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Zacardi Cortez: Headed to Top 'One More Time'

4/24/2012, 1:11 p.m.

A year after hitting No. 1 on Billboard's Hot Gospel Songs chart with "I Believe," a collaboration with James Fortune & FIYA and Shawn McLemore, Zacardi Cortez is bracing himself for another number one with the song, "One More Time." The down home plea for God's salvation features Cortez' musical godfather, John P. Kee, and has just risen to the Top 5 on the Nielsen BDS gospel chart this week. "We are pulling out all the stops," says Blacksmoke music CEO, Kerry Douglas, who discovered Cortez years ago and brought him into the Blacksmoke family of artists.

"We are partnering with radio stations and bloggers to help get this inspirational message out to people that no matter what they are going through, God can help them through it just one more time."

With the explosion of praise and worship music that is often sung as a vocal ensemble as opposed to as a soloist, gospel music has drifted away from real singers but Cortez is bringing the art of technique back with his raw vocal skills. Nowhere is this better exemplified than on "One More Time," a rousing ballad written by James Fortune and Terence Vaughn, who wrote Fortune's Top 10 hits "Encore," "I Wouldn't Know You," and the smash, "I Trust You," which spent 29 weeks at No. 1 on Billboard's Gospel chart. In the simple song, Cortez' second verse reads as a confession to God: "There's one thing that I know is true, When everything else fails I can count on you. With tears in my eyes, down on my knees. Can you do what you did before, Lord? I'm asking you please."

The legendary John P Kee, who Cortez has been singing with Kee since the age of 10, adds another level of passion and authenticity to this inspiring church melody. They play off of each other, finishing each other's vocal lines. "Oh Lord, I need you to heal my sister", Kee sings before Cortez jumps in to proclaim, "I'm depending on you to repair my broken heart too."

During the vamp, Cortez and Kee go head to head, testifying back and forth of the many times God has pulled them through the storms of life. It's the type of solid gospel song that artists don't record anymore, a pure church melody that blends the best of the past with the best of the future to create a classic that appeals to young and old alike.

"That's the message I'm getting out there," says Douglas. "Zacardi appeals to people across the board and I'm open to all ideas on how to make take Zacardi to the top and make him America's favorite gospel artist because he can do it alls. He's got the swag to hang with your R. Kellys, he's got the Sunday morning church style to hold his own with the Marvin Sapps and at the same time, he can be as smooth as Luther Vandross."

He displays all of these sides to his extraordinary talent on his forthcoming debut solo CD, "Zacardi Cortez: The Introduction"(Blacksmoke Media) that hits online and retail stores everywhere on May 22 with cameos by Lalah Hathaway, Kierra Sheard, Fred Hammond, John P. Kee, The Williams Singers, James Fortune and Isaac Carree.