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JFH Music News Report


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March 31, 2020

Celebrating its 40th anniversary this year, Reba Rambo’s 1980 release Confessions will be released for the first time digitally by Entertainment One on May 1st, with pre-orders beginning April 1st. 

Having earned four Grammy nominations, a Dove Award and ranking in the top 3 best-selling female artists in industry journals for four consecutive years, Rambo had established herself as one of the leading artists in contemporary Christian music. Despite offers to record secular music, she made the leap from Nashville’s Greentree Records to the West Coast-based Light Records, home to artists on the forefront of the edgier side of gospel music including Andraé Crouch and Resurrection Band. Ralph Carmichael, then-president of the label, said “Reba is the most progressive contemporary female artist in the gospel field today. I want Reba to stay in the field and use all the talents God has given her. She can have a tremendous influence.” 

1980 was a prolific year for Reba. Her final album for The Benson Company, Dreamin’, was released in April of 1980 when she simultaneously signed with Light. That summer, Light released The Lord’s Prayer, a full-length album she co-wrote with producer Dony McGuire, which featured herself, gospel icons Walter & Tramaine Hawkins and Andraé Crouch in addition to contemporary Christian superstars The Archers, B. J. Thomas and Cynthia Clawson. The album would win the 1980 Grammy Award for Best Gospel Performance, Contemporary or Inspirational and the Dove Award for Praise & Worship Album of the Year. Additionally, she co-wrote the title track for Debby Boone’s Grammy Award-winning album With My Song.

In December of that year, Light released Confessions, produced by Dony McGuire. Utilizing the best of East and West Coast session players, including Abraham Laboriel (whose credits include Barbra Stresiand, Chaka Khan and Dolly Parton), Jesse Boyce (Shirley Caesar, Mavis Staples, Al Jarreau), Sandra Crouch (Neil Diamond, Janis Joplin, Madonna) and The Waters (20 Feet from Stardom, Donna Summer, Linda Ronstadt), Reba broke out of the adult contemporary motif that her prior albums had set in place. Contemporary Christian Music magazine noted that she had adapted “the contemporary sounds for which her sylph-like soprano is so well suited.” Confessions is, perhaps, most remembered for its closing composition, “A Perfect Heart,” which became a radio hit for the Bill Gaither Trio in 1981 and a congregational and choral favorite, now regarded as a standard. 

Last year, Reba’s breakthrough album, Lady, was re-released by Sony/Provident Distribution causing a re-evaluation of her contribution to Christian music. Country music icon Reba McEntire hailed Rambo as an influence, citing her “grace, style and beautiful vocals,” while music journalist Deborah Evans Price called Lady “a landmark recording in an extremely impressive career.” Reba is collaborating with a series of writers on her first solo album since 1982. She is also completing work on two books, Summit Dancer, a poetic narrative, and an as-yet-untitled collection of stories about the songs of her mother, Dottie Rambo.



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