“Say Yes!” and celebrate the one year anniversary of Michelle Williams’ unexpected gospel rebirth

Vincent Anthony
5 Min Read

May 21, 2014

One year ago today, a gospel game changer was unexpectedly dropped on the world: “Say Yes!” The Michelle Williams-lead collaboration, featuring fellow Destiny’s Child cohorts Kelly Rowland and Beyoncé, was a much welcomed explosion for Michelle Williams’ career, and for the gospel music scene.

On this day last year, even Michelle herself wasn’t expecting what occurred: her most successful single to date, “Say Yes,” was – unbeknownst to Michelle – leaked online. Appropriately, it nearly, ehem, “broke the internet” and was everywhere in a matter of minutes. Of course, people loved the fact that it was a Destiny’s Child reunion of sorts, but it was more than that. “Say Yes” is indeed a fantastic, uplifting song – impeccably produced and expertly sung.

“Say Yes” was not only a rebirth for Michelle’s career – it was the third attempt at a lead single from her Journey to Freedom album – but it was also, in a way, a new beginning for the entire genre. While, as usual, certain uptight gospel music fans criticized the song for its sound – most overwhelmingly embraced the track and it opened the doors for other gospel artists to follow who released crossover worthy gospel tracks, praising God – of course – but also not afraid to inspire a little turn up!

The energizing uptempo is inspired by a Nigerian gospel hymn and set over a calypso-esque dance club beat. It’s near impossible not to dance when this song comes on. Even if you aren’t Christian, you’ll be turnt up, dancing wildly and praising Jesus’ name by the second chorus (if not sooner). Even if you aren’t religious, the song is still impactful because of the inspirational, motivating message: “when Jesus say yes, nobody can say no!” So what if you don’t follow Jesus? Take it for what it truly means: you are unstoppable! Essentially, “Say Yes” is like an update of Destiny’s Child’s iconic 2001 smash, “Survivor” (side note: ladies, a medley of the two would be CUTE).

While the ladies of Destiny’s Child are of course known for their empowering uptempos, they are best known for their incredible voices. There are few girl groups that are as successful as the trio – and there are even less who can sing anywhere near as good as these three. Naturally, since it’s Michelle’s song she shows off her passionate, soulful, Church-and-Broadway-trained powerhouse pipes by opening the track, and then slaying the adlibs, with her trademark electrifyingly liberated vocals.

Then, Beyoncé and Kelly each take their turn at the track. Beyoncé brings a fiercely versatile, and similarly powerful, vocal performance to the track in a style that is unmistakably Queen B’s and still a perfect compliment to Michelle’s. Kelly, meanwhile, ethers the bridge with one of her best vocals to date, layered to perfection with background vocals in a way that is characteristically Kelly. Fans, and Michelle herself, have endlessly praised Kelly’s vocal on the track, and there is no questioning the validity of its acclaim.

Vocally, musically, and lyrically – “Say Yes” is an amalgamation of everything that makes for not only good gospel music but simply great music. Period. The song’s key elements are a combination of voices, music, and themes that span and break genre-barriers. The song is indeed genre-less; and its impact? Undeniable.

The song’s video has garnered nearly 17 million views on VEVO in the 11 months since its release. Of course, it has topped the Billboard Gospel charts on multiple occasions and came in seventh among Billboard’s Top Gospel Songs of 2014. Upon its release, the song was lauded by critics and received rave reviews from nearly every major entertainment publication. Michelle was also invited to the White House by First Lady to perform the track for a celebration of Gospel music earlier this year. However, perhaps the most notable and exciting performance of the song yet was at the 2015 Stellar Awards, which found Destiny’s Child reunited once more to perform the track, breathing life into it once more.

The success of the song has definitely proved one thing: that “nobody can say no” to it! How could you? The celebratory lyrics, the emancipating vocals and the irresistible rhythm are undeniable. Michelle, we wholeheartedly “Say Yes” to its success, and cannot wait to see what’s next.

In the meantime, check out Michelle’s latest, beautifully inspirational new single, “Believe In Me.”

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Vincent is the founder of the magazine and has had a strong passion for popular music since, well, 1997! If it's not obvious, his favorite artists include Destiny's Child, Mariah Carey, Janet Jackson, Michael Jackson, P!nk, and many more. Vincent lives in New York, where he is a high school English teacher, and currently he is pursuing a Master's in Journalism at the Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism at CUNY.