Breaking News

RIP: Edwin Hawkins, Architect of Contemporary Gospel

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music has learned that Edwin Hawkins, whose arrangement of the nineteenth-century hymn “Oh Happy Day” became a crossover success and signaled the emergence of contemporary gospel music, passed away today (Jan. 15) in Pleasanton, California. Here is a brief biography I put together: Born August 19, 1943, to Mamie and Dan Lee Hawkins, Edwin Hawkins grew up in music. Trained by his elder brother, Edwin began playing piano at age five and accompanied the family group. By the time he was sixteen, Edwin had sung at a variety of churches in the Bay Area and was part ...

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JGM’s Best CDs, Singles, and Historic Reissues of 2017

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music presents its Best of 2017 list in the categories of CDs, songs, and historical releases. The recordings were not chosen based on sales, chart status, promotion, voting, fan popularity, number of likes or retweets, committee decisions, throwing darts, reading tea leaves, arm twisting, or anything other than JGM: 1) was serviced with the music for review and 2) believes they best represent gospel/Christian/sacred music in 2017 in terms of overall quality of music, message, and presentation. Artists whose music does not appear here: do not despair. These lists were compiled from many hundreds of releases ...

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A New Year’s Message to Gospel Artists

By Bob Marovich (I posted this initially on Facebook but had an inquiry to place it on the Journal, so here it is, verbatim). Based on what I read in the gospel section of the 2017 year-end Billboard issue, I believe the gospel music industry can be disrupted by an artist or artists who do the following: Set excess to the side – tone it down – we know what the band sounds like. We want to hear more of YOU. Focus more on the streets of gold than the red carpet. Humility and Integrity should be your motto. Never ever settle ...

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RIP Pastor Norris Turner, Quartet Veteran

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music has learned that veteran quartet singer Pastor Norris Turner passed away yesterday evening. He was 81 years old. Norris Turner was born March 19, 1936, in Troy, South Carolina, to Johnnie and Helen Chiles Turner.  As a youngster, Turner sang with various quartets, including the Golden Stars of Greenwood, South Carolina; the Spiritualaires of Columbia, South Carolina; Therman Ruth’s famous Selah Singers of New York; and the Brooklyn All Stars. An article by Damian Dominguez for South Carolina newspaper The Index-Journal notes that when Turner was with the Selah Singers, he performed for President ...

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Bill Hearn, Christian/Gospel Music Executive, Dead at 58

NASHVILLE, December 11, 2017—William Ray “Bill” Hearn, a highly admired and revered music industry executive who led the Nashville-based market-leading Capitol Christian Music Group (CCMG) as its Chairman & CEO, passed away yesterday at age 58 in Nashville, Tennessee. Hearn successfully combined an unwavering vision, a commitment to excellence, and an arsenal of exceptional talent to make CCMG the leader in the Christian/Gospel music industry. Hearn was instrumental in the formation and leadership of that company, having played a leading role in the sale and highly-successful transition of family-owned Sparrow Records – founded by his father, Billy Ray Hearn – ...

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Check Out the Trailer for “Detroit: The Gospel Journey”

By Bob Marovich If you think the story of music in Detroit begins and ends with Motown, think again. Detroit’s gospel music legacy goes back many decades, way before Berry Gordy started Hitsville, USA.  The contributions that Detroiters have made to gospel music continue to enrich the genre today. The story of gospel music in Detroit was just waiting to be told by the right person.  That right person is Marcel West.  With great passion and diligence, West spent years mining archival photos, videos, and other rare ephemera, and interviewing the living legends who took gospel music around the world. The result is a documentary DVD called Detroit: The Gospel Journey. The ...

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The Recording Academy Announces 60th GRAMMY Nominees

Congratulations to the 60th GRAMMY nominees in the Gospel/Contemporary Christian Music categories: 36. Best Gospel Performance/Song • Too Hard Not To Tina Campbell; Tina Campbell & Warryn Campbell, songwriters • You Deserve It JJ Hairston & Youthful Praise Featuring Bishop Cortez Vaughn; David Bloom, JJ Hairston, Phontane Demond Reed & Cortez Vaughn, songwriters • Better Days Le’Andria • My Life The Walls Group; Warryn Campbell, Eric Dawkins, Damien Farmer, Damon Thomas, Ahjah Walls & Darrel Walls, songwriters • Never Have To Be Alone CeCe Winans; Dwan Hill & Alvin Love III, songwriters 37. Best Contemporary Christian Music Performance/Song • Oh ...

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RIP: Della Reese, Sang with Mahalia Jackson, the Meditation Singers

By Bob Marovich Although better known as a television actor and pop singer, Della Reese made her early foray into professional music as a gospel singer. As a teenager, she worked with Mahalia Jackson and, later, with Brown’s Inspirational Singers (Indianapolis) and the Meditation Singers (Detroit). Maureen O’Donnell’s obituary in the Chicago Sun-Times offers a look at the decades-spanning career of Della Reese. Read it here: Della Reese. The Journal of Gospel Music salutes the late Della Reese with this clip of her singing “Lonelyville” in the 1958 film, Let’s Rock.

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RIP: Pastor Shawn Jones

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music was saddened to learn of the sudden passing of Pastor Shawn Jones of the Alabama quartet Shawn Jones and the Believers. Here is the group’s biography, from their Facebook page: “Pastor Shawn Jones (Formally of The Alabama Spirituals) & The Believers started singing in the year of 2000 at the First Baptist Church in Rockford, AL. They appeared on shows with gospel great like Lee Williams & The Spiritual QC’s, Rev. Andrew Cheers & The Song Birds, Darrell McFadden & The Disciples, Slim & The Supreme Angels, and Dorothy Norwood. “After a ...

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“How They Got Over” Receives Award at Chicago Film and Music Festival

How They Got Over, a documentary film by Robert Clem about gospel quartets and their contribution to rock and roll, received the “Best Killer Soundtrack” Award from the ninth Chicago International Movies and Music Festival, better known as CIMMFest. The documentary was shown at the Davis Theater last Saturday afternoon as part of the festival. Gospel legend Willie Rogers of the Soul Stirrers joined Clem, co-producer Jerry Zolten, and gospel historian Bob Marovich for a brief Q&A session afterward. How They Got Over features interviews from singing stars such as Clarence Fountain (Blind Boys of Alabama), Rev. Thomas Spann (Brooklyn All Stars), Ira ...

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