I first saw Tasha Cobbs Leonard sing live in my church's 4,000-seat sanctuary. Her voice easily powered-over the PA system and I was amazed by how well I could hear its beautiful resonance and clarity. Since my producer hat is always on, I couldn't wait to invite her to perform here at the desk. Months later, sitting just a few feet away, I was captivated by the un-amplified brilliance that filled the room.
While her impeccable talent is one of the reasons Tasha Cobbs Leonard is regarded as one of the best gospel singers performing today — she's won numerous awards, including a Grammy — on her website she simply credits "God's grace as the reason for it all."
Her Tiny Desk set started out with one of her favorite songs and her most popular tune, "Break Every Chain," an anthem that reminds many of us that "there is power in the name of Jesus."
Her second song, "You Know My Name," is one Cobbs Leonard wrote a few years ago with South African musician and friend, Brenton Brown. Before beginning she explained that "the song talks about how God knows you outside of what anybody else has called you. Sometimes people will try and speak things over you that God did not design for your life; and no matter what they've said about you, He knows who He called you to be and what your purpose is on Earth." The message was so powerful, many in the audience were moved to tears.
The performance ended with a country-influenced tune, "The River of the Lord," written by her husband, musical director and producer, Kenneth Leonard, along with some of their friends. Originally from Jesup, Georgia, Cobbs Leonard explained that "where I'm from, this is called a hand-clapping, foot-stomping, church song. We're going to clap a little bit, put a smile on our faces and celebrate the river and the joy of the Lord."
- Break Every Chain
- You Know My Name
- The River of the Lord
Tasha Cobbs Leonard: lead vocals; Kennya Miller: vocals; Breona Lawrence: vocals; Emoni Robinson: vocals; Archie "Snoop" Pearson: bass; Wellington "Boo" Britt: drums; Benjamin Forehand: guitar; David Williams II: keys
Producers: Suraya Mohamed, Morgan Noelle Smith ; Creative Director: Bob Boilen; Audio Engineer: Josh Rogosin; Videographers: Morgan Noelle Smith, CJ Riculan, Maia Stern, Bronson Arcuri; Associate Producer: Bobby Carter; Production Assistant: Paul Georgoulis; Photo: Shuran Huang/NPR