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Change the World 
Artist: Bonnie Deuschle and the Celebration Choir 
Label: Hear the Music HMCD05
www.htmafrica.com
Length: 16 tracks/73:11
 
This recording comes from a 12,000 member Celebration church in Zimbabwe that is led by Pastor Tom Deuschle and his wife, Bonnie,  who is in charge of the music program. Recorded live, the disc amply demonstrates the musical talents to be found in the huge congregation.  Bonnie is the "worship leader" on most of the tracks. She has a voice that can easily soar through the musical register with quiet grace or a powerful tone. She gets plenty of help from Andrew Baird, who had a hand in writing half of the tracks plus contributes vocals, bass guitar and virtually all of the keyboards heard throughout the disc. Several of the Deuschle children also make solid contribututions on vocals and with the songwriting.
 
They have put together a disc of praise music that stirs your emotions simply from the interaction of all of the musicians and vocalists. The combined weight of the full band and choir would be impressive even on mundane material. But Deuschle and Baird lay out a strong program that is presented with a contagious spirit full of enthusiasm and love. "The Joy of the Lord" features the children's choir followed by Bonnie Deuschle voice hitting operatic high notes in a dazzling display of her vocal talent. This track segues into "Your Joy" with Jon Deuschle and Tapiwa Mugadza taking the lead on a tune that features guitar power chords backing a mass vocal over a beat that would be right at home in any arena rock show. 
 
Some of the indigenous rhythms appear on "Toimba Ishe" with some lilting guitar work. But any other musical influences from Zimbabwe are buried deep in the mix. A number of songs have a few lines of lyrics repeated numerous times. When you read these lines in the accompanying booklet, you could easily conclude that there isn't enough weight to sustain several tracks, let alone the entire disc. But this aggregation lays down a performance that captures your attention and injects even the simplest lyric with meaning. Listen for the gentle call and response from different sections of the choir on "My Heart Will Trust" or the recitation of the Lord's Prayer by a single voice in the midst of the closing track, "Kingdom Come". The ending section of this song has Bonnie Deuschle's voice leading the choir to majestic heights to the cheers of
an appreciative congregation.
 
The Deuschles have a grand vision of how to make a joyful noise. That vision is seemingly on the scale of a Broadway musical production. But the sincerity of faith that exists in their church, plus the direction of Bonnie and Andrew Baird, create inspired performances from the choir and band that will grab your attention and maybe even
strenghten your faith. 
 
Mark Thompson  8/29/2007
 
 
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