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You may know Maxine Page Casellas by her hands more than her voice.  She owns “Nails by Maxine,” the quaint nail parlor at 117 South Oxford Street, frequented by the fashionably correct of Brooklyn and surrounding areas. Now,  Maxine has brought her wonderful, strong, seasoned voice out of hiding, wed it to great “heart and soul” music she penned, and produced a  solid inspirational CD, “Here I Am Lord.”  We suspect many gospel groups will cull this recording for new songs.  Our favorites are “Don’t Give Up,” “Jehovah,” “For All You’ve Done” and  “Simple Prayer.”   “Don’t Give Up” is a gem  reminiscent of early Ashford & Simpson, pure and unadulturated soul.  Keyboardist Butch Stewart- floats a funky groove just beneath Maxine’s wonderfully smoky voice.The result is a stone praise-rocker.  “Jehovah” is a new inspirational rendering of the familiar, call-and-response.   “For All You’ve Done’s”  resurrects the work of the great Mahalia.  Close your eyes  and you’re transported through the Diaspora – from the Middle Passage to rice fields to the concrete sidewalk where a wildflower wills itself up through the cracks.  Filmmakers, take note!  Maxine says, “I ventured along many avenues in the music profession trying to find my place.  Soul music, rhythm & blues, rock & roll, all satisfied my desire, but did not satisfy my need to express what was in my soul.  When I started singing gospel music, I found the way of expressing what I felt, on the inside.  Now I know that singing is not only done with my voice, but with my heart and soul.”

“Here I Am Lord” was produced by Ms. Casellas and Butch Stewart, who arranged and recorded all the songs on this CD at Transitions Studio in Brooklyn, N.Y. For more information, call   718-852-8128

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