One of the Best Female Vocalist Debuts of 2012! | Posted April 07, 2012 Staff Reviewer
Early last year, I attended a MercyMe concert where a local teenage girl by the name of Moriah Peters was performing as the lights-up act. She'd won a radio contest a few days prior that had enabled her the opportunity to open for the band. She only sang three songs that night, but something about her bright personality and genuine excitement drew the audience in from the first note she strummed on her guitar. Her vocals were clean, her lyrics were authentic and the 13,000-person crowd stood to their feet with an ovation as she exited the stage.
I'd seen plenty of contest winners in her position before, but none had given the memorable performance like she had. I remember hoping there were label executives in the crowd that night, because if anyone deserved to have a record real, it was she.
Little did I know what I do now about the 19-year-old hailing from Southern California. The truth is, Moriah isn't new to the world of music. As a matter of fact, having grown up as a budding singer/songwriter, half of her senior year of high school was spent auditioning for American Idol. Growing up in a devoutly Christian home, Moriah's motives for making music were obviously different than the thousands with whom she was competing--so much so, that when it came to the final rounds of pre-judging for the popular program, the producers eliminated her on the grounds that she was too moralistic.
While that might sound like an discouraging experience, God was already at work making something beautiful out of the situation. Through a series of seemingly miraculous events following the Idol rejection, Moriah was introduced to Wendy Foy of former CCM group Sierra, who got her in touch with labels in the Nashville music industry.
One crazy year later, Moriah is now the latest artist on the Provident Records roster and is making her first big splash in the Christian music world with her debut album, I Choose Jesus, a title that clearly holds a personal meaning for the young songstress.
"I'm so excited about this project--and that song in particular," she explains. "It's the song that represents who I'm called to be, not only as an artist, but as a daughter of Christ. I'm called to be bold. I'm called to be strong and I'm called to speak the truth in love about who God is and what He's done in my life."
"Know Us By Our Love" starts this album off on a high note, with a clear message that people will never know Jesus until we genuinely show them His love. Musically, it's very airy, bringing to mind the musical stylings of fellow female vocalist Jamie Grace.
The quirky "Well Done" will go down as the song every listener will get stuck in their head with it's infectious upbeat melody. It's a bold statement against the world's idea of a job well done, and states that the only "well done" worth hearing is from the Creator Himself. "Sing In The Rain" takes the popular motto of learning to dance in the rain and runs with it in a fun yet convicting manner: "We all want the easy way, no one ever prays for pain, they'd rather live the charmed life, but like a seed in the earth, if I'm gonna grow, it's gonna hurt, but after, You'll bring sunlight…"
The moving title track, "I Choose Jesus," stands apart from the rest of the album, serving as an intense moment of whole hearted abandon. It will become a powerful anthem for believers struggling with naysayers in their lives and serve as a solid reminder that the reason we can chose Jesus, is because He first chose us.
"We Haven't Even Kissed" is a sweet love song and an openly personal track, Moriah having taken an outspoken stance to wait until she's married to have her first kiss. It will become an instant hit among the girls in her audience and shares a great message regarding romance and purity--a refreshing change from the message mainstream culture is sending young women.
"All The Ways He Loves" is a genuine pop hit talking about the love the Father has for us. "Glow" takes a bold stand against apathy and reminds believers that they are means to be the light shining in the darkness, while "Miracle Of Love" is a melodically autobiographical tune sharing Moriah's salvation story.
"No Shame" is a song that every listener with resonate with. It talks about someone who has regrettably repeated a sin they swore they'd never repeat, only to feel like they've fallen too far from God's grace. The chorus becomes lullaby-like as it offers the powerful yet true reminder that there is no shame in Christ, and in Him, we can find endless mercy and eternal forgiveness.
The album comes to a close on a profound note with "Bloom," the standout track on the record and one of the most original pop songs CCM has seen in quite some time. Beautifully haunting, the lyrics serve as a reminder that no matter the storms you're enduring, the sun will shine again, and your life will bloom as a result of the rain. This song has a ton of potential for outside exposure and I hope to eventually see it released as a single.
Thanks to voices like Adele and Sara Bareilles, the uprising of organic female pop artists in recent years has been nothing short of phenomenal. In a world that screams "sex sells," these women are finding a great deal of success due to their refreshing concept of depth and class. While discretion has never been an issue for Christian music, the same musical mantra of "less is more" is finding its way into more and more female vocalists' albums. Among many of these women, Moriah Peters serves as a breath of fresh air--taking the same ideas as her counterparts, but spinning them a fresh, youthful and creative way.
I Choose Jesus is quite possibly the best debut from a female vocalist Christian music has seen since Francesca Battistelli's My Paper Heart back in 2008. Musically fun, relevant and inspiring, Moriah's passion is evident on each track and her personal convictions coming as the driving force behind the lyrics take each song and send it soaring to new heights. This will undoubtedly go down as one of my top 10 albums of 2012, and I hope to see this debut catapult her to the same level of success the aforementioned Battistelli found with hers.
This is a shimmering start for what is potentially one of the greatest careers CCM has seen in years, and it will be a treat to sit back and continue to watch Moriah's musical journey unfold. If this album is any indication of her future, I guarantee it will be nothing short of spectacular.