Contemporary Christian Music

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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URIM7 – The Assignment

URIM 7 The Assignment JOSJOI Productions (2015) https://www.reverbnation.com/urim7band By Bob Marovich Not all Jamaican music is reggae, dancehall, rock steady, or any of the other popular sounds associated with the country. In fact, with rare exception, as Mike McGonigal pointed out in his notes to the reissue collection, Noah Found Grace, Jamaican gospel music was inspired by white southern gospel singing heard after hours on U.S. AM radio. Although a connection to the contemporary gospel music scene has added more soulfulness to the Jamaican sacred sound over the years, gospel from that country still has more in common with the softer ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 7, 2015

“Nada me Faltara’” Denyse Bittencourt From the CD Um Minuto Mais www.denysebittencourt.com.br “Nada me Faltara’,” from Brazilian songstress and songwriter Denyse Bittencourt’s Um Minuto Mais, envelops the listener in an easy warmth of mood and tone. Bittencourt’s crystal clear soprano is tinged with just enough passion to bring the song to an intense apex. The title translates from Portugese to English as “I Shall Not Want,” from the first line of Psalm 23 (“The Lord Is My Shepherd”).  But as with any good song, well rendered, you don’t necessarily need to know what the words mean to get the message. Denyse Bittencourt ...

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Appointed2 – This Journey

Appointed2 This Journey (2014) www.appointed2.com By Bob Marovich Husband-and-wife music evangelists Randy and Amy Nichols are part of a tradition going back nearly a century, and perhaps longer. The difference is that back in the day, evangelists sang and played stringed instruments on street corners. The Nichols’s, known as Appointed2, perform at pulpits and on stages, just as they did at the recent Rhythm of Gospel Awards, where they took home two honors, including CCM Artist of the Year. Their ten-track, thirty-minute album This Journey provides a flavor for Appointed2’s down home evangelism. Again, like their forebears, Randy and Amy ...

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