Author Archives: Bob Marovich

JGM Pick of the Week: August 31, 2020

“Happy in Jesus” Exciting Holy Sons From the album Finally Live in Chicago Independent (release date: August 7, 2020) By Bob Marovich If you are a fan of Chicago’s Victory Travelers, you’ll enjoy Chicago’s Exciting Holy Sons. Both groups offer up meaty traditional gospel quartet fare, complete with pulpit-honed messages, squalling lead singers, and the kind of music that lifts congregants to their feet. Even their name hearkens back to when quartets prefaced their names with superlatives, the verbal equivalent of bubble lights on a Wurlitzer jukebox. Sounding very much like the Exciting Holy Sons’ exit song at a gospel ...

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RIP: Verline Rogers (Meditation Singers)

By Bob Marovich JGM was saddened to learn from Laura Lee and Marcel West that soprano Verline Rogers of the Meditation Singers passed from labor to reward on August 27, 2020, after an extended illness. She was living in Las Vegas at the time of her passing. Rogers was a member of the Meditation Singers of Detroit, a female group headed by Ernestine Rundless. She appears to have joined the group sometime in the early 1960s and recorded with them throughout the decade. In addition to Rogers, other members of the group over the years included R&B stars Della Reese ...

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“Joy” – Philip Mercer

“Joy” Philip Mercer Independent (release date: 2020) By Bob Marovich To a bubbly R&B vibe straight out of the 1980s, Philip Mercer’s “Joy” expresses gratitude to the Most High for His salvation and for subsequent blessings with the familiar refrain, “this joy, the world didn’t give it to me.” To hammer home the point, Mercer offers the comforting declaration of Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Exuding the emotion that serves as the song’s title, Mercer’s meaty and malleable tenor voice is what sells the song. Singer-songwriter Philip Mercer is on the ...

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Millennial Gives Historic African-American Radio Station a New Heartbeat

From a press release: With the explosive growth of digital streaming, the rise of social media and other online distractions, many have pronounced terrestrial radio dead. However, KOKA – The Heart of Gospel – Shreveport, Louisiana’s first African American radio station, with a history dating back to the 1950s – is very much alive. The station – which had been in decline for some years – has been robustly resuscitated by its proactive 31-year-old program director, Charles “Pastor CeJay” Johnson. In the midst of a national pandemic and civil rights unrest, Johnson has taken stands and made decisions that have ...

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David Billingsley – House of David, Volume 1

David Billingsley House of David – Volume 1 Intersound (release date: July 31, 2020) www.billingsleymusic.com By Bob Marovich Only two months after his album debut, Hymns from Grandma’s Living Room, jazz pianist David Billingsley has released his sophomore project, House of David, the first volume of self-penned instrumental jazz compositions. A Racine, Wisconsin, native now living in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Billingsley is founder and executive director of the Billingsley School of Music and Arts, an academy that offers K-12 students access to arts education. The selections on House of David – Volume 1 are contemplative and thoughtful, designed to conjure the ...

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35th Annual Stellar Gospel Music Award Winners

(CHICAGO, IL) August 23, 2020 – Not even a global pandemic could diminish the powerful spirit of praise, worship and celebration during the historic virtual broadcast of the Stellar Gospel Music Awards Sunday night on BET and BET Her. Led by hosts Kirk Franklin, Jonathan McReynolds, and Koryn Hawthorne, the 35th Anniversary Stellar Gospel Music Awards awarded trophies in 28 categories for the year’s best performances in the genre — including six statues presented to the night’s big winner, host and Gospel icon Kirk Franklin. Here is the complete list of 35th Stellar Award Winners. Congratulations to all the winners ...

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35TH ANNIVERSARY STELLAR AWARDS VIRTUAL SPECIAL PREMIERING ON BET & BET HER THIS SUNDAY, AUGUST 23 AT 6 PM ET

RENOWNED ANNUAL SALUTE TO GOSPEL MUSIC CELEBRATES 35TH ANNIVERSARY MILESTONE BY HONORING FIRST RESPONDERS AND THE LATE CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS VIRTUAL PRODUCTION ENCORES AT 9PM ET AND AIRS IN SYNDICATION NATIONWIDE AUGUST 29 – SEPTEMBER 27 (CHICAGO, IL) August 21, 2020 – This Sunday, music fans, Gospel enthusiasts and anyone looking for a little inspiration can tune into the highly-anticipated 35th Anniversary Stellar Gospel Music Awards premiering on BET and BET Her as a two-hour virtual special on Sunday, August 23 at 6 p.m. ET/5C (with an encore at 9 p.m. ET). The award show will also run in national ...

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RIP: Bernard Pinder (Newberry Singers, Utterbach Ensemble)

Willy Leiser and Linwood Heath informed JGM that Bernard Pinder has passed away. Here is a brief bio, courtesy of andre-café.com: Bernard Pinder is an anointed gospel singer whose gift has allowed him to travel extensively across the country as well as overseas. Bernard has sung before some of the most influential people in the world today, yet is as excited about singing at the smallest storefront church, as he is to sing before great men. It is a blessing to hear Bernard sing and he is an undisputed favorite in the Delaware Valley. His life is devoted to the worship ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 17, 2020

“Never Leave You Alone” Supreme Angels (release date: 2020) By Bob Marovich The latest iteration of the Supreme Angels continues the quartet’s music ministry into its eighth decade. Its new single, “Never Leave You Alone,” features the Angels’ characteristic hard gospel lead singing, a message of hope and encouragement, and that devastating “rocking chair” rhythm. Written by Jontee Ruffin, “Never Leave You Alone” is produced by Johnny Ruffin Jr. Originally known as the Paramounts, the Supreme Angels was organized in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. In 1958, the quartet became a national recording artist when it signed with Nashboro Records. Until 2007, when ...

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Fisk Jubilee Singers – Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album)

Fisk Jubilee Singers Celebrating Fisk! (The 150th Anniversary Album) Curb (release date: August 10, 2020) www.fiskjubileesingers.org By Bob Marovich On the eve of the sesquicentennial of its founding, the Fisk Jubilee Singers have released an album more musically and culturally diverse than any of its other recordings, going back more than a century. Founded in 1871 to raise funds for a young and financially-struggling Fisk University, the Fisk Jubilee Singers toured the U.S. and Europe, ultimately raising the needed funds but also triggering a jubilee-singing phenomenon emulated by other HBCUs as well as by commercial troupes. Jubilee singers also gave ...

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