Author Archives: Bob Marovich

Another Soldier Gone – Sister Rosetta Davis (Charles Fold Singers)

By Robert M. Marovich JGM learned that Sister Rosetta Davis, a longtime member and beloved soloist of the Charles Fold Singers of Cincinnati, Ohio, passed away during the 2020 Christmas holiday. A firebrand of a singer, Davis started her singing career at a young age. In the 1950s, she was billed as the Little Blind Girl on what may have been her first single, “There is a Fountain” / “I Know My Robe is Going to Fit Me Well,” on Hilltop Records. Davis’s work with the Charles Fold Singers was robust, including solo turns on the choir’s recordings and especially ...

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RIP: Pastor Steve Hawkins

By Robert M. Marovich A. Jeffrey LaValley informed JGM of the passing of his friend, gospel singer and pastor Steve Hawkins. Born in Waco, Texas, on Valentine’s Day, 1953 (“That’s why I’m such a sweetheart!” he chuckled during our 2014 interview), Hawkins was raised in Cleveland, Ohio, where his father was pastor of the Jerusalem Church of God in Christ. As a youngster, Hawkins learned the finer points of singing from his mother. His uncle and aunt, Dorothy and Lawrence Abrams, took him on the road to open for the Original Five Blind Boys, in which Lawrence was a member ...

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How Gospel Music Influenced Mainstream Hits

By Cecille Richman, Guest Contributor While many might say that gospel music is incredibly niche, the opposite is actually true. Formed out of a mixture of African American folk music and religious hymns, it’s a soulful genre that has inspired countless others. Genres now considered foundational to American popular music, including soul, blues, and R&B, can all trace their history back to gospel. The recent launch of Legacy Music Group is proof of gospel music’s incredible influence and popularity. Hundreds of popular artists have made use of gospel music or gospel musical influences in their discographies. In a ZenBusiness guide ...

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Avis Marie Bickham – I Am Sure

Avis Marie Bickham I Am Sure Independent (release date: July 5, 2019) https://avismariebickhamministries.com/ By Robert M. Marovich The title track of Louisiana indie gospel artist Avis Marie Bickham’s latest recorded effort was named CCM Christian Song of the Year at this year’s Rhythm of Gospel Awards. It reinforces the notion that the expansive-voiced Bickham is at her best with more measured, melodic songs. The up-tempo songs on I Am Sure are conventional. “Where They At” rolls along to a techno hip hop foundation, and “Release the Sound” is a thunderous R&P that pushes Bickham to the upper reaches of her ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 21, 2020

“Silent Night”HamiltonesFrom the Young Vintage CDA Hamiltone Christmas (release date: November 30, 2017)www.watchtheton3s.com By Robert M. Marovich Although labeled a soul and R&B group, the Hamiltones of North Carolina sound for all the world like a gospel quartet on “Silent Night.” From converting the song’s 6/8 time signature to 12/8 to the shouting vocals, gritty guitar work, adlibbing, and crackling vinyl intro, this is old school quartet, I don’t care what anybody says. Then again, the Grammy-nominated trio has been featured on albums by Anthony Hamilton, PJ Morton, Jonathan McReynolds, and Tori Kelly, so there’s that. Released in 2017, the ...

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JGM Music Hour – Christmas 2020 Mixtape

Christmas 2020 Playlist Do you believe – PJ Morton feat. Yolanda Adams What Christmas means to me – Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions Joy to the world – Robert E. Person Jesus what a wonderful child – Rhyme & Reason feat. April Hall Oh come all ye faithful – Parkes Stewart Born to die – Angela Moss Poole Holiday love – Erica Mason, Emcee N.I.C.E. & Spechouse He’s not a baby anymore – Angelo & Veronica Have yourself a merry little Christmas – Titus Showers My favorite things – Glodean and Linda Messiah (Christ was born) – Joseph Robinson ...

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San Franklin – The Free Project (Deluxe Version)

San Franklin The Free Project (Deluxe Version) Enon Music Group (release date: September 25, 2020) www.enonmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich From the spoken introduction, gospel singer San Franklin makes it clear that her debut solo CD, The Free Project, is about breaking free from self-bondage, from the chains of doubt, fear, and analysis paralysis we wrap around ourselves. After years of standing “twenty feet from stardom,” Franklin enters the spotlight for the entire program, demonstrating the vocal versatility that has made her a favorite featured vocalist. Even her act of stepping forward to occupy center stage fits with the CD’s ...

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RIP: Val Alexander (Gospel Keynotes)

By Robert M. Marovich Debra Robinson informed JGM yesterday that Val Alexander, longtime singer and guitarist for the Gospel Keynotes, passed away on Wednesday, December 16, 2020. Alexander can be heard on Gospel Keynotes recordings as early as 1970. Here is a brief bio on the Gospel Keynotes: From Tyler, Texas, Willie Neal Johnson – affectionately known as “Country Boy” – began his professional singing career when Rev. C. W. Jackson invited him to join a local group, the Five Ways of Joy Gospel Singers, while he was still a teenager. The Five Ways of Joy instilled in Johnson a ...

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RIP: Ora Watkins-Jones (Southwest Michigan State Choir of COGIC)

By Robert M. Marovich Marcel West of Detroit informed JGM of the passing of Mother Ora Watkins-Jones, stalwart lead vocalist for the Southwest Michigan State Choir of the Church of God in Christ, under the direction of Dr. Mattie Moss Clark. Of a choir with more than 100 members, a few names stood out from the pack. Rose Marie Rimson-Brown. LaBarbara Whitehead. Vanessa Bell Armstrong. The Clark Sisters. Donald Vails. And Ora Watkins-Jones. Mother Watkins-Jones is perhaps best known for her vocal contribution, with Rimson-Brown (who passed away earlier this year), on the Southwest Michigan State Choir’s first radio hit, ...

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Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions: It’s a Soulful Christmas

Michelle David & the Gospel SessionsIt’s a Soulful Christmas(release date: November 27, 2020)http://michelledavidandthegospelsessions.com By Robert M. Marovich Holland’s Michelle David & the Gospel Sessions lend their stripped-down small-combo Sixties soul stylings to new and classic Christmas songs on It’s a Soulful Christmas. Looking a little like a Columbia Records release from the Sixties, the album art telegraphs the retro sounds within. David channels the coquettish soprano of Diana Ross throughout the project, most especially on the nearly note-for-note cover of Stevie Wonder’s quintessentially Motown “What Christmas Means to Me.” While the perky single “This Christmas (I’ll Be By Your Side)” ...

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