Recorded Her First Album
On the heels of her exciting win, Griffin entered the studio to put together her first album, Free, which was released on May 25, 2004. She had exactly nine days to cut the ten songs. "The songs that were chosen were so close to my heart," she told Christianity Today. "I fought hard to get those particular songs on the album because one thing I've always wanted to do was to bridge the gaps. There's such segregation between Christian music and gospel music and inspirational music and pop music. I've always wanted to bring that all together."
Free, which debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard Top Gospel Albums charts and earned positive reviews, blends contemporary R&B, pop, and gospel in its offerings. The first cut, "You Are Mine," a soulful R&B mix in the tradition of Patti LaBelle, is followed by the title track, "Free." The Soultracks Web site reviewer noted, "Griffin is at her finest...on the album's title cut, a fairly ordinary ballad that is absolutely lifted up by her explosive performance." She also received praise for her rendition of MercyMe's "I Can Only Imagine" as well as for "Faith," a gospel-styled duet with her husband. The album also included "Learn to Breathe," co-written by Griffin, "This Is Who I Am," "Better Days," "Get Away," "Rise," and "He's Coming Again." Griffin promoted Free in a nine-city tour, "Touch a Dream." Some critics, including All Music Guide's Heather Phares, felt the album suffered somewhat from overproduction and weak songwriting that did not allow Griffin the freedom to let her dynamic voice to deliver at its full potential. Despite her reservations, Phares noted in her review, "Griffin clearly has the voice and the 'faith' to make a show-stopping gospel album."
In many ways life has changed significantly for Griffin, who was treated as a celebrity on her return to Detroit after winning the contest. Yet, she continues to focus on her role as a wife and mother and has even maintained her place on the cleaning committee at her church. She told the Music Remedy Web site that, "I always wanted my mission in life to be to spread the messages that are important to me. I knew that I was a good wife and a good mother. But I also knew there would be much more in store for me. I was right. And I hope my music will inspire others to look deeply into their hearts and soul and find out what they are meant to do. Because everyone has their season. And this is mine." Griffin continues to perform in a variety of events and venues as well as remaining active in her church and with her family.
Brief BiographiesBiographies: Bob Graham (1942-) Biography - Awards to Francis Hendy Biography - Born to SewLaShell Griffin Biography - From Housewife To Celebrity, The Pop Star Challenge, Recorded Her First Album - Selected discography