Like a lot of R&B luminaries, Regina Belle
cut her teeth on gospel. And like dozens of her contemporaries who set it aside when Grammys and gold records started trickling in, she rediscovered it at a point in her career when the pop charts seemed less scalable. But Love Forever Shines
, the throaty singer's debut gospel album, proves it's never too late to return to the sound that gave you liftoff. "God Is Good," the first single from this hefty batch, will have doubters swaying in their seats, arms up-stretched, and believers belting in the aisles. Like Melvin Williams
of The Williams Brothers
, who guests here throughout, Belle
busts out a spiritual certainty that benefits from maturity. She's an artist who's been there, seen that, and she's saved some of her boldest, most bewitching moments -- see "Almost Slipped," "Can't Nobody" and "Who Touched Me" -- for this record. Jazz, hip-hop, R&B and soul make appearances, but at the end of a long set of praising, cherishing and reaching for the vocal rafters this is a pure contemporary gospel project. Fans of the genre will wish she had abandoned her days of Peabo Bryson
and Johnny Mathis
duets for a walk down this path decades ago.