Actors dabbling in music is nothing new and goes together like movies and popcorn. Back in 2008, when Academy Award-nominated actor Terrence Howard announced his debut album with Columbia Records, I was a bit skeptical. While Howard displayed some lyrical ability as a rapper in Hustle & Flow three years prior, I had no idea what to expect from his album. When Howard released his debut single in summer 2008, Lil Wayne was dominating the charts with The Carter III. Usher had just released Here I Stand and Keyisha Cole was coming into her own with the hit single “Heaven Sent.” Howard was going to have his work cut out for him to find a place in music.
Howard kicked off the promotion campaign for Shine Through It with the lead single Sanctuary co-written by Ilsey Juber, Sanctuary isn’t a bad song. The wise move from a promotional standpoint would’ve been to cross-promote to country and gospel, given the production of the song. After hearing the lead single, I was willing to give Howard a chance, sadly not only is Shine Through It one of the worst albums I’ve ever heard. Released by Columbia Records on September 2, 2008, Shine Through It is rarely mentioned by Howard or anyone else.
Outside of four tracks, which were co-written by Miles Mosley, Howard wrote and produced the album primarily himself. While I applaud Howard’s ambition, the actor’s singing voice comes off as a lousy karaoke impression of singer Seal. A skilled guitar player in his own right, perhaps the better angle for Howard to go was the compilation route. Going that route would’ve showcased his instrumentation and producing skills while highlighting more established singers.
Take the opening song “Love Makes You Beautiful,” a romantic song tailor-made for a voice like Anthony Hamilton. While the bluesy “Shine Through It” and “She Was Mine” could’ve both been sung by Darrius Rucker. Howard’s limited singing voice ends up hurting what otherwise would’ve come off as a decent Urban Ac album. Howard does excel on the vocal-free numbers “Spanish Love Affair” and “It’s All Game.” Both songs of which are elegantly produced; however, neither song is durable enough to recommend the album.
While Terrence Howard did find a bit of musical success as Luscious Lyon on Fox’s Empire with its accompanying soundtracks, his debut album was a huge misstep. Empire allowed Howard to work with established vocal coaches and producers, so the actor’s musical talent was adequately showcased. However, Shine Through It is a bit too overly ambitious
Final Re-Listen Grade: D+
Best Songs: “Sanctuary,” “Spanish Love Affair” and “It’s All Game”