Singer, songwriter, and producer Stephen B. Steward is an emerging worship artist whose contemporary worship styling has seen him as one of the genre’s new artists to watch. Bursting onto the scene with his triumphant debut single, “With My Whole Heart,” the high-spirited worship and inspirational gospel music collaboration with GRAMMY® winner/gospel icon Andraé Crouch not only landed him a hit on the Billboard Top Gospel Singles Chart but four 2013 Prayze Factor People’s Choice awards.
ENTER YOUR GATES, the tune’s parent album, plays host to a collection of worship and inspirational gospel music gems made up much like “With My Whole Heart.” Featuring ingredients of fulfilling testimonies, a dash of his unmistakable baritone, and crafted worship numbers ranging from contemporary to traditional, the album’s eclectic recipe combines flavors sure to meet the tastes of all praise-and-worship and gospel music lovers.
An energetic worship experience that takes off full speed from the listener’s first press of “play”, the album starts with its enchanting title track “Enter Your Gates.” Navigating listeners through inspiring narratives of worship, the journey is guided by a prominence of scriptural references. From the Psalm 100:4-inspired “Enter Your Gates” to the John 14:6-derived “The Way, The Truth, The Life,” ENTER YOUR GATES lets the Word lead the way. And, lead it does.
Entering praise pathways where tunes like the album’s animated “The Sound of Heaven” rings as a hand-clapping celebration, elsewhere numbers like “Sing Alleluia,” “I Feel Your Presence,” and “I Repent” employ modest instrumentation to keep the message at the forefront. As all of the aforementioned feature simple, elegant arrangements led by piano or string, the songs opt to leave behind the gloss of numbers like “With My Whole Heart” and instead are carried by Stephen’s supple baritone.
The likes of the aptly titled “Something Special (ft. Adetomi Akinbode),” “Jesus Reign (ft. Candace Moore, Gromyko Collins, Carol Dennis-Dylan, and Belle Johnson),” and “I Sense Your Presence (ft. Candace Moore)” see Stephen team with gifted musicians and singers to impart a worship session strengthened by numbers. But, one of the album’s most notable standout tracks comes in the form of its official second single “Purify My Soul.” A prayer-filled petition for purity, the song’s contemporary decorations only accent the heartfelt lyrics. Calling by name the temptations we face everyday, the song’s bold subject matter make it a daring record for Stephen. Yet, through its vulnerability, comes its beauty.
ENTER YOUR GATES shines as more than an album. It is a musical portal on hand to help listeners enter a place of pure praise and worship.
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