Christmas

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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Liz McComb – Merry Christmas

Liz McComb Merry Christmas GVE (release date: November 24, 2017) www.lizmccomb.com By Bob Marovich Liz McComb is one of the finest exporters of American soul and gospel to Europe. For her first-ever holiday album, Merry Christmas, she has mined traditional carols as well as Christmas songs from the African American experience and recorded them in Paris. The album is resplendent with delicate arrangements that accentuate the musicality of the singer and her team of musicians. There are no less than three keyboard players who participate—McComb included—and all are excellent. And Jean Wellers’ deft jazz guitar work makes “The Christmas Song” ...

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“Don’t Take Christ Out of Christmas” – Angelo and Veronica

“Don’t Take Christ Out of Christmas” Angelo and Veronica www.angeloandveronica.com By Bob Marovich Many Christmases ago, while driving through a suburb of Chicago, I passed a house with a giant lighted plastic Santa on the back deck. On the ground, in Santa’s shadow, was a miniscule Nativity scene. For me, Enormous Santa towering over the manger scene like a Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float remains the epitome of Christmas consumerism. This is just what husband-and-wife duo Angelo and Veronica are getting at in their single, “Don’t Take Christ Out of Christmas.” Opening with the jangle of jingle bells, the song evokes the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 26, 2016

“Away in a Manager” The Wardlaw Brothers Available on iTunes Appropriately, the final Pick of the Week for 2016 is a beloved nineteenth-century Christmas carol given a contemporary flourish by the Wardlaw Brothers. Cascading harmonies introduce a slight variation on the carol’s traditional melody, giving the piece even more of a lullaby-like quality. A delicate string-led arrangement underpins the group’s ensemble and solo work. But what makes the Wardlaw Brothers’ singing on this carol especially appealing is a prominent bass vocal line that complements the complex high register harmonies. By the conclusion, one can understand why the Wardlaw Brothers have been nicknamed ...

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“Oh Come Emmanuel” by Jason Nelson and LIVV: An Interview

By Marianne Richard, Special Contributor to the Journal of Gospel Music Jason Nelson just released his Christmas song, “Oh Come Emmanuel,” featuring LIVV, a new gospel singer with a unique voice and a beautiful spirit. When LIVV shared details on the “behind the scenes” of the making of the track, we realized that this Christmas single is more than it presents.  It is a heavy collaboration between Jason Nelson and LIVV. Now, in full confidence, we can say that the song truly exemplifies all that Christmas stands for. Of course, we were not going to keep what we learned from LIVV ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 21, 2015

“Oh Come All Ye Faithful” Grace Covenant Worship From the CD Christmas With Grace: A Mosaic in Song www.gracecov.org Grave Covenant in Chantilly, Virginia, is a “multi-ethnic, multi-site, multi-racial” church with a dynamic music and arts department. “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” from the church’s Christmas release, is delicately orchestrated with strings but also features a firm rhythm section. You can feel the lush harmonies, with flourishes of big round gospel chords, washing over the congregation. Soloists Candice Hinton, Robert Ellis, and songwriter Tifani Wilson assist in raising the carol’s temperature from the first note to the last. Rendered with ...

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Candi Staton – Christmas In My Heart

Candi Staton Christmas In My Heart Beracah Records (2001) www.candi-staton.com By Bob Marovich Many music fans first heard Candi Staton when she was a disco diva, filling dance floors with her 1976 hit, “Young Hearts Run Free.” Others discovered her a few years earlier when, as a Muscle Shoals recording artist, she was dubbed the “First Lady of Southern Soul.” But two decades before disco and Muscle Shoals, young Canzetta Staton and her sister Maggie started their professional singing careers as two-thirds of the Jewel Gospel Trio. By the 1980s, following a series of personal challenges, Candi left pop music ...

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