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Gladys Knight: One voice


Who knew Gladys Knight was behind "We are the World" for the 21st century? Only in her version, Michael Jackson and Jessica Simpson don't share the soprano melody, and the coming together is more demonstrative (if only visually) of universal messages of love, faith and brotherhood. Since 2002, the 100-member Saints United Voices Choir (fondly called SUV) has been singing the Lord's praises in as many languages and musical styles as possible. The result is a 15-song debut album that sounds a little too much like the Prophet's boy band. That's right, SUV is another power choir cooked up by the Church of Latter-Day Saints, with a little help from "the queen of soul" Gladys Knight. The CD leaflet is a flipbook of images of Hawaiin, African-American and Caucasian worshippers, all of whom pelt the casual observer with an open-mouthed, overcome choir face. It's a pretty picture, but it doesn't erase any of the elitism that has gone on in the history of the LDS church. And the sound is that of a subdued giant, the vanilla version of voices that could blow the roof off if given an inch. There are moments, most notably in the a capella hymn "Prayer," but most of the album suffers from xylophone jazz and the unresolved problem of trying to be simultaneously staid and hip. It's not bad music, but it didn't fill me up like the Pips. Sorry, Gladys.