Sheri Jones-Moffett, the voice that brought us the smash hit "Encourage Yourself" has been part of our Gospel conscience for the past 12 years. Her path throughout this industry is like a voyage around the world and each stop in her career is like a stamp in a passport marking a new destination and new experience. Without each stop, Moffett would not have become the completed work we hear today on her debut solo CD RENEWED.
The first stop on her journey was the Tri-City area of North and South Carolina. Moffett started her course as part of Donald Lawrence’s now legendary Tri-City Singers, Gospel’s ‘IT-choir’ of the 1990’s. Breaking into the gospel industry, Moffett landed at a place where she could be mentored by one of the genre’s most prolific songwriters and producers, Donald Lawrence. “Donald took me under his wing,” recalled Moffett. “He said he got a very strong feeling in his heart to raise me and train me. And even now with this release I wanted to make sure he saw all that he had given me and I took the things he taught me and put it into action.” The second port of call on Moffett’s journey was being part of Ted & Sheri. Partnered with Ted Winn, they released two critically-acclaimed albums, “The Healing Starts Right There…" and “Celebrate.” .
“I believe there was an assignment for me in both entities … being part of a large choir taught me humility and what it meant to be a part of a team – part of something bigger than myself,” Moffett said. “While being part of a duo I learned how to be transparent … how to cover my partner and have my partner cover me. It’s all been important training for me to get to this place.” This place is the release of her solo record, RENEWED. It’s the culmination of all her lessons learned; the final destination of a life-long trip. “While I knew that it was all leading to this place it was still scary for me,” Moffett said. .
RENEWED breaks down any perceptions that people might have had of whom Moffett is as an artist and reintroduces her artistic intricacies and extent of her range. No matter the style, she gives us precise vocals and depth and offers various styles and textures – whether it is gut-bucket down home church, an inspirational ballad, or pop dance track Moffett never sounds contrived. While listening, you will get the overall sense that she can really sing anything. .
More than just a sequence of songs, the CD is her story in music. Every song comes from a special place in her life and each signifies something she has to say. “Everything you hear is my life,” said Moffett. “These are things I needed to say and I had to say them on my own. I got to that space in my life … I’m now a wife and a mother with two children … I wanted to deal with issues pertinent to me and these are things I had to say on my own.” .
Aptly titled, RENEWED, represents the new place where Moffett is today. “Where the Bible talks about what is old cannot rest in a new place … I couldn’t bring what was old into this new place. The place where we started this record … it’s a whole new way for people to see me.” .
The title track “Renewed” is Moffett’s nod to one of her favorite inspirations – Motown. From the very first Guitar lick, you know there’s something reminiscent to the musicality of that era, while lyrically it speaks encouragement and renewal that just about anyone can connect to. Having written almost every song, it is in this way Moffett strikes a chord with so many people. “I hope to make that connection with people because I am able to put in song what they may not be able to articulate.” .
“I reflected on this time in our history and the signature of the moment … thinking about our new president led to songs on this project,” said Moffett. “Not Too Late to Dream,” is one example and is exactly what an inspiring anthem ought to be. It is a song that immediately connects to everyone – no matter what we are facing or where we want to be. It embodies the hope that we all cling to these days. .
“Free Indeed” is one of those songs that you put on repeat and blast in your car with the windows down. Moffett describes it as a “the Beach Boys meets Outkast” and it is wholly different from almost anything on Gospel radio today. With a bounce and track that sounds completely relevant it is simply get-up-and-dance-kind of music. .
RENEWED is a culmination of a long three year process for Moffett. She offers a heartfelt nod to that struggle of the past few years in a song like “Grace of God.” It is a gospel ballad that showcases Moffett’s soaring and clear vocals that reminds us that we never walk alone. “It’s been a rough couple of years,” recalled Moffett. “The album was supposed to have come out last year … but I was pregnant, I couldn’t travel … and do what I normally do. But after all the chaos and uncertainty what I realized was God gave me the grace to stand through it … God got me through it and in spite of the situation I am going to believe that God is going to keep me and get me to the next place.” .
And although there is a fresh dose of variety on this CD, Moffett never strays too far from her base. The worship-heavy “The Affirmation” and the upbeat praise of “I Feel Your Spirit” are straight up and down church songs that would be perfectly at home on Sunday morning. .
From song to song there is a story being told and it is this narrative structure that gives Moffett ample room to express a variety of emotions. At every turn there is hope, encouragement and God’s faithfulness. “Wonder” an energetic upbeat song in tribute to Moffett’s daughter who was born at just 1.5 pounds and specifically of the circumstances around her healing and her life. “When I first heard the song, the song touched me and I felt like this is the song that I should be singing,” Moffett said. .
“RENEWED" is the continuation of my journey and I just hope that people will come along. I hope that it is both empowering and enlightening … that listeners can peel back the layers (in them) to be the best person that God has purposed them to be,” Moffett said. “I want this album to challenge people as it has challenged me. I want people to say that it made me better … it made me do something … it made me make a change in my life.”