Author Archives: Bob Marovich

RIP: Stan Lewis, Record Company Owner

Stanley “Stan” Lewis, owner of Jewel Records, passed away July 14, 2018, at the age of 91. In 1948, he and his wife Pauline opened Stan’s Record Shop in Shreveport, Louisiana. One of their customers was a young Elvis Presley. From there, the Lewis’s built their enterprise into a mail order company, a distributor, and founded Jewel, Paula, and Ronn labels. Their labels featured a potpourri of American roots music, including blues, R&B, country, gospel, rock, and soul. More on Lewis’s life and many contributions to the record industry can be found in the obituary here: Stan Lewis. We at JGM ...

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Phil Cook – People Are My Drug

Phil Cook People Are My Drug Psychic Hotline / Thirty Tigers (release date: June 1, 2018) www.philcookmusic.com By Bob Marovich Rootsy gospel vibes abound on Phil Cook’s second solo album, People Are My Drug. A native of from Wisconsin now living in Durham, North Carolina, Cook counts among his inspirations such classic gospel artists as the Staple Singers, the Sensational Nightingales, Margaret Allison, Shirley Caesar, and Brother Joe May. It’s evident, too, in the album’s sound, its lyrics, and even in the quartet-like vamp on two tracks (“Steampowered Blues” and “Every Mother’s Son”). “Tide of Life,” which Cook and his ensemble cover, was written by ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 16, 2018

“Holy Ghost” Frozene Lott Hayes LotHay Music (2018) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich You can be certain that a song titled “Holy Ghost” is going to be a church burner, and Frozene Hayes delivers on this promise. Supported by a chugging band and a choir of BGVs, Hayes sings about the exhilaration of salvation like a veteran church soloist. She has that deliciously raspy alto voice that can make “Happy Birthday to You” sound sanctified. She sang a live version of “Holy Ghost” at last month’s Rhythm of Gospel Awards, where it was named Traditional Song of the Year. It brought ...

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“The Pain is Going to End” – Bonita Burney Simmons

“The Pain is Going to End” Bonita Burney Simmons Bursimslow (release date: January 1, 2018) www.bonitaburneysimmons.com By Bob Marovich On her newest single, “The Pain is Going to End,” Bonita Burney Simmons reminds the listener that joy cometh in the morning, no matter how dark everything may look and feel. The song moves from general encouragement to personal testimony when she sings, “it’s just a test to what I believe – it will get better,” and later drops that new church axiom, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” The five-and-a-half minute track cries out for a radio edit to ...

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Steven Chesne – Sapient: A Cantata of Peace

Steven Chesne Sapient: A Cantata of Peace Brahmasong Records (2017) http://www.chezworks.com/sapient.html By Bob Marovich The first thing to understand about television, film, and concert music composer Steven Chesne’s Sapient: A Cantata of Peace is that it cannot be defined as gospel music, or spirituals, or hymns, or anthems, or religious symphonic music. Nevertheless, it is sacred music in the broadest sense of the term. The nineteen meditative parts of the cantata are sung in several languages, with lyrics based on prayers, chants, and writings that represent a variety of faiths and cultures. In Chesne’s musical landscape, the Kikuyu sit with ...

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Jabari Johnson: “A Raphael Saddiq Who Sings Gospel”

By Bob Marovich It’s not unusual to hear how a gospel song touched someone’s life. Every now and then, you even hear about how a gospel song saved someone’s life. But what about when a song saves the life of its own creator? That is the story behind “Have Your Way,” the new single from singer, songwriter, and musician Jabari Johnson. “Two years ago, I was getting ready to commit suicide,” Jabari said. “But God gave me the lyrics [to ‘Have Your Way’]. I sang the song at an event in Houston that night, and my breakthrough happened. Ever since ...

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Koryn Hawthorne – Unstoppable

Koryn Hawthorne Unstoppable RCA Inspiration (release date: July 13, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Hearing just the first few bluesy bars of the Jimi Hendrix-like fuzz guitar that open Koryn Hawthorne’s “Warriors,” the opening track on her full-length solo album, Unstoppable, you know you are in for a sonic adventure. Hawthorne combines the relentless vocal energy of Lady Gaga and the power praise of Cheryl Fortune with the out-of-the-box innovation of Royce Lovett. Producer Warryn Campbell, no stranger to pop-infused gospel, helps facilitate this mélange of sound, while the lyrics remain grounded in praise, worship, and inspiration. Those who watched Hawthorne rise ...

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The Sons of the Soul Revivers: Live! Rancho Nicasio

The Sons of the Soul Revivers Live! Rancho Nicasio Little Village Foundation www.littlevillagefoundation.org By Bob Marovich The Sons of the Soul Revivers are on a quest to achieve the kind of widespread visibility that the Blind Boys of Alabama and the Fairfield Four have enjoyed for the past three decades. Based on the sound of their new album, Live! Rancho Nicasio, the guys are definitely on the right track. Recorded during two sold out shows at the Rancho Nicasio, a roadhouse in Marin County, California, that specializes in presenting roots music, the album was produced by the Little Village Foundation, a ...

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Conversations with the Gospel Legends: Leanne Faine

Ms. Leanne Faine, Thompson Community Singers lead vocalist and a solo gospel artist in her own right joins Bob Marovich on “Conversations with the Gospel Legends.” It’s part of our continuing focus on the history of Chicago’s Thompson Community Singers. Conversations with the Gospel Legends. Host: Bob Marovich. Guest: Leanne Faine from PCC Studio on Vimeo.

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For Patrick Lundy, It’s About the “Whole Gamut of Sacred Music”

By Bob Marovich Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music mix traditional and classically-infused contemporary gospel into their repertory. While their current single, the unapologetically traditional “Enter His Gates,” continues to impact radio, the group has also recorded an entire album of spirituals and hymns.  This reflects Patrick Lundy’s admiration for, and experience with, the full palette of sacred music. Lundy visited with the Journal of Gospel Music while in Chicago for the annual Chorus America conference. It was almost a foregone conclusion that Patrick Lundy would go into music as a profession. First Missionary Baptist, the church he attended as a child, was blessed with ...

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