Author Archives: Bob Marovich

A Great Day in Chicago: Living Legends Honor Dolores “Honey” Sykes

It reminded me of the famous photograph, “A Great Day in Harlem.” This time, however, the venue wasn’t the entranceway of an apartment building but the Monument of Faith Church on Chicago’s South Side, and the artists weren’t jazz performers but living legends of gospel music. On October 22, 2005, at a luncheon honoring the life and work of Dolores “Honey” Sykes, a member of the famed Duncanaires and Thompson Community Singers, a group of pioneering gospel artists gathered to witness Honey receive an honorary doctorate of divinity. The photo capturing the auspicious moment – with Honey in full academic ...

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CD Review: Danny Brooks – Rock This House

Danny Brooks – Rock This House His House Records 2005www.dannybrooksmusic.com Danny Brooks holds claim to the title of Blue-Eyed Soul Man of Canada. He has a true love and deep respect for African-American roots music and the vocal chops to do it justice. Imagine a saved Springsteen and you have an idea of Danny Brooks’ sound. His latest release is called Rock This House, the second installment of his “Soulsville” series. The inspirational lyrics are drawn from the font of his personal struggles, but rather than offer a litany of tribulations for the listener to ponder, Brooks endows his songs ...

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Essential Gospel — Classic Recordings: No. 128

“Get Right Church” – Dixie Hummingbirds Peacock 17641956 The style, showmanship, and musical skill of the Dixie Hummingbirds are evident from the first few bars of this remarkably fun 1956 recording. While many quartets of the ‘40s, ‘50s, and ‘60s had a guitarist open their recordings by picking through the individual notes of a chord to provide members with their pitches, on “Get Right Church,” guitarist Howard Carroll dazzles with a quick, energetic riff that prepares the listener for the Birds’ more polished, professional quartet singing. Ira Tucker then uses this riff as his springboard, launching right into the song ...

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CD Review: Various Artists – Texas Gospel: Come on Over Here (Volume 1: 1951-53)

Various Artists – Texas Gospel: Come on Over Here (Volume 1: 1951-53)Acrobat Records ACMCD 42092005www.acrobatmusic.net Once again, Acrobat Records of England has given us a sampling of rare gospel recordings from the 1950s, many tracks that have not, until now, been available on a commercial reissue. This collection could easily have been titled, “Early Recordings from the Vaults of Duke/Peacock,” for that is what Acrobat has given us. Hence the Texas appellation, since Don Robey’s Peacock and Duke labels were headquartered in Houston, though the featured artists hail from cities such as Chicago and Memphis. The quartet recordings are mostly ...

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CD Review: Ministry Mark A. Smith

MinistryMark A. SmithDanbla Records 2005www.danblarecords.com Mark A. Smith is a pleasant gospel balladeer with better than average talent who infuses his quiet-storm gospel production with hip hop, rap, and jazz stylings to great effect. In fact, the tracks on which Smith experiments with styles not often associated with gospel music are the clear standouts on this overall fine project. The hip hop quality of “Get Ready” is very energizing, as is the rap-infused “Try Jesus,” with Brad “Changed Man” Reid providing the rap vocals. “Restoration” is the most infectious and radio-friendly performance in the collection, but “I’m Blessed” comes in ...

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Warriors “Work it Out” for Katrina Victims

I lament that most of today’s gospel music does not take a stand on political and social issues in the way that gospel artists from the ’40s to the ’70s had done. While this isn’t quite the rage-against-the-machine that I am suggesting, “Work It Out – The Katrina Remix” is at least an effort to harness the power of gospel music to comment on the country’s current social tragedy. And of course, wouldn’t you know it — it’s one of the gospel pioneers that has taken the first step. Way to go, Dr. Hayes and the Warriors! Now, who will ...

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CD Review: Happy in the Service of the Lord – Spirit of Memphis

Happy in the Service of the Lord: 1949 – 1954The Spirit of Memphis QuartetAcrobat ADDCD 3007www.acrobatmusic.net2005 If you know anything about the Spirit of Memphis, all I have to say is that Happy in the Service of the Lord includes their seminal King recordings, and you will know immediately that it is a fantastic, soul-stirring, spine-tingling listening experience. In addition, it is the most comprehensive collection of the quartet’s work commercially available on compact disc. Included on the two-CD collection are all of the Spirit of Memphis Quartet’s early recordings, from their limited-pressing Hallelujah Spirituals 78 and national debut on ...

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TBGB Pick of the Week: September 18, 2005

“Not Forgotten”Israel & New BreedFrom the forthcoming CD Alive in South Africa (available in stores October 25) Integrity Gospel After performing at an artists’ showcase during last year’s Gospel Music Workshop of America in Kansas City, Israel & New Breed hopped a plane to South Africa for a series of concerts and a live recording. The recording took place in Cape Town on August 20, and “Not Forgotten” is the first single from this new project, Alive in South Africa, due out October 25 from Integrity Gospel. The polyrhythmic “Not Forgotten,” with its simple lyrics (“I am not forgotten/God knows ...

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Albertina Walker to get NEA Fellowship Award

From The Belle Report (9/16/05): Baltimore, MD – In just a few days The National Endowment of The Arts Fellowship Award will be awarded to the Albertina Walker, also known as the “Queen of Gospel.” This honor is the highest honor given by the United States government to any artist. This award will be presented to Walker during three days of events with a banquet, awards ceremony and a concert in Maryland. National officials will present her with a medal of honor along $20,000 for her contributions to gospel music and the music art form. Ms. Walker is the only ...

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CD Review: The Remix – Dr. Charles G. Hayes and the Warriors

The RemixDr. Charles G. Hayes and the Warriors ICEE Inspirational CD ICEE-72962005 No choir comes close to the Warriors of Chicago’s Cosmopolitan Church of Prayer for excellence in traditional gospel performance. For more than forty years, the Warriors – under the direction of Dr. Charles G. Hayes and originally known as the choir of the Universal Kingdom of Christ – has stayed true to the dynamic, down-home sound of the gospel choir as designed by its architect, Thomas Andrew Dorsey. As such, the Warriors occupy the same rarified air as the famed Echoes of Eden of the St. Paul Baptist ...

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