Sisters are already doing it for themselves. Stepping up to the platform not through bearing their gaudy clad bodies or through some salacious dance manoeuvrings but through their heartfelt singing is a growing sorority of Gospel novitiates. These young and confident ladies are here to prove that you don’t have to sing about lust over the latest beats to be cool. And you don’t have to be Miss Pole Dancer of the Year to be able heard. Rather, this is a new generation of young lasses who are all sold out for Jesus Christ singing out their hearts in worship through their fresh and innovative sounds. Over the last couple of years, we have seen graduates from such a class such as Tasha Cobbs, Jekaylyn Carr and Alexis Speight. Now we have 21 year-old Ruth La’Ontra (pronounced “la-con-tra”) who has already been making splashes beyond the Gospel music realm. Way before the release of her debut record “So Good,” her song “I’m Love with the Man” has already been included in the soundtrack for the movie “Iniquity.” And her current single “Count It All Joy” has been already a Gospel radio darling.
Hearing the birth story of Ruth La’Ontra is like re-experiencing the Biblical story of the birth of Isaac all over again. Before Ruth’s birth, her parents Bishop Arvetra and Ruth Jones already had a son as well as daughter. Thinking that their family was already complete, Ruth Jones had her tubes tied. However, one Sunday morning during a worship service, there was a prophet by the name of Sylvester Walker who prophesied that they would have another baby. Just like Sarah in the Bible laughed when she was told she would bear a child in her old age, Ruth Jones laughed too in disbelief as her tubes were already tied. However, three weeks later, Ruth Jones was pregnant with her miracle daughter. And from a tender age of only 2 years, Ruth La’Ontra had already been singing her heart out for the Lord. Now, we are finally blessed to hear her debut record “So Good” helmed by Bobby Fann for Tyscot Records.
For starters, the album titular “So Good” is by no means hyperbolic. Rather, these 11 songs here live up to its title in that many of them are birth right out of La’Ontra’s own trials and tribulations. “Speechless,” for instance, came about after her aunt Lilly Chavis Durtch suffered an aneurysm and died whilst La’Ontra was just in her final year of High School. Rather than raising her fist in defiance against God for her aunt’s death, “Speechless” finds La’Ontra taking refuge in the praises of her Savior. And it’s in such a context of worship she has become “speechless” at the mercy of God. With frenzied drumming and ferocious sounding guitar blasts, La’Ontra combines elements of hard rock to her brand of Gospel shout-outs on “Thank You.” Setting James 1:2 aflame with her multi-octave range, La’Ontra takes us to church with her single “Count It All Joy.” Here we get to hear her at her vocal best roller coasting from those sky scraping highs diving into some of those richly textured lows. While on the title cut “So Good” La’Ontra gets to slow dance with Jesus on this lush sweeping ballad with a sound that recalls Diana Ross in her 70s balladry best.
Nevertheless, the best song on this record is the must-hear “I’m in Love With This Man.” With some jaunty jazzy leaps, a chorus of sopranos, some lounge piano swirls, “I’m in Love With this Man” sounds like it could have been written in the time of Gershwin and Sinatra when melodies have an eternal air to them. And though the title sounds like a love song to a man; but if you listen closely the “man” La’Ontra is crazy about is none other than Jesus Christ. Also, in the same league is the worshipful mid-tempo “In This Place;” a song that will definitely get us singing to no time. “So Good” is an album that is going to ground La’Ontra on solid ground. Just like Tasha Cobbs, Tamela Mann and other Gospel ladies, La’Ontra has proven once again that if music is to make an impact for the sake of God’s kingdom, it’s not in the way the artist dresses or moves, but it’s in being a sell-out for Jesus Christ.