If the Grammy-winning ensemble Sounds of Blackness has its way, the third millennium will be filled with peace, love and understanding, along with plenty of R&B, funk, blues, hip-hop, gospel and swing.
Promoting the message and the music is "Reconciliation," the group's new album, a stylishly produced collection of affirmative songs designed to inspire listeners and acquire radio airplay. In fact, the album opens with several big time radio personalities--Donnie Simpson, Walt Baby Love, et al--introducing the group, which is one way of guaranteeing that certain broadcasters will give the disc a spin.
Most of the music on the album, though, deserves the attention, especially when singers Billy Steele and Amy Peterson sing the Lord's praises on "Thank You." Yulanda Lunn, Andrea Tribbit and Carrie Harrington also contribute some stirring vocals, sometimes nimbly prefaced by rappers Lil' Buddy and Double L.
Unfortunately, the album's embrace of diverse musical styles leads to some lulls. The blues is represented by a superfluous interlude, and a Duke Ellington-inspired trip uptown is never fully realized. Yet there's no denying the group's greatest virtues--its enormous spirit and unwavering dedication is evident on nearly every track.
Appearing Sunday at the Warner Theatre.
* To hear a free Sound Bite from Sounds of Blackness, call Post-Haste at 202/334-9000 and press 8129. (Prince William residents, call 690-4110.)
CAPTION: The Sounds of Blackness can do it all, from gospel to swing to hip-hop.