron Lindsey (Israel & New Breed, Marvin Sapp), that disc too garnered tons of great press and peaked at No. 6 of Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart, where it spent 31 weeks while nabbing two additional Stellar nods for Stampley in the categories of Contemporary Male Vocalist and Praise & Worship CD of the Year.

      On top of this staggering musical résumé, Stampley also carries a unique regal distinction: that of a prince. Recently, His Royal Majesty King Adamtey I, Se Suapolor of the Se (Shai) Kingdom of Ghana, West Africa, adopted Stampley as his son. Since King Adamtey I has no biological offspring, he crowned and rechristened Stampley and his wife as Prince Micah Martey and Princess Heidi Lardjea (the couple hopes to soon build a home and a school for the performing arts with the land the King gave them in the Se Kingdom).

      All of the above sets the stage for Ransomed, a 16-track tour de force that’s bound to enlarge Stampley’s reach in gospel music circles and beyond. From top to bottom, there’s no denying its power: it’s an album the church needs to hear.

      Inspired by 2 Corinthians 4:8, the V. Michael McKay-penned first single “The Corinthian Song” is an uplifting ballad whose arrangement recalls the work of gospel great Richard Smallwood. “I have my faults, my failures, my weaknesses—but there’s a power that’s accessible to me and I know that I can conquer anything if I plug into the source,” Stampley says.

      In the vein of the singer’s breakout single “War Cry,” “Ransomed” is a high-octane, gospel-funk barnburner—a song of delivery that reminds listeners about the irrevocable freedom that can be found in the person of Jesus Christ. Just as electrifying is the keyboard-loaded “Rain,” a rhythmic call to worship that bears the fingerprints of virtuoso Kevin Bond.

      Another highlight is “Lend Your Song to Me,” an ethereal, worshipful number that acknowledges God is the Giver of the gift, while man is simply a vessel ready to be used. The song grows from a hushed whisper into a climactic refrain that pleads with the Spirit to fall like a rushing wind.

      Stampley’s remarkable, multi-octave voice is at the center of “Always Remember,” a take-no-prisoners cover of a song first introduced by gospel legend Andraé Crouch. The track is a testament to Stampley’s breadth as a performer and minister, as he singlehandedly sings, exhorts, and uplifts, while effortlessly carrying the timeless melody.

      Elsewhere, the rousing “Be Encouraged” and the Hawkins-styled “Speak Into My Life” lend credence to Stampley’s church roots, as each song is an accessible slice of Sunday morning—a traditional choral treat that could be easily adapted by local churches and music ministries (for an added bonus, the latter also features Stampley’s three firstborns: Brandon, Micah, and Adam).

      Despite the accessibility and the killer musicianship, Stampley is to deflect attention to the real purpose behind Ransomed.

      “Jesus still saves, still heals, still delivers,” Stampley says. “Many times people think they can’t come to church because they don’t have it all together, but God is a loving, caring, merciful God. He changes not. Whatever you need from him, he’s the only one who can truly fulfill those needs and fill those voids in your life.”

      Categories: Music | Inspirational

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