I discovered the work of Vince Ebo on Charlie Peacock’s West Coast Diaries Vol 2. The three cassette set had two alternative pop albums and one acoustic. The acoustic trio cassette (and later CD) featured Charlie Peacock performing the main vocals, but getting tremendous support from a singer I had not previously heard (uh, that would Ebo) and backup from Jimmy Abegg.
Vince had an amazing voice. It felt pure, powerful…passionate and strong. Vince was also one of the nicest people I’ve ever met from the Christian music industry. There are plenty of nice and decent people I have met from the industry over the years, but Vince always stood out. I got to spend a lot of time one weekend meeting he and the rest of the crew working with Peacock at that time. And he just had a powerful, friendly demeanor. A sense of Joy that made one feel warm inside. He had a CD coming out, and I got an advanced copy that he signed for me.
The music was drastically different from his work with Peacock. And I supposed the smooth R&B was a bit jarring for me. I confess the radio friendly Pop R&B of the 90’s is not something I lean towards. If I want “sexy smooth soul”, well I can listen to folks like Marvin Gaye and Teddy Pendergrass…you know?
But I still thing it’s a pretty solid disc. Ebo’s heart shone through his voice. Right from the start, it was clear he was trying to express something to the listener with the upbeat Forgiven. It was a call to people for repentance. Admittedly, it is a rosy picture painted of faith, once you know your forgiven by the end of the song, all will be better.
Love is the Better Way, Love and Real Love are calls to the listener to see a new way to live, one bathed in love and faith in God. Again, the lyrics tend to be overly simplistic, and moralizing. This is something that extends through most of the album. Just as some secular artists paint excessively casual sexual activity as problem free, the lyrics on Vince Ebo’s debut reflect a young faith, with little reflection on the tougher times of faith. The lyrics rarely step beyond a simple approach to faith… the exceptions are These Are the Questions and Long Time Comin’ both written with the help of Charlie Peacock. Both have a more refined lyrical sense. Long Time Comin’ is also got a real nice groove.
Also, Make It Work is a funky ride that I really, really enjoy. The other thing that hurt the CD is, well, it feels to slick… to over produced. That the album can overcome these is a testament to the talent of Ebo. It hinted at greater things to come.
But that was not meant to be. The sales for the album was pretty dismal. It was hard to believe that voice wasn’t enough to get the album to sell. Warner Alliance didn’t seem to give it all that strong of a push either. Sadly, Vince was quite despondent about this. I suspect there were other things he was struggling with, that were making hope seem elusive. I know not what those might be, and would not dare to speculate. In the end, he took his own life. It’s heartbreaking when people reach that point that death seems the better route. I am saddened we didn’t get to see Vince spread his wings. I am heart broken that his friends and family had to see him violently ripped from their present, leaving him to only live on in the memories of their hearts.
You are still missed Vince.