Author Archives: Bob Marovich

RIP, Ronald Greer; Wrote Book on Roberta Martin Singers

By Bob Marovich JGM is saddened to report the passing of Mr. Ronald Greer of Bay City, Texas. He passed away in his sleep sometime last night or early this morning. Ron was the number one fan of the Roberta Martin Singers. Over the years, he kept in touch with the Martin Singers’ manager, Eugene Smith. Before Eugene passed, he shared with Ron many stories about the Roberta Martin Singers. Many went into Ron’s book, Only a Look, a history and appreciation of the pioneering gospel group. Subsequent to the publication of Only a Look, Ron helped secure a place for the Roberta ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 30, 2018

“He Saved Me” YaLonda Lolar-Johnson Thysongbird Music Group (release date: July 2017) www.thysongbird.com By Bob Marovich YaLonda Lolar-Johnson is distinctive in gospel music for hailing from two environments not particularly well known for producing many gospel artists: St. Paul, Minnesota; and the Seventh Day Adventist Church. Nevertheless, gospel is her favorite genre and on “He Saved Me,” a song written by vocal instructor Dileesa Archer, Lolar-Johnson admits she was to blame for some of the problems in her life. She also had too much pride to ask for help, so she threw herself a pity party. But out of her emotional darkness, ...

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CeCe Winans Wins Big at Grammy Awards

Congratulations to the winners in the 60th Grammy Awards Gospel and Christian categories: Best Gospel Performance/Song: “Never Have to Be Alone” — CeCe Winans; Dwan Hill & Alvin Love III, songwriters Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song: “What a Beautiful Name” — Hillsong Worship; Ben Fielding & Brooke Ligertwood, songwriters Best Gospel Album: Let Them Fall in Love — CeCe Winans Best Contemporary Christian Music Album: Chain Breaker — Zach Williams Best Roots Gospel Album: Sing It Now: Songs of Faith & Hope — Reba McEntire

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Damon Williams: “If the Chart Could Become a CD, It Would Be WOW Gospel.”

By Bob Marovich In 1998, Damon Williams eagerly purchased a copy of the first-ever WOW Gospel two-CD compilation. “It was a big moment in gospel music,” Williams, who was recently named Vice President of Marketing for RCA Inspiration, shared with the Journal of Gospel Music. “To find something that had the year’s best gospel songs all in one place, by the top artists, was extremely appealing to me as a consumer and a burgeoning industry executive.” On the 20th anniversary of the best-selling franchise, the 2-CD WOW Gospel 2018 hits stores today. While it will be Williams’ first time working ...

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Edwin Hawkins’ “Oh Happy Day” Back on Billboard Charts, Hits #1

From a press release: A week after the death of four-time Grammy® Award-winning recording artist, Edwin Hawkins, The Edwin Hawkins Singers’ 1969 million-seller, “Oh Happy Day,” has charted at #1 on Billboard Magazine’s Gospel Digital Song Sales chart for the issue week ending January 27, 2018. The classic song had a 999% sales increase following worldwide news coverage of the celebrated artist’s passing from cancer last week and it also amassed over 173,000 streams during the same period. In recent months, Hawkins and his management team had begun to plan activities surrounding the 50th anniversary of “Oh Happy Day” which was ...

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The Golden Bells – Thank You

The Golden Bells Thank You www.TheGoldenBells.com By Bob Marovich Much of Thank You, the latest full-length CD release by the Golden Bells of Lexington, Mississippi, is a refashioning of traditional gospel staples into the modern quartet style. Even when the songs are newly-composed and the music meets today’s gospel quartet standards, they retain the old church character in their lyric content. For example, on “Say Something Good,” the Golden Bells prefer to turn the other cheek to their haters, but by reviving some of grandma’s well-worn words of wisdom (“What goes around comes back again”), the group confirms the wisdom ...

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“Hallelujah” – Ben Harrell feat. Alisha Bender

“Hallelujah” Ben Harrell feat. Alisha Bender (release date: December 10, 2017) http://www.writersfoundationllc.org/ By Bob Marovich “Hallelujah” is part confessional, part praise song, part CCM, and part gospel. In her lovely soprano, Alicia Bender, a classically-trained singer and former member of the Howard Gospel Choir, sings Ben Harrell’s hymn about the reciprocal love between God and His people. The chorus, of which the first four notes evoke Leonard Cohen’s song by the same title, is ideal for a worship team singalong. Tunesmith Harrell has also written songs demonstrated by Summer Pearson and Paul Thompson. A number of songwriters, in fact, have ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 22, 2018

“Church Medley II” Syreeta Thompson Trumpetlady From the CD Evolution of a Winner (release date: September 15, 2017) www.trumpetlady.com By Bob Marovich At one time, brass instruments in the service of God were found only in Pentecostal and Spiritual churches and, of course, in the famed shout bands of the United House of Prayer for All People. But times have changed and trumpets, saxophones, and all sorts of instruments are welcome at nearly every type of church. Still, there are few female brass players in gospel music. Syreeta Thompson is one. The Grammy Award-winning, Billboard-charting and Stellar Award-nominated Thompson pays homage to ...

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Imari Tones – Jesus Wind

Imari Tones Jesus Wind (release date: November 7, 2017) https://imaritones.bandcamp.com/album/jesus-wind By Bob Marovich If you are not familiar with the Imari Tones, they are a Christian heavy metal band from Japan. Their latest release, Jesus Wind, is a concept album about the development of Christianity in Japan, a largely Buddhist nation. Although I listened to heavy metal in my youth, I never paid much attention to the lyrics, so it took some acclimation for me to get to the kernel of the message on Jesus Wind (the lyrics are, with rare exception, in English). What I distill from Jesus Wind is this: the group weaves ...

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