Author Archives: Bob Marovich

JGM Pick of the Week: May 31, 2021

“I Am With You” Tameka Ferebee Tameka Ferebee Productions (release date: February 12, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich Gospel singer-songwriter Tameka Ferebee’s “I Am With You” is a melodic evocation of the parental love that God has for each of us. The lyrics are written from God’s point of view, the ultimate parent who encourages and consoles his children, especially during the darkest times. Strings swirl dramatically around a delicate melody led by piano. Ferebee becomes more vocally confident as the song moves into the bridge, and explores her high soprano range en route to the big finish. The singer ...

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RIP B.J. Thomas, Grammy Award-Winning Christian Singer-Songwriter

By Robert M. Marovich Although he may be best known for recording chart-topping classics like “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” “Hooked on a Feeling,” and “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” singer-songwriter and country-pop artist Billy Joe “B. J.” Thomas was also a born-again Christian who sang and recorded religious songs. Thomas, who passed away May 29, 2021, at age 78, released his first of several gospel albums, Home Where I Belong (Myrrh), in 1976. Despite a Grammy nomination for “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head,” the golden phonograph statuette eluded Thomas until 1977, when ...

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“Amazing Grace” – The McCrary Sisters

“Amazing Grace” The McCrary Sisters McCrary Sisters Productions (release date: April 30, 2021) www.mccrarysisters.com By Robert M. Marovich Only the McCrary Sisters, who could sing the phone book (remember those?) into the gospel charts, could pull off “Amazing Grace” sung to the tune of “House of the Rising Sun.” Except, that is, for the Blind Boys of Alabama, who did it originally. Still, the McCrary Sisters offer an equally intriguing, and arguably more evocative, take on this mix of regret and redemption. Daughters of the late Reverend Sam McCrary of the Fairfield Four, the McCrary Sisters—Ann, Deborah, Regina, and Alfreda—share ...

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“Diamond” – Emilia Walasik

“Diamond” Emilia Walasik (release date: May 13, 2021) www.emiliawalasikmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich Christian singer-songwriter Emilia Walasik could be my sister from another mother. Like me, she was raised Catholic, is from Chicago, possibly also Polish-American, writes songs, has served as a worship leader, and is drawn to the emotionality of gospel music. But Walasik has done one better: she has converted her songs into recordings. The melodic and pop-influenced “Diamond” is one of them. Accompanied by strings and keys, Walasik works squarely within the CCM environment. At once a love song, “Diamond” also references the unconditional love that only God ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 25, 2021

“Nothin’ but the Spirit” Lisa Bellamy From the Nspyre Music Group International EP What Will it Take (release date: January 22, 2021) https://nspyremusicgroupinternational.com/ By Robert M. Marovich Lisa Bellamy’s self-penned single “Nothin’ but the Spirit” is a cross between gospel and quiet storm R&B. On this slow and thoughtful ballad, the singer-songwriter shares how the spirit of God led her to far greater heights than her own choices. The talented soprano singer’s delicate touch gives glimpses of the power behind it all. Among her accomplishments, Bellamy, a classically-trained vocalist, has done opera, was a finalist on the BET Gospel Diva ...

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RIP Madeline Thompson, Ward Singer, GMWA Honoree

By Robert M. Marovich Eric Maurice Clark shared the sad news that gospel singer Madeline Thompson has passed away. Clark had interviewed Thompson for the February 2021 issue of his Inside a Gospel Music Historian’s World magazine. From Philadelphia, Madeline sang with her sister Julia in a duo called the Thompson Sisters. They even sang with the Imperial Gospel Singers at one point. In 1960, Mother Gertrude Ward wanted the two young ladies to join the Ward Singers; the departure of several foundational members to form the Stars of Faith left a gaping hole in the national gospel group. Only ...

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Debbie Cochran – Simplify

Debbie Cochran Simplify Go Time Records (release date: April 2, 2021) www.debbiecochran.com By Robert M. Marovich Simplify is an apt title for Christian country singer Debbie Cochran’s latest offering. She delivers a breezy album of earnest originals in her no-nonsense vocal style. Consciously or not, a thematic thread runs through the album that likens spirituality and the spiritual realm to elements of an idyllic rural America. “Just Like Old Times” for example, sees death as a journey to a “heavenly reunion,” complete with relatives sitting around the dinner table reminiscing about the good old days. “Blackberry Jam” is an evocative ...

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2021 Stellar Awards Nominees Announced

(CHICAGO, IL) May 20, 2021 – Today, Central City Productions revealed the nominees in 28 categories for the 36th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Awards, which will be taped on Saturday, July 10, at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center in Nashville, TN. The Stellar Awards recognizes the year’s best performances in the genre, honors Gospel music icons, and acknowledges the accomplishments of individuals instrumental in advocating for the industry. “We’re extremely pleased and proud to present our 36th annual Stellar Awards, appropriately themed ‘Lighting the Way with Our Faith, Music and Family,’” remarked Don Jackson, Founder of the Stellar Awards and Chairman ...

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“Into This Place” – Bradie Frink & Ordinary People

“Into This Place” Bradie Frink & Ordinary People www.bfop.vision By Robert M. Marovich “Into This Place” is an antidote for the sameness of much P&W music. This lovely, liquid praise ballad, set in a minor key, benefits from a tender lead feature from Terrell Carter and sumptuous harmonies from Bradie Frink & Ordinary People, their singing anything but ordinary. The song has character, the production has crispness, and the musicians accompany the singers rather than compete with them. Originally from Washington, DC, and now living in North Carolina, Bradie Frink Jr. has served as the minister of music at numerous ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 17, 2021

“He’s Working on Me” The McDuffies feat. Bishop Darrell McFadden From the Ruffboyzmusic Group LLC album The Legacy Continues (album release date: January 15, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich The McDuffies salute the memory of their brother Ricky McDuffie with a new album and single. The single, “He’s Working on Me,” is a driving selection with hard lead singing from quartet veteran Bishop Darrell McFadden. He does Ricky proud with his raw vocals, well-timed shouts, and a gospel chuckle tossed in for good measure. Every time he feels like throwing in the towel, McFadden sings, he remembers that he’s a ...

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