Contemporary Christian Music

withLove (self-titled)

withLove withLove (released October 15, 2016) https://withlovemusic.bandcamp.com/album/withlove-deluxe-edition By Bob Marovich It is appropriate to begin 2017 with a post about a group that has love in its name and sings about love. A love of God, a love for God, and a love for all of God’s creation frame the self-titled debut by Baltimore’s multicultural ensemble withLove. In addition to music, withLove, formed by David Warren in 2013, holds “Love Projects” around the Baltimore area, where they serve the sick and shut-in and feed the homeless. withLove, the album and group, offer an eclectic mix of symphonic CCM, rock (progressive ...

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Rick Stephenson – My Everything

Rick Stephenson My Everything N-Siteful Music (release date: August 1, 2016) www.rickstephensonmusic.com By Bob Marovich Christian singer-songwriter Rick Stephenson is no stranger to the recording studio. My Everything represents his latest album in at least four full-length CDs in his career. The new album contains ten radio-sized and pleasantly rendered pieces by Stephenson, a Johnson Creek, Wisconsin-based artist whose songwriting technique suggests he is an astute student of the pop song. Indeed, as a youth, Stephenson spent a great deal of time listening to Top 40 radio, and it shows.  The self-professed “Pop Gospel Musician-ary” links lyrics of faith and gratitude ...

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Joel Houston and Director Michael John Warren Discuss Hillsong Film “Let Hope Rise”

By Bob Marovich Hillsong – Let Hope Rise, the music documentary about the history and phenomenon that is Sydney, Australia’s Hillsong, “the biggest band you’ve never heard of,” hits U.S. theaters September 16. JGM spoke by telephone recently with Joel Houston of Hillsong UNITED and the film’s director, Michael John Warren, whose prior projects include documentaries on Jay-Z and Nicki Minaj and the large-scale event film Rent: Filmed Live on Broadway. JGM: How did the idea of the film come about? MJW: To be candid, the idea came from some producers who brought it to me. I’ve made a lot ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 5, 2016

“Faith Can” Debbie Cochran From the album Faith Can (single released September 2, 2016) www.cdbaby.com/cd/debbiecochran5 There’s nothing like country music to evoke the angst of heartbreak. When combined with spirituality and faith, country music can turn heartbreak into inspiration. That’s what you get with “Faith Can,” a country ballad composed and sung by country singer-songwriter Debbie Cochran to celebrate the courage of fourteen-year-old competitive gymnast Kate Foster. Foster’s acute myeloid leukemia indirectly caused her to lose half of her left leg but none of her passion or conviction for life. Now wearing a prosthetic leg, Foster is back in training. Her ...

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Gretchen Keskeys – Walking in the Spirit

Gretchen Keskeys Walking in the Spirit Creative Soul Records (released June 27, 2016) www.gretchenkeskeys.com By Bob Marovich For singer-songwriter Gretchen Keskeys, her debut album Walking in the Spirit is not only a vehicle for sharing her religious commitment, it is also a vehicle for personal catharsis. As a teen, Keskeys, the daughter of a famous psychiatrist, was suffering from anxiety, fear, and depression. A rededication to Christ was the way she relieved her insecurities. Seeking to share her good fortune with others, Keskeys began serving as a worship leader in Northern California churches. Her reputation for singing and songwriting spread outward ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 28, 2016

“Living for Jesus” Sophiya Rocktown Records (2015) http://praiseworldradio.com/sophiya-living-for-jesus What makes “Living for Jesus” special is the robust elegance with which singer, songwriter, worship leader, and TV personality Sophia Ariba (aka Sophiya) delivers the lush, melodic worship ballad. Given the multicultural popularity of P&W today, the Nigerian singer’s style can fit in anywhere in the world. In addition to singing, Sophiya hosts “Dedication” on Loveworld Plus TV. The program gives viewers the opportunity to send special requests while enjoying contemporary gospel.

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Holly Ann – Light and Bloom

Holly Ann Light and Bloom Deeper Well Records (release date: January 13, 2016) www.deeper-well.com By Bob Marovich Last year, Liz Vice demonstrated that some of the best spiritual music doesn’t have to come from established channels of gospel and CCM talent. Portland, Oregon’s Christian alternative singer-songwriter Holly Ann Winchell (aka Holly Ann) is another pleasant discovery in this same vein.  Released last month on Deeper Well Records, her Light and Bloom is a great big introspective thank you letter to God. The album’s praise songs are atmospheric and minimal, Holly Ann’s voice beguiling and poignant. Although her publicity cites Mazzy Star as ...

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Gospel Music Icon Buck Rambo Passes Away

Nashville, Tenn (February 21, 2016) – Gospel music legend Richard Fay “Buck” Rambo, beloved patriarch of the Gospel music family, The Rambos, died, February 21, 2016, at 6:02 PM in Palmetto, Florida, at the age of 84, surrounded by his loving wife Mae and family members. He was born in Dawson Springs, Kentucky, son of Noah Burton Rambo and Mary Irisilda Rambo. Buck was married to Mae Kutz Rambo on April 1, 1995. Survivors include his wife Mae, daughter Reba Rambo (Dony) McGuire, grandchildren Israel Anthem McGuire, Destiny Rambo McGuire, Dionne (Scott) Dismuke, Dyson Dismuke, sister Hilda Bullock, brothers Donald ...

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Nicol Sponberg – Awake My Soul

Nicol Sponberg Awake My Soul Discovery House (release date: September 18, 2015) https://dhp.org/ By Bob Marovich As a Catholic kid attending Catholic elementary school, I spent many a weekly church service singing along to the austere church hymns that the organist pumped out at lock-step rhythm. But to a 1970s pre-teen, who thrilled to the pyrotechnic rock of the era, those hymns, in that lock-step rhythm, sung lifelessly by a bunch of knockabouts like me, seemed like some of the squarest songs on the planet. Too bad Nicol Sponberg wasn’t with us then to inject some of her musical magic ...

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Sandra McCracken – Psalms

Sandra McCracken Psalms (2015) www.sandramccracken.com By Bob Marovich Nashville singer-songwriter Sandra McCracken —more accurately described as a singer-hymnist—is breathing new life into traditional church music. On Psalms, her latest in a string of solo albums going back fifteen years, McCracken demonstrates that the austere melodies and lyrics that served as the soundtrack to Sunday mornings for centuries are just as relevant today. On record, McCracken sounds like the artistic sister of the Eagle Rock Gospel Singers who holed up in her room listening to Laura Nyro when they were digging the drive tempo selections of the Canton Spirituals and Dixie ...

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