Sherry Anne's "Keep on Praying" Album Review

Sherry Anne
(Photo : Sherry Anne)

"He's never know the sound of Jesus' name/Born into a world of silence/Still he came to trust Him just the same.../And though he cannot speak a word/He always knows that he is heard."  These words from Sherry Anne's song "Silent Prayer" are more than mere rhetoric.  Rather, there's a contiguous autobiographical ring to it.  Sherry Anne was literally born in a "(partial) world of silence" where she had problems hearing the sound of Jesus' name.  This is because she was born with a bilateral speech and hearing impairment.  Her adversity, as a result, has at least two positive bearings upon her life.  First, as a result of her own ailments, Sherry Anne has developed a passion in working with children with disabilities.   Second, in terms of her recordings, Sherry Anne has a peculiar sensitive to the details of songs we often take for granted.  Particularly in her choice of songs, she has a keener ear for songs that flourish with the exaltation of God in sufferings.  And she also has a preference for songs that go beyond the veneer to explore intricate emotions and salient Scriptural truths often latent beneath the surface.  "Keep on Praying," Sherry Anne's sophomore record, a collection of 12 cuts consist of one of her composition, a medley of hymns, a few Southern Gospel covers, a Chris Tomlin tune and even a song from the now dysfunctional country duo the Judds.  All of 12 cuts are weaved together by the deft hands of producer Gordon Mote, one of Nashville's most sought after pianist (Jason Crabb, Brad Paisley and Blake Shelton).

If you are a parent with a teenage daughter, Sherry Anne's self-penned "I Only Know to Pray" will definitely strike a sympathetic chord.  Unfolding in a conversational narrative style, the song describes how the protagonist of the song stumbles across her daughter's less-than-decent picture on Myspace.  The song expresses the devastation, the disappointment and also the hope we have in handing our children to the heavenly Father's through prayer.  On the same family tangent is Sherry Anne's take of the Judds' "Grandpa (Tell Me 'bout the Good Old Days)."   A nostalgic nod back to the past, this former country number one song finds the protagonist snuggling up to her grandfather about the times past where lovers stayed together forever, where promises were honored and families prayed together.  More cathartic moments abound with the sensitive ballad "Silent Prayer."  Pitched from God's vantage point, "Silent Prayer" shows how He cherishes the prayers of His children even when they are uttered by a physically challenge child of His.  

Strutting with a bluesy swampy stride is the title cut "Keep on Prayin'."  Here she steps into the shoes of two minor Biblical characters Blind Bartamus and the woman with the issue of blood to illustrate that nothing gives God more joy than when His children persist in prayer.  Keeping in the same tenure is guitar screeching Gospel infused romp "Speak Your Name."  Fans who like a soothing country waltz will love "God of the Mountain." Formerly made popular by the McKameys, "God of the Mountains" is a potent encouragement when we are tempted to let our faith lapse in the valley moments of our lives.  Most interesting is Sherry Anne's take of Chris Tomlin's "I Will Rise."  She has completely placed her own signature seal on it transforming Tomlin's anthemic rock original to fit her own style.

"Wonderful Merciful Savior" though it was only penned in the 1989 has been covered by so many artists (Selah, Anthony Evan and Kim Hill among others) and sung across so many churches that it has achieved a revered hymn status.  Sherry Anne's version is more standard fare where she is backed only by Mote's beautiful piano playing.  "Jesus Oh What a Wonderful Child/Go Tell It on the Mountain," on the other hand, being often associated with Christmas is a little out of place on this record.  Other than that, Sherry Anne's "Keep on Praying" is a carefully crafted album delivered with sensitivity, thought and heart.  Never a whimper of resentment about her own physical afflictions, Sherry Anne has used her impairment to not only encourage the children she ministered to.  But now on record, she has a way of reaching an even larger crowd, crooning into our hearts, "For God hears the sound/When leaf falls to the ground/Or a cry of despair/Though great or small/For He hears it all even if a silent prayer."