Author Archives: Bob Marovich

“Right Now’s the Right Time for Jesus” – Steven Cermele

“Right Now’s the Right Time for Jesus” Steven Cermele From the SLC Records album HealThy Heart Available from Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Culled from his HealThy Heart album, Steve Cermele’s single, “Right Now’s the Right Time for Jesus,” is a southern gospel track that, as I mentioned in my album review, “is ideal for congregational singing and, of all the songs on the album, wins Most Likely to Be Placed in a Hymnbook.” The hymn confirms the veteran singer and musician’s decision a decade ago to focus on Christian music. He should write more songs in this vein.  I could hear them ...

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All Above North – How Great It Is To Be Broken

All Above North How Great It Is To Be Broken Northwest Records (2017) www.allabovenorth.com By Bob Marovich If Joy Division had made a Christian album, it might sound like How Great It Is To Be Broken. All Above North’s latest album is equal parts retro ‘80s and current-day EDM. Prayerful conversations with God—some cheerful, some expressing anxiety—receive ample helpings of electric confetti, at times bright and cheerful and at other times intense and dramatic. And thank God, the synth sounds like a synth and not like an artificial brass section or violins. From Sydney, Australia, the Christian indie rock band All Above ...

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Prof. Harold Boggs (and Lula Reed): Lord Give Me Strength

Prof. Harold Boggs (and Lula Reed) Lord Give Me Strength: Early Recordings 1952-1964 Gospel Friend Records (release date: September 21, 2018) www.gospelfriend.com By Bob Marovich Perhaps one reason Professor Harold Boggs is not as well remembered, or as appreciated, as his golden era contemporaries is his penchant for copying their sound. Seemingly bereft of a distinctive style of his own, Boggs, a blind singer, emulated the prevailing sound of gospel music. In other words, listening to Boggs on Per Notini’s superb compilation of the blind singer’s initial recordings is a gospel music history lesson in audio. You hear the influence of the expansive-voiced ...

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Jamie Lee Rake Reviews Milwaukee Quartet Program

Originally written for publication in online contemporary Christian and gospel music magazine The Phantom Tollbooth (http://www.tollbooth.org/) Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s Lisa Knowles & The Brown Singers The Golden Bells The Christland Singers The Fabulous Luckett Brothers Tiffany Terry P. Wilson & Pure Worship Abundant Faith Church of Integrity, Milwaukee, WI 15 September 2018 An argument could be made that Lee Williams shouldn’t have been on the platform. Lord knows, the lanky elder statesman of traditional male quartet soul gospel, with his distinguished salt-and-pepper hair, once a paragon of nigh stoic cool with an authoritative baritone that could sound like ...

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Shunice Hill-Sullivan – He Won’t Leave Me Alone (EP)

Shunice Hill-Sullivan He Won’t Leave Me Alone (EP) Independent (release date: September 1, 2015) www.ShuniceHillSullivan.com By Bob Marovich On her EP He Won’t Leave Me Alone, Christian singer Shunice Hill-Sullivan eschews gospel music histrionics for understated lyrics and arrangements. A gentle electric piano guides a small quiet storm combo through the four-cut project, which features prayer closet conversations with God. For example, on “Breakthrough,” Shunice speaks to God from a place of unspecific personal trials. She seeks forgiveness and a return to discipleship, knowing that a breakthrough is possible only after she is back in God’s good graces. “Draw Me ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 18, 2018

“Unto the Lamb” Kim Stratton Kingdom Records (release date: May 15, 2018) By Bob Marovich On “Unto the Lamb,” Chicago-based gospel songstress Kim Stratton sings “a brand new song.” Although she’s referencing salvation, in another sense, “Unto the Lamb” is itself a brand new song – her first in six years. After focusing  on growing her catering business, the powerhouse church singer tears into Julie Meyer’s “blood” composition with the dramatic vitality that listeners have come to expect from the powerhouse church singer. The radio edit concludes just as Stratton is getting fired up, so I’d recommend the full length version. Regardless, a new ...

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Bonita Burney Simmons – This Time

Bonita Burney Simmons This Time Bursimslow Music (release date: August 6, 2016) www.bonitaburneysimmons.com By Bob Marovich Bonita Burney Simmons has been compared to Tramaine Hawkins, but I hear more than a touch of Gladys Knight in her voice on her most recent album, This Time. Especially on the opening track, the mid-tempo “God’s People Arise.” Simmons possesses a creamy voice that only moves into evangelist territory when the spirit hits her, as on “I Must Tell Jesus.” This track finds her singing at her most inspired as she shares how she almost gave up. When she became too tired to fight, ...

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Jonathan Nelson Wants Listeners to be “Inspired, Encouraged, and Empowered” by New Album

By Bob Marovich In 1776, the Declaration of Independence freed American people from the oppression of the Royal Crown. In 2018, Jonathan Nelson’s seventh studio album, Declarations, is intended to free all people for salvation under the Holy Crown. The Stellar Award-winning singer and songwriter releases Declarations (Entertainment One) nationwide and through digital outlets today, Friday, September 14. “I want the album to leave listeners inspired, encouraged, and empowered,” Nelson told the Journal of Gospel Music. “If they sing these songs of themselves, they can see the results of what they say. If they say ‘I’m healed,’ they can be free ...

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Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir – Thank You

Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir Thank You (EP) Pure Harvest Entertainment, 2014 859-233-4876 By Bob Marovich For decades, the mass choir movement has gathered together men and women of all ages and from a variety of denominations to fellowship in song. Though small in comparison to most mass choirs, the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir fits this definition. Organized in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1990, the choir’s most recent recording is a five-track EP called Thank You. The 2014 release features its leader, gospel music veteran Elder Arlester Washington. Back in the day, Washington sang and ...

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Joel Smith Homegoing Services Posted

By Bob Marovich As many readers already know, gospel drummer, bass player, bandleader and producer Joel Smith passed away on September 8 at age 58. Smith cut his teeth on gospel music by accompanying his uncles Edwin and Walter Hawkins. In 1977, at age thirteen, he played drums on Edwin’s Wonderful album. That was only the first; Smith would participate on many other Edwin Hawkins albums, including the classic Christmas album for Birthright. He participated in Walter’s historic Love Alive series and accompanied Tramaine Hawkins on bass and drums for her solo recordings. Smith also played bass guitar on Kurt ...

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