CD/DVD Review: Fear Not Tomorrow (Collingsworth Family)

Just two years ago, I was saying this about the Collingsworth Family:

The Collingsworth Family doesn’t have years of mega-hits. In fact, other than two or three of Kim’s piano solos, they have few if any songs instantly recognizable to a casual Southern Gospel fan. But this video shows their special talent at taking what may be, on average, 3.75 to 4 star material and putting on a 5-star program. (From the Your Ticket to Music Hall CD/DVD review.)

But last year, they released their first album of 5-star material. So it is safe to say they had a high bar to meet with a DVD of songs largely drawn from The Answer.

Knowing this, they pulled out all the stops. They filmed in high definition and brought in a live orchestra of members from three Michigan symphony orchestras (as the project was filmed in Flint, MI), including strings, brass, and woodwind sections, and a harp player—and Wayne Haun, who created and produced the original arrangements, to conduct them. They also had a live band with a bass guitarist, drummer, and additional piano player. This is the first Collingsworth project to have an additional piano player—and they made a stellar choice in Stan Whitmire, as he is a pianist who can shine but chooses to blend into the background and leave the focus on the featured vocalists.

The song list is largely drawn from The Answer; there are also two new songs/arrangements, an exquisite acapella rendition of “Take Time to be Holy” and a new Kim Collingsworth piano solo, “The Holy City.” Kim only had one piano solo on The Answer, “Great is Thy Faithfulness”; it is also rendered here, as is “Meeting in the Air” from 2003’s Strength for the Journey.

The cinematography and lighting is excellent and nearly flawless; one cut-in shot of an oboe player at 1:19:06 (79:06) is squished from a widescreen to a narrower fullscreen aspect ratio, but the error is minor enough to not be all that distracting.

There is little point in a song-by-song commentary, as most of the songs have already been discussed in detail in the review of The Answer. The songs are already memorable, but these live renditions make them unforgettable. Though Southern Gospel tracks are frequently fully orchestrated, there have been only about a half-dozen single-group live videos with a full orchestra. (A few Gaither Homecoming videos have a small strings section). Between the orchestra, the live band, and a guest pianist, the Collingsworth Family had musicians on hand to replicate virtually every note found on the studio renditions live. This is how Southern Gospel videos should be recorded.

Fear Not Tomorrow had a high bar to meet. But it doesn’t merely clear the bar; the impeccable song selection and the exquisite audio/visual production quality raises the bar for Southern Gospel videos.

Produced by: Jim Hammond. • Group Members: Phil, Kim, Brooklyn, Courtney, Phil Jr., and Olivia Collingsworth. • Review copy provided. • Song list: I Shall Not Be Moved (Daryl Williams, Marty Funderburk); Ever Gentle, Ever Sweet (Stephen Adams); The Meeting (Mae Taylor Roberts); Oh the Thought that Jesus Loves Me (Wayne Haun, Lyn Rowell); Count Your Blessings (Daryl Williams, Wayne Haun); The Good Ole Days (Jamie O’Hara); Bottom of the Barrel (Phil Collingsworth); Take Time to be Holy (William Longstaff, George Stebbins); I Want a Principle Within (Charles Wesley); When the Roll is Called Up Yonder (James Black); Fear Not Tomorrow (Carolyn Atkins); I Know (Gerald Crabb); Great is Thy Faithfulness (Thomas Chisholm); Jesus is Still the Answer (Lanny Wolfe); Wonderful Grace of Jesus (Haldor Lillenas); I Want Jesus More than Anything (Don Marsh); The Holy City (Frederick E. Weatherly, Stephen Adams). • Average song rating: 4.3 stars. DVD rating: 5 stars. CD rating: 5 stars.