Ray of Light
Posted November 13, 2012
Add Houston-based songwriter, worship leader, and mother of four Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam to the growing list of independent artists using Kickstarter to gather the support of friends and listeners in order to record their music.
For her debut album, Radiant You, Rebekah worked with Marshall Altman who recently produced two records for Audrey Assad. Together, Rebekah and Altman have created a dazzling, remarkable record with a wonderful purity of heart.
The album opens with "Give Thanks to the Lord," a song based on Psalm 118. Joyful and uplifting, it's the perfect place from which to begin a worship project. Rebekah sings: "Let us rejoice and be glad!" And that's just what she will do for the duration of this record.
On "The Glory of It All," Rebekah's voice takes center stage as she passionately vocalizes her choice to follow Jesus and dedicate her life to Him. The music has the right amount of heft and mood to convey the glory and majesty of God. I particularly like the drum work that sounds like a military march or battle hymn.
It's always a challenge to follow up a big ballad without having the next song suffer in comparison. Rebekah handles this masterfully with "Hallelujah, I Love You." Inspired by Psalm 113, the simple song of gratitude is engagingly intimate while still boasting powerful vocals. I found myself belting out the chorus alongside Rebekah.
Title track "Radiant You" is arrestingly beautiful! The song's inventive, effervescent music captures the shining purity of God's love for us. Rebekah's voice is sunny, bright, and brimming with jubilance as she sings: "Radiant You / You are the Way, the Truth, and the Life / I am aglow in Your Spirit / Let Your Spirit shine on me." You're bound to want to put this one on repeat!
Next up, Rebekah remodels the hymn "Be Thou My Vision" by modernizing the melody a touch and adding her own chorus. The resulting track, titled "Be My Vision," is another showcase for her voice. It takes a special kind of voice to convey vulnerability as well as power. Rebekah not only presents both shades within the confines of this song, but as the album progresses she continually pulls the listener in with a genuine expression of her spirit. And once she has your attention, she wows you!
A unique song written with her husband Moustapha, "For You" took years to come to fruition. And how glad I am that the couple finished this exceptional song! Focused on Jesus' sacrifice, it's both a unique Communion song and a moving worship song. The rhythm section supports Rebekah's spirited vocals creating a pulsing, tribal feel similar to the music of Covenant Award winning singer/songwriter Cheryl Bear. This pounding, driving rhythm captures the call of Destiny underlying the Savior's sacrifice. What a song!
After "For You" and its grandeur, "Dream Coming True" is the perfect little ditty to put a smile on your face and a spring in your step. Rebekah's glee is infectious as she pronounces: "You're my dream coming true / Everything that's good in me is made up of You." If you enjoy Francesca Battistelli's "I'm Letting Go," you're sure to love this song!
"This Is My Prayer" is a refreshing moment of prayer that reveals Rebekah's desire for purity of heart as she hungers and thirsts for righteousness. The track's simple, heartfelt intimacy allows listeners to make a personal connection and gives voice to the prayers on their own hearts.
Lovely piano ballad "Only In You" is about finding rest in God. You'll find yourself offering it up to God as you join Rebekah in singing: "In You I find Freedom / Freedom to let go / In You I find Joy / Joy from my soul / Hope for tomorrow / Only in You."
Rebekah's performance on "Breathless" will take your breath away. Although it's sung for a Divine lover, to an unknowing ear it's just a darn good love song. As such, it has limitless potential for media attention. I wouldn't be surprised if it were featured on a television show or included in a movie soundtrack.
As Radiant You draws to a close, "Your Promises" leaves us with a reminder that God is faithful and wants to bless us. Informed by her family's experience, it has taken on added meaning for Rebekah. After Rebekah's mother gave birth to her sister Melinda, who has Down's Syndrome, rather than being disheartened by the voices that surrounded her, as she held her baby girl her mother held tight to God's promises.
Radiant You is a shimmering introduction for Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam. The project is a good blend of giddy pop numbers, thoughtful ballads, and inspired worship songs. In fact, the album is so well-balanced that it's difficult to name a favorite song. What ties it all together is an uplifting, encouraging tone focusing on the faithfulness of a loving God.
I was astonished to read on Rebekah's website that there was a time she doubted her own voice and shied away from singing. Thankfully, God had plans for Rebekah. This was a record that needed to be recorded, and it's a record that absolutely must be heard. It's been some time since a voice has captivated me like hers has on this project. Rebekah Maddux El-Hakam is a ray of light! You'll not find a more fervent, impassioned debut than Radiant You.
View All Music And Book Reviews By Dawno | View Dawno's Profile