Christmas

“Jesus What a Wonderful Child” – Richard Davis

“Jesus What a Wonderful Child” Richard Davis From the R2D Music CD Christmas Rhapsody (release date: November 29, 2019) www.r2dmusic.com By Bob Marovich Richard Davis gives the Angelic Gospel Singers’ “Glory, Glory to the New Born King” a contemporary quartet-style makeover, complete with male background vocalists, a vamp, and enough blue notes and traditional turns to complement the robust rhythm section that carries the song along. It’s nice to hear this carol, for decades the most beloved Christmas song in the African American church community, get some attention in 2019. In addition to operating his R2D Studios, Davis is director ...

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Jonathan Butler – Christmas Together

Jonathan Butler Christmas Together Artistry Music / Mack Avenue Music Group (release date: October 4, 2019) www.mackavenue.com By Bob Marovich Christmas Together is the second holiday-themed album for singer, producer, and multi-instrumentalist Jonathan Butler, one that he recorded and mixed in his home studio in Southern California. Whenever the album isn’t offering up dreamy instrumental arrangements of classic Christmas carols by some of smooth jazz’s best-known musicians, it is evoking the soulfulness of Stevie Wonder. You hear Wonder’s frictionless resonance in Butler’s lead vocals on “Winter Wonderland” (no pun intended) and “Oh Come, Oh Come Emmanuel.” “Mary Did You Know,” ...

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Melanie Penn – Immanuel: The Folk Sessions

Melanie Penn Immanuel: the Folk Sessions (EP) Equally Well Music, LLC (release date: October 25, 2019) www.melaniepenn.com By Bob Marovich A different kind of Christmas album, Immanuel: the Folk Sessions tells the story of the Nativity from the perspective of several Biblical personae. It is an acoustic version of some songs originally available on Melanie Penn’s 2017 release, Immanuel. “All Things are Possible” reflects on the miracle of a virgin woman giving birth, while “Great Things” finds Mary praising God for this inexplicable miracle. On the sprightly “Gift of Love,” the angels tell Mary not to be afraid, to go ...

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JGM Music Hour – Christmas 2018 Mixtape

Merry Christmas!  Here is the playlist for the Journal of Gospel Music’s special Christmas 2018 Mixtape: Something’s happening – CeCe Winans It must be Christmas time – Courtney Franklin & Sierra Ward-Pope Tis the season – Tony & the Essential Band That time of year – Lee Walker & Spirit Merry Christmas – Prez Blackmon Joy – Bishop J.D. Means Sr. This time of year – Anthony Faulkner It’s Christmas – CeCe Winans O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – Audrey DuBois Harris Greatest gift – Shonda English Have yourself a merry little Christmas – Herb Middleton feat. E.L. Williams Christ ...

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Richard Davis – Christ the Lord (EP)

Richard DavisChrist the Lord (EP)R2D Music / Flaydo Music (release date: November 30, 2018)www.r2dmusic.com By Bob Marovich The title of Richard Davis’s Christmas EP comes from the reason for the season, from the album’s title track (and single), and from the lyrics of “O Come All Ye Faithful,” one of the songs in the “Christmas Rhapsody” instrumental medley that opens the four-track project. “Christmas Rhapsody” shifts from Trans-Siberian orchestral to funky as it sets the tone for a big production. And whether Davis is covering classic carols or rendering new songs, the constant is the fullness of the arrangements. The rhythm section fills all the ...

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“Silent Night” – Eddie Ruth Bradford

“Silent Night” Eddie Ruth Bradford Eddie Ruth Bradford Music (2018) By Bob Marovich Eddie Ruth Bradford could sing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus and it would sound carved out of the Mississippi hills. So it’s no surprise that the Clarksdale, Mississippi, native turns the Christmas classic “Silent Night” into a slice of southern soul as sticky as peach cobbler and just as tasty. She’s assisted by a vocal harmony group and a band with an organ that peeks out of the rhythm section to toss warbled notes like pixie dust. Another win for the “Delta Breeze.”

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CeCe Winans – Something’s Happening! A Christmas Album

CeCe Winans Something’s Happening! A Christmas Album Puresprings Gospel / Thirty Tigers (release date: October 19, 2018) www.cecewinans.com By Bob Marovich With Thanksgiving only a couple of weeks away, new Christmas recordings have begun trickling in. Among the best I’ve heard thus far this season is CeCe Winans’ Something’s Happening! A Christmas Album. One is struck immediately with how much Winans’ voice has deepened in tone since her last solo Christmas album in 1998. She wraps her mellowed voice around the holiday songs on this new release like tongues of flame around a yuletide log. The result is an album as cozy ...

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JGM Christmas Hour

              Playlist for Christmas Hour 2017: 1. Joy to the world – Chris Byrd & True Victory 2. Savior of the world – The Ginyards 3. Have yourself a merry little Christmas – E. L. Williams 4. O come Emmanuel – Mike McCoy & Voices United 5. Don’t take Christ out of Christmas – Angelo and Veronica 6. Carol of the bells – MARi 7. Make room for Jesus – Volunteer State Mass Choir 8. Angels we have heard on high – DOE 9. Oh what a pretty little baby – Liz McComb 10. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 11, 2017

“Go Tell It On the Mountain” Dr. Ray Berryhill & the Celebration Choir of RLCI KNEntertainment LLC (digital release date: Dec 19, 2017) By Bob Marovich The Celebration Choir of Resurrected Life Church International on Chicago’s North Side gospelizes this cheery Christmas spiritual with powerful doses of 1980s church choir energy. Dr. Ray Allen Berryhill preaches during the vamp as the choir responds with lethal attack harmonies. Senior Pastor Berryhill comes from strong gospel mettle, having worked as minister of music for the late “Singing” Sammy Lewis, who was an early member of the Roberta Martin Singers before he became a solo artist ...

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“Silent Night” – Pastor Alyn E. Waller

“Silent Night” Pastor Alyn E. Waller From Christmas with Pastor Alyn E. Waller (release date: November 27, 2017) By Bob Marovich Don’t let the introductory avalanche of synthesized sound stop you from hearing Pastor Alyn E. Waller’s affecting take on this timeless carol. He improvises skillfully—not too much, not too little—to excavate the gospel within the soul of this simple melody. The dreamy sax that you hear leading the interlude becomes the second voice on the second verse.  Nicely done. Dr. Waller is Senior Pastor of Enon Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

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