It will come as no surprise after hearing Aarika Radcliffe’s chugging new gospel single “Magnify” that the Atlanta, Georgia native’s first experience singing was in her home church. Less surprising still is this, her first public performance was the song “I Surrender All,” since “Magnify” runs along the same theme: Giving yourself over to faith.
Of course, what happened between that initial song and this one is all part of a strikingly inspiring narrative. Radcliffe was scared stiff that day in church, and couldn’t even finish the tune. Yet, she remained ever focused, volunteering for opportunities to lead devotion at school, working hard on her craft.
By her mid-teens, she was singing in local group, even performing on stage in an Atlanta play. Radcliffe went on to become a defense contractor, but she never let go of her childhood dream. These days, she serves as choir director, worship leader and special-music singer at her church in Lithonia, Ga.
So, when Radcliffe talks about heaven-sent focus on “Magnify,” she comes to it with a lifetime’s worth of credibility. The song follows her personal narrative perfectly. Radcliffe starts simply, with a series of initial sparkling tones, but quickly builds toward a thumping beat that propels the tune toward her sweeping message of sanctified reliance: “I don’t know what you came here for, but I came to magnify him,” Radcliffe sings, as a funky chorus of background singer swoops in around her.
By the time “Magnify” settles back into a quiet piano signature, Radcliffe’s central message of channeling every bit of her energy into faith is complete – and she has made a quick impression.
Radcliffe possesses the steady verve of Aretha Franklin, the R&B flavor of Jill Scott and the sleek modernity of Cece Winans – building a complex, intriguing and wholly enjoyable praise sound.
Review by Nick DeRiso
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)