As lead singer K-Ci Haley crooned his way through the Jodeci slow jam “I’m Still Waiting,” he belted out “my arms are open wide, and I don’t have to cry no more.”
Most fans of the multi-platinum R&B group only associated the culminating moment within the song as a part of the 1991 R&B hit. But the church kids knew better. The line was a direct pull from the gospel super group Commissioned classic “Running Back to You.”
The group that influenced Jodeci and so many others in secular and faith-based music will reunite on stage Friday, November 8 at the Fox for the Commissioned Reunion Experience – An All White Affair.
All six original members of the group - Fred Hammond, Keith Staten, Mitch Jones, Karl Reid, Michael Brooks, and Michael Williams – will take the stage in St. Louis along with Commissioned alum Marvin Sapp, nearly 15 years since their last tour.
When Commissioned came on the scene in the mid1980s, they changed gospel music forever – but not just gospel music.
Nearly a decade before Kirk Franklin blended R&B music with the messages of his ministry, Commissioned was inspiring the next generation of gospel and secular musicians alike with their soulful sounds of praise and worship. They were six singers from the rich gospel music breeding ground of Detroit with voices strong enough to lead blended together to create breathtaking harmonies.
Through them came a reciprocated blending of sounds and styles between the church and mainstream music – particularly the R&B male vocal groups. Boyz II Men first tenor Shawn Stockman credits the group as one of his biggest musical influences – so much so that years later, Stockman and fellow Boyz II Men member Wanya Morris contributed as producer/songwriters to Commissioned “Irreplaceable Love” and “They Must Know” on the Irreplaceable Love” album.
Commissioned created a new sound to aspire to – and it stretched beyond the confines of gospel and R&B. In addition to Boyz II Men, Jodeci, Silk and 112, pop super boyband NSYNC has also name-checked Commissioned among its influences.
The sextet teamed up in 1982. Their 1985 debut album “I’m Going On,” Christ-centered lyrics with smooth music and pristine harmonies set them apart among their gospel contemporaries – a combination that made for an explosive introduction to the gospel scene.
The ten-time Grammy Award nominated group released 10 studio albums before they left to pursue solo careers.
Out of the group grew gospel stars Fred Hammond, a founding member of Commissioned, and Marvin Sapp – who joined the group in in 1990.
In 2002, Commissioned released a reunion album recorded live at the Straightgate Church in Detroit, Michigan on October 26, 2001 which brought back many of the group’s former members and featured most of the group’s greatest hits.
“Commissioned Reunion Live,” earned five Stellar Award nominations and a Grammy Award nomination.
“If it wasn’t for the vision of these guys, you never would have heard Marvin Sapp,” Sapp told the crowd when the group played before a hometown crowd at Detroit’s Fox Theater last Friday, according to Gary Graff of the Oakland Press. “Never, ever forget the bridge that brought you over.”
Commissioned Reunion Experience – An All White Affair will take place at 8 p.m. on Friday, November 8 at The Fox Theatre. For more information, visit www.metrotix.com or call (314) 534-1111.