Generation Z’s favorite gospel singer, Zacardi Cortez has dropped his third album and he aims for it to touch every generation. “There’s something for everyone,” he says. Imprint (Live in Memphis) (ZetRoc / Black Smoke Music Worldwide) is the Houston native’s most poignant, personal project yet and the first for his own ZetRoc label. “This record is all of who I am, in all the different styles and ways I love to worship and sing,” he continues. “It’s 100% my imprint.”
The thirteen-track collection features guest performances from some of Cortez’s favorite singers such as Kim Burrell, Tim Rogers, and Lisa Knowles-Smith. All those sonic threads mesh to weave an engaging and riveting string of modern songs that reflect the passion of traditional black church music.
Anyone remotely familiar with black gospel radio over the last decade has heard Cortez’ incomparable voice that combines the grit of classic soul men like Bobby Womack and Eddie Levert with the cathartic power of the pulpit. That fascinating combination has hung over Cortez’s clouds of Billboard No. 1 gospel radio hits such as the retro anthem “Oh How I Love You,” the `80s throwback groove “YDIA, “ and the acoustic calm of “1 on 1,” which reigned at the top of the charts for five weeks in 2014. Deep fans first heard his hair-raising vocals on James Fortune & FIYA’s hits such as “The Blood,” “Let Your Power Fall,” and “I Believe” which spent nineteen weeks at the apex of the Billboard Gospel Airplay chart in 2011.
“Zacardi’s voice is his imprint,” says Black Smoke Music Worldwide founder Kerry Douglas who first discovered Cortez when he was just a teenager who loved to sing around H-Town churches. “His voice is leaving a mark on the music industry. When people hear it, they know instantly know who it is because no one sounds exactly like him. His God-given talent has left an undeniable stamp on gospel music.”
“It’s the first time I’ve been able to write or be this involved in a project,” Cortez says enthusiastically. “I wrote, co-wrote, or arranged everything on here to show that I’ve got something to say.” Alongside producers Morgan Turner and Marcus Caylen, he is saying a lot and he wanted to say it live. “Honestly, I think I’m much better live,” he laughs. “I like studio and all of that, but I love the live sound and the raw feel of the stage best. That’s where I’m really in my element.” It shows too.
“It was rough, and it was tough, “ Cortez laughs of completing Imprint, “I learned a lot of things, but I got it done. Also, I’ve got the best team. Kerry Douglas and Black Smoke are on top of everything. Nicole Heyward and the whole Creative Classic team are doing great things. I’ve got so many other people around me who are really helping me and pushing me to the next level.”
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