The 10 brilliant songs comprising I WIN all touch on some element of winning whether it be a spiritual victory or just succeeding in the game of life. For the first time in his career, Sapp solicited songs by aspiring tunesmiths via Facebook and Twitter. He and his longtime producer, Aaron Lindsey (Israel Houghton, Karen Clark Sheard, James Fortune), listened to over 2,000 songs and picked four of them for the project. ďI kind of feel like itís my assignment to give unknown writers an opportunity to be heard on a national scale,Ē Sapp says. ďOur prayer is that now those names will become a little more prominent.Ē
In spite of putting his ear on so many songs, it was easy for Sapp to pick the ones that fit this album. ďThe songs that I listened to I wanted to make sure I could deliver them,Ē he explains. ďIím a strong believer that you canít sing with passion something that you donít have a conviction about. So I listened for songs that lined up with the direction I wanted this record to go into, and thatís being a winner and understanding that itís not when you cross the finish line but itís that you crossed the finish line that makes you a winner.Ē
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Soundtrack of Victory| Posted April 09, 2012 Marvin Sapp is no stranger to gospel music. Having begun his carrier singing in various church groups, he joined forces with fellow gospel singing sensation Fred Hammond back in 1990 to form the group Commissioned. They released a few albums together before Marvin exited the group in 1996, wanting to focus on a solo career.
Although he’d been singing for a number of years since then, his biggest break came in 2007 with his album Thirsty, which featured his breakout hit, "Never Would Have Made It." The song crossed all divisional lines in Gospel music, garnering him several Dove Nominations, a BET Award, as well as airplay on major mainstream R&B networks. His follow up project, Here I Am would also go on to break records, receiving critical and commercial acclaim from both Christian and secular outlets.
While his professional life was thriving, Marvin’s personal life was about to be shaken to the core. In late 2010, Marvin’s wife of 22 years, Malinda, lost her battle with colon cancer.
The Senior Pastor of a church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Marvin took some time away from music after her passing to reassess his new life. However, in mid-2011, Marvin’s loyal fans were thrilled to learn that he was at work readying his ninth album, I Win.
Taking new material from various up-and-coming gospel songwriters, this live effort, recorded in the heart of Maryland, comes from a personal place in Marvin’s life. Talking about the pain and struggles he’s been met with over these last few years, but more than that, the great hope He’s found in Christ.
"I felt like I needed to make a declaration and be open and honest about how I feel about everything that I’ve had to overcome," he says of the album "because I endured, I won."
A brief intro leads directly into the heavy hitting gospel track "Teach My Hands To War," about fighting the good fight and coming out on top. "I Belong To You" keeps the ball rolling with a high energy praise track, showcasing Marvin’s powerful vocals.
"Never" channels some 1970’s funk while the title track, "I Win," serves as the most personal song, sharing about all the tears he’s shed over the last several years, concluding with the contestant fact that in Christ, we are more than overcomers.
"Glory" starts with an unconventionally fun guitar riff, but turns into a mid-tempo R&B ballad highlighting the splendor of the King. The beautifully moving "The Hymns Medley" takes several of the church most beloved hymns, including "I Need Thee Every Hour" and "The Blood Will Never Loose It’s Power," and turns it into a passionate moment of praise and honor.
The calming "Deeper" talks about breaking out of the norm and going deeper into our relationship with God. "My Testimony" comes as the most powerful track on the project. Clocking in at well over 10 minutes, it sings out the simple truth in Marvin’s life, that because of Christ, he was able to make it though the heartache and turmoil of the last few years. I can easily see it becoming another "Never Would Have Made It" and hope that gains the attention it deserves in the gospel music industry and beyond.
"Do Me Like You" picks up the pace once more and shares the cheerful message of Jesus being the love of our lives. Coming to a close on triumphant note, is "Keep On Movin’," about not looking back, but moving forward to what God has next. It’s a great way to close the album and does so in a way that only leaves you wanting more.
Closing Thoughts: If there is any one message you’ll walk away from with Marvin Sapp’s I Win, it’s that you don’t have to walk through life as a victim of circumstance, but rather, a victor with in the hope we have in Jesus. Melodically, it tends to stick to his gospel centered roots, but does tinker with other musical styles in a fun and mild manner. I hope to see him move outside his comfort zone like this again in future endeavors.
This is Marvin’s most eloquently crafted project to date, both in song and spirit, and it’s a joy to hear him singing again. I truly believe the best is yet to come from this talented male vocalist, and I can’t wait to see what comes next.