Natalie Diane Grant was born on December 21, 1971 in Seattle, Washington. At one point she studied to be a school teacher. In 1999 she released her self-titled solo debut album. She was awarded ‘Female Vocalist of the Year’ at the Dove Awards in 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, and 2012, and is a four time Grammy nominee! People know her for such songs as: ‘Always Be Your Baby’, ‘Awaken’, ‘In Better Hands’, ‘Your Great Name’, and ‘Hurricane’. Her bio says: “Regarded as real, authentic, and transparent, that connection with people puts Grant at the top of the industry with fan engagement across all social media platforms. Beyond her music career, Natalie has been an outspoken advocate for victims of human trafficking since 2005”. Natalie’s latest and ninth studio album is BE ONE (2015, Curb Records). It peaked at #1 on the Billboard U.S. Christian Albums Chart and was produced and arranged by her husband Bernie Herms. The executive producers are: Bryan Stewart, Mitchell Solarek, and Mike Curb.
First up is the title track, ‘Be One’. It is a happy sounding adult pop song penned by Natalie, Becca Mizell, Samuel Mizell, and Emily Weisband. It encourages us to be people who make a positive difference in the lives of others: “It’s time to get our hands dirty/Oh, oh, oh, oh/Be love-there’s a whole lot of hurting/Oh, oh, oh, oh/Calling all hearts, calling all hands/Calling all feet to take a stand/Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come/When we can be one?.../We can be the change-be the hope/We can be the arms that don’t let go/We can be a light in the dark/We are, we are where it starts”. Felicia Barton sings backing vocals on the pop/dance number ‘Good Day’. It emphatically celebrates God’s faithfulness to us: “Ohhh, when everything is changing/Ohhh, the truth is still the same/Ohhh and I know that no one can ever steal it away/I’m gonna dance to the beat of amazing grace/Gonna hold to the promise that You made/And I know whatever’s gonna come my way/You’re here with me and it’s going to be a good day”. Fred Williams is responsible for the string arrangement on ‘King of the World’. It speaks of how we struggle to give God total control of our lives: “Just a whisper of Your voice can tame the seas/So who am I to try to take the lead?/Still I run ahead and think I’m strong enough/When You’re the One who made me from the dust”.
Robert Marvin co-produced the song ‘Love Has Won’ with Bernie Herms. It is strongly influenced by 80’s pop music. It celebrates the fact that Jesus Christ makes us victorious along with Himself: “Lift up your head/The King has come/We know that His love/His love has won/Keep marching on/To the risen Son/His love has won.../His love shines brighter than the darkest night/His love runs deep/His love runs wide/And after all is said and done/His love has won”. ‘Clean’ is the sole song that Natalie alone wrote on BE ONE. Bernie Herms plays piano and The Nashville String Machine is used on this joyful ballad of personal testimony: “There’s nothing too dirty/That You can’t make worthy/You wash me in mercy/I am clean/What was dead now lives again/My heart’s beating, beating inside my chest/Oh, I’m coming alive with joy and destiny/’Cause You’re restoring me piece by piece”.
Bernie Herms and Mia Fieldes wrote ‘Symphonies’, a song of spiritual determination: “I won’t let my fear resound/Chaos you won’t drown me out/Even the downpour is gonna hear my soul roar/Beyond what I can see ahead/Beyond what hasn’t happened yet/Even the raging storm is gonna know my voice/On and on and on and on/Nothing’s gonna steal my song/On and on and on and on/I will bring You/Symphonies/Symphonies/Over and over/With every breath I breathe”. Felicia Barton and Bernie Herms sing backing vocals on ‘Enough’. It is an adult contemporary, modern psalm of praise: “I am known, I am seen/I am carried by the One who won’t forsake me/I am held/I’m not alone/And I know You will never let me go/Your unfailing love, Your unfailing love/It’s all I have, it’s all I need/And it’s enough”.
Sarah Reeves, Sam Tinnesz, and Matt Bronleewe wrote ‘Never Miss A Beat’. It is a pop song of gratitude to our Heavenly Father: “Every second of every minute/Every minute of every hour/There’s not a moment that You look away/You never sleep, You never slumber/I don’t even have to wonder/Whether You care, if You’re right there/You’ve been there all along/Oh, oh, oh/You never miss a beat, beat/You’re holding on to me, me/And there’s nothing out of Your reach/Nothing in my life that You don’t see/You never miss a beat, beat/You’re holding onto me, me”. ‘Ever Be’ is the longest track at 5 minutes and 12 seconds. It includes a harmony vocal by Ashley Guilbert, as well as sweet guest vocals by Natalie’s three daughters-twins Gracie and Bella (8), and Sadie (4). This song builds into a spectacular adult contemporary anthem that declares just how wonderful our God is: “You father the orphan/And Your kindness makes us whole/And You shoulder our weakness/Your strength becomes our own/Now You’re making me like You/Clothing me in white, bringing beauty from ashes/For You will have Your bride/Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame/And known by her true name and it’s why I sing”.
Nirva Ready is one of the background vocalists on ‘More Than Anything’, a reverent song that asks God to give us a deeper, more mature faith: “I know if You wanted to You could wave Your hand/Spare me this heartache/And change Your plan/And I know in a second You could take my pain away/But even if You don’t I pray/Help me want the Healer more than the healing/Help me want the Savior more than the saving/Help me want the Giver more than the giving/Oh help me want You, Jesus/More than anything”. Robert Lowry’s ‘Nothing But the Blood’ was published back in 1876! Here, it is presented in a subdued, mellow arrangement, with new music by Natalie Grant. It reflects on the atonement and it was a real treat for Natalie to have her brother Steve sing on it with her.
Although BE ONE is mainly comprised of pop and adult contemporary sounds, at its heart it is a modern worship album. I recommend it to folks who enjoy the music of artists such as Chris Tomlin, Zoegirl, Taylor Swift (1989), and Kelly Clarkson. This is a very contemporary sounding album! These eleven songs praise, exalt, and glorify Jesus Christ and God the Father. They acknowledge dependence on our Saviour and Maker, not only for our salvation, but our sustenance. Natalie’s vocals are nice to listen to, but she doesn’t belt them out as much as on some of her previous projects. Natalie looks simply stunning on the album cover! I’m rating BE ONE 98%. For more info visit: www.nataliegrant.com, www.hopeforjustice.org, and www.curb.com.
is love shines brighter than the