One wonderful word comes to mind again and again when listening to George Huff’s superb new self-titled album. And that word is “encouragement.” With the undeniably bold song, “He Can”, Huff assertively proclaims that God keeps all of his promises, and does so in mysterious ways only he can. This winning theme is reasserted many times over, however, with other equally supportive tracks, like “Turn It Around” and “Don’t Let Go”.
Yet, in stark contrast, every time you turn on the news these days they’re doling out an endless litany of discouraging stories, which makes Huff’s musical message the essential antidote to our troubled times. “Be encouraged/Oh my brother/Be encouraged/Oh my sister,” Huff nearly whispers during one called “Don’t Let Go”. This is, without a doubt, most comforting music to discouraged ears.
“I want to continue to write music that inspires and encourages the hearts of everybody,” Huff asserts. “God will do what he says he will do, and that is to prosper you and also allow you to be in great health. That’s what this CD is all about.”
Many may fondly recall this powerful vocalist for his role as a finalist on the third season of the omnipresent American Idol show. His post-American Idol debut, Miracles, may have revealed Huff’s gift for creating state of the art gospel/R&B, but this new disc finds the singer letting loose and having fun – lots more fun. It’s an album that lets listeners get to know Huff better. It also showcases a Huff who is steadfastly unashamed of praising his God.
“The Bible says that if you deny Jesus here on Earth, he will deny you before his father in heaven,” Huff explains. “The freedom of being able to express who I am and what my religious background is and who I believe in, brought about this freedom as it related to how I sung the music. I want people to enjoy the spontaneity that came along with me expressing my love for Jesus.”
Huff expresses this loose-fitting artistic freedom most profoundly on “Turn It Around” where he can be heard asking playfully, “Where the horns at?” before exclaiming, “Sounds mighty good!” This feel-good track’s thumping bass and punctuating horns make beautiful soul sound so easy and natural, which is exactly the way Al Green used to do it back in the day. Elsewhere, over a hand clapped rhythm and staccato rock guitar, Huff declares “I’ve been set free” during one called “Free”. He sings this one with absolutely no holds barred, like a man who is truly free.
Huff has always exhibited the ability to successfully collaborate with other songwriters and producers in creating the music he hears in his head. This time out, he worked with two special producers. One, Aaron Lindsey is best known for his work with Israel Houghton, the other, Jamiene “J-Skills” Thompson, is one whom Huff describes as a “26-year-old rising producer.” But even with all this musical expertise, Huff was still inspired to finish what he started, so to speak. When he came up with the inspiration for “He Can”, Huff said to himself, “’I’m going to finish this song, no matter what.’ This was one I did at my house then brought it to Aaron Lindsey to produce it.” Therefore, Huff’s freedom even extended to the point where he felt comfortable finishing a song he started writing, for the very first time.
So how does Huff remain so consistently encouraging? Well, for one thing God was encouraging him all along to simply be himself. “God was telling me, ‘George, if the people don’t know you by now, they’ll never know you, and you don’t have to be afraid to just really show who you are and what God called you to be.’”
Whether one is an insecure teenager or a corporate climbing businessman, pressure is always coming at us from all sides. But George Huff has come along side with those time-tested, encouraging words, “if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.” Therefore, if liberation could ever be illustrated in a movie, George Huff’s music would most certainly be its soundtrack.