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Virtue: The Blessed Things in Life are 'Free'

By Mark Weber
Guest Columnist On "Only God's In This," the first song on Virtue's new disc, Free, the three stylish ladies offer a trendy R&B groove where the chorus says: "This ain't about no relationships, not the kinda party that be pop'n Cris', all that bling bling, just leave it where it is, only God's in this." That pretty much sums up how Virtue feels about today's R&B/hip hop music. Instead of singing about getting rich and partying without purpose, sisters Karima, Heather and Ebony bring together several positive, affirming songs meant to uplift, inspire and encourage those who are looking for healing, peace and self-acceptance.

"At this point in our lives, we are growing and we've let go of so many things in order to grow," says Heather. "We made a decision to give our worries and concerns to God. We just felt He was telling us to free ourselves of everything. That's how the title came about -- and many of the songs speak to that -- free of negativity, free of self-doubt, free of whatever it is that holds you back."

It seems like the ladies are very serious about "being real" this time out. Their past CDs have been glossy, but this one seems more transparent.

The best song on Free -- the kind that could be played on both secular and Christian radio -- is the tender acoustic guitar ballad, "You Just Be You," which starts out telling it like it is: "In a world that seems so fake, artificial everything, oh, I just want to be real." Amen? Amen. The song talks about the world judging you and how it's easy to feel insecure. The chorus brings the lyrical payoff, though, when the ladies speak directly to the listener with the words "you just be you."

"You Just Be You" was inspired by Heather's own testimony of being teased for having lighter skin than her siblings. When she'd go home crying, her mom would say "you just be you."

"I had a difficult time growing up and I always used to question why I looked different from my sisters," says Heather. "But over the years, I realized through Christ that He made us the way we are for a purpose. We've got to love ourselves. After all, He loved us first."

When Virtue's not praising the Lord with songs like "Worthy," or thanking Him ("Thankful"), they're encouraging the listener, letting them know "Everything Will Be All Right" and "He's Able."

The Holy Spirit must have recently done a new thing in their lives, because you can sense a fresh anointing. Virtue is more confident and focused than ever.

"You have to free yourself of insecurities -- people or things that prevent you from reaching your purpose," says Karima.

"We've gone back to our roots, straight up singing His praises," says Ebony. "A lot of the songs (on Free) say you are free to worship, free to praise. Once you can be free of things that weigh you down, you are free to be yourself and worship God for who He is."

In a world where Madonna and Britney Spears kiss on MTV to shock and titillate, it's a blessing to see Virtue do their thing without all the "bling bling." Young girls looking for role models should emulate ladies like Karima, Heather and Ebony.

Mark Weber is the author of Christian Music Monthly.


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