Contemporary Christian Music

Camille Nelson – Sacred Lullabies

Camille Nelson Sacred Lullabies Heart Dance Records (release date: August 23, 2019) www.camillenelson.com By Bob Marovich Religious music comes in many shapes and sizes. It can be thunderous or austere, passionate or quiescent, joyful or somber. Regardless, for sacred music to be effective, it must, as Father of Gospel Music Thomas A. Dorsey once said, “prick the heart.” Sacred Lullabies, Utah musician Camille Nelson’s new collection of acoustic music, pricks the heart by drawing on folk, CCM, country, and Celtic influences. The album is as comforting as a loving embrace. In keeping with the title’s premise, many tracks are soothing ...

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Zion’s Joy! – What Would Heaven Look Like

Zion’s Joy! What Would Heaven Look Like Habakkuk Music (release date: March 8, 2019) www.zionsjoy.com By Bob Marovich Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, the multicultural small choir called Zion’s Joy! made national news in mid-2018 when the video for their single, “What Would Heaven Look Like,” was erroneously blocked by Facebook. From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department: it was only after the group paid to boost their Facebook post of the video that it was flagged by the social media giant as “political content” and subsequently blocked. The company ultimately apologized and restored the video on its platform, noting ...

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Danny Gokey: A Career that God Built

By Bob Marovich Twenty-seven-year-old Sophia Martinez Gokey was a big fan of American Idol. She taped the program so her husband Danny Gokey, also an enthusiast of the singing competition, could watch it after he returned home from work. Sophia eventually encouraged Danny to audition for the show and, in his final year of age eligibility for the program, Danny decided to go for it. But on July 9, 2008, four weeks before the American Idol audition was to take place in Kansas City, Sophia passed away. “It was tragic. It was heartbreaking,” Danny told the Journal of Gospel Music. ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 11, 2019

“Haven’t Seen It Yet” Danny Gokey Sparrow / Capitol Christian Music Group (release date: January 11, 2019) www.dannygokeymusic.com By Bob Marovich After a two-year hiatus, American Idol finalist and CCM star Danny Gokey is back with a new single, “Haven’t Seen It Yet.” The single evokes in melody and arrangement the pop hits of Sam Smith and Ed Sheeran, while the lyrics about the force of faith have the kind of dance-ready beat that propelled Jamie Grace’s equally motivational 2014 single, “Do Life Big.” Gokey’s album of the same title is scheduled for release in April.

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Kimberly Kaye – Old Time Gospel

Kimberly Kaye Old Time Gospel www.kimberlykayebachman.com By Bob Marovich Listening to Kimberly Kaye Bachman’s Old Time Gospel EP is like listening to an early Sunday morning radio broadcast emanating from an AM station in her native Iowa. The only thing missing is an encouraging emcee to introduce the singer and the songs. Kimberly does everything on the EP but engineer it; that task is entrusted to Eric Domkowski of Firewheel Audio. Otherwise, she deftly handles the lead vocals, the close country harmonies, and plays all of the stringed instruments (guitar, banjo and mandolin). The track list includes classic hymns as well ...

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The Many – All Belong Here

The Many All Belong Here Independent (release date: July 10, 2017) www.themanyarehere.com By Bob Marovich The title track of The Many’s All Belong Here could be the group’s official anthem. Everyone is welcome at the table of humanity, sings this Christian vocal harmony group from Chicago. Featuring the talents of Darren Calhoun, Hannah Rand, and Leslie Michelle, The Many walks the talk. It is as intentionally diverse and inclusive as the songs the group sings. Their harmonies may be sublime and their musical arrangements mostly laid back and delicate, but the singers are woke when it comes to acknowledging reality. ...

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2019 Absolutely Gospel Music Award Nominees Announced

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (January 16, 2019) – The administrators and staff of AbsolutelyGospel.com are proud to announce the nominees for the 2019 Absolutely Gospel Music Awards. As in years past, the nominees were chosen by the staff of AbsolutelyGospel.com and select media representatives. Starting on Monday, January 21, 2019, the fans will get a chance to vote for their favorites in several categories. “Once again, another year has come and gone, and we start this process all over again,” said Deon Unthank, President/CEO of AbsolutelyGospel.com. “This will be our 15th live show that we’ve produced, and we know that they ...

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Jessica Dalla Torre – Into Your Heart

Jessica Dalla Torre Into Your Heart Independent (release date: May 18, 2018) www.jessicadallatorre.com By Bob Marovich Originally from Johannesburg, South Africa, and with Portuguese roots, the angelic-voiced Jessica Dalla Torre brings her multicultural influences to bear in her worship music. At the same time, her new album, Into Your Heart, was recorded in Nashville and has a distinctly American CCM flavor. The overall vibe of the album’s ten songs is of a living room jam session that occasionally blasts through the roof and explodes like fireworks. This happens whenever Dalla Torre’s emotional singing reaches fever pitch (think Lady Gaga as worship ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 22, 2018

“Blue” Juliana Schnee (release date: October 5, 2018) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich With her soaring tones accented by endearing yodels, twenty-two-year-old singer Juliana Schnee sounds like a young LeAnn Rimes. Her inspirational song “Blue” is made all the more effective by the understated small jazz combo and strings that accompany her winsome urging to not let life get you down.  “Blue” blends jazz and inspirational lyrics in a way that dignifies both. A self-described lover of “Jesus and Jazz,” Schnee is from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania. As a child, she taught herself to play piano and ukulele and wrote ...

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“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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