By The Tennessee Tribune
NASHVILLE, TN — After decades spent as the reigning Queen of Disco, Gloria Gaynor is announcing the release of her new gospel album, Testimony (June 7th). Recording for the first time in Nashville with Grammy-winning producers Chris Stevens (TobyMac, Mandisa, Blake Shelton) and Reid Shippen (Dierks Bentley, Lady Antebellum, Kenny Chesney), Gaynor uplifts listeners with a carefully-chosen selection of classic hymns, self-penned songs, as well as a stirring cover of Bob Dylan’s “Man of Peace.”
To work on the album, Gaynor brought together a powerhouse collaborative that includes special guests Yolanda Adams, Jason Crabb, Mike Farris, and Bart Millard (MercyMe), as well as powerful backup vocals from Latrese Bush, Melinda Doolittle, and Jason Eskridge. The project features a lineup of extraordinarily talented musicians: Daru Jones (drums), Drew Ramsey (guitar), Shannon Sanders (keyboards/B3), Jason Webb (piano/keyboards), and Willie Weeks (bass). The group recorded together in the former RCA Studio A in Nashville’s Music Row – the iconic setting where Dolly Parton, Charley Pride, Willie Nelson, and countless other country legends have laid hits down.
The first single from the album, Gaynor’s “Amazing Grace,” will be released on April 12th. Gaynor makes this time-honored hymn her own, delivering it with her signature, blues-drenched style. With this and every track on the album, she deftly walks a tightrope between putting her artistic spin on the song and conveying an absolute reverence for their spiritual essence.
“We are thrilled to be working with Gloria and her team to release her new gospel album; it’s clear that Testimony is a recording that represents the heart of Gloria,” said Paul Sizelove, President of Gaither Music. “Beyond the benchmark production and talent, you hear her soulful vocals and heartfelt expressions and you know immediately that she has lived these lyrics. We are excited to share these songs of hope with the world.”
The release of Testimony comes as Gaynor’s most iconic hit, “I Will Survive,” turns 40 this year. Recorded as the singer was struggling with a paralyzing back injury, the song quickly became an anthem for those seeking courage or proclaiming their strength in the face of adversity.
With “I Will Survive,” Gaynor became the winner of the only Grammy Award ever presented for Best Disco Recording. In the years since, she’s further solidified her status as an international superstar, topping the charts with dance hits such as “I Never Knew” and “I Just Keep Thinking About You.” She’s wowed Broadway audiences in “Smokey Joe’s Cafe” as well as making TV appearances in series such as “Ally McBeal” and “The Wayans Bros.”
As Gaynor has toured and traveled, she’s also taken time to author books and deliver talks as a motivational speaker. She’s been featured as the keynote speaker everywhere from SXSW in Texas to the CCU Women in Philanthropy & Leadership Conference in South Carolina.
With a career in an era where drugs and alcohol were the norm, Gaynor credits God with guiding her through. Over the years, she’s often changed the lyrics of “I Will Survive” to express her faith. Testimony isn’t Gaynor’s first time recording a Christian album; in 2013, she released We Will Survive, a collection of contemporary Christian songs and a remix of “I Will Survive.” To coincide with the release of that album, Gaynor published her second book, We Will Survive: True Stories of Encouragement, Inspiration, and the Power of Song, a collection of stories from people who have been touched and encouraged by Gaynor’s signature song. Her audio recording of the book was nominated for a 2015 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album.
In March 2016, Israel’s Consulate General, Ido Aharoni, visited her home church, the Christian Cultural Center in New York City, to present her with the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Award. One year later, the Library of Congress honored Gaynor by inducting “I Will Survive” into its registry – a sign of the indelible mark that the song – and Gaynor herself – have left on the world. As she tours and speaks to audiences around the globe, Gaynor continues to be an inspiration through her faith, her message, and her music.
This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune.