I was surfing radio stations last week and stumbled on a jazz channel. All of a sudden, they played what sounded like a cool, upbeat Gospel version of the Hallelujah chorus from George Frederic Handel's Messiah. I was pulling into a parking lot and I quickly "Shazammed" the song. I then learned about this awesome album called Handel's Messiah: A Soulful Celebration, a reinterpretation of Handel's famous oratorio. It involves musical elements not just of Gospel, but also jazz, spirituals, ragtime, blues and hip-hop, and the of artistic collaborators of this project include Stevie Wonder, the late Gospel music pioneer Andrae Crouch, and the Gospel choral genius Richard Smallwood ("Rejoice Greatly, O Daughter Of Zion"), among others.
As someone who has had the privilege of singing Handel's Messiah under the professional baton of John Nelson (my college also sang the traditional Hallelujah Chorus every Christmas), I can wholeheartedly recommend this album. Some of these songs would work well for Christmas, Easter, or whatever the corresponding Scripture passage may be, and they could involve either a choir or a multi-vocalist worship team. The Soulful Celebration isn't an improvement or replacement of the original masterpiece, but it is very fun.