Contemporary Gospel

Chris Jasper – Thank You Jesus

Chris Jasper Thank You Jesus Gold City Music (2015; re-release date: August 11, 2016) www.ChrisJasper.com By Bob Marovich Someone once asked a singer to define the difference between gospel and jazz. The artist answered with two words: the lyrics. The same can be said about the difference between gospel and pretty much all genres, including R&B and soul. Proof positive: Thank You Jesus, Chris Jasper’s two-CD compilation of his gospel and inspirational material. Jasper, former songwriter, producer, and vocalist for the Isley Brothers and Isley-Jasper-Isley, presses his retro smooth soul stylings into the service of the Lord. Some songs are inspirational ...

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Ted Winn featuring Balance – Stand in Awe

Ted Winn featuring Balance Stand in Awe Shanachie Records (release date: September 1, 2017) www.shanachie.com By Bob Marovich First attracting the attention of the national gospel music audience in 1995 as one-half of the duo Ted & Sheri (with Sheri Jones-Moffett), Ted Winn has been a solo artist for nearly a decade. Winn’s latest project, Stand in Awe, continues his commitment to “horizontal” praise songs that are more in keeping with gospel’s lyric tradition than the “vertical” Contemporary Christian Music that lofts praises without explicitly acknowledging how God helps his people overcome the life struggles and persistent oppression that cannot be ignored ...

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Darnell Davis & the Remnant – Live Again

Darnell Davis & the Remnant Live Again D Davis Entertainment / MVP Productions (release date: August 11, 2017) www.darnelldavismusic.com By Bob Marovich Those who know Darnell Davis’s story—those who don’t can read it here—will understand why the overarching theme of his new album with the Remnants, Live Again, is spiritual survival. From the opening selection, “I Am a Miracle,” to the devil’s dirty dealings in “No You Can’t Have It,” to the churchy call-and-response of “I’m Still Here,” the lyrics speak of the battle one wages against the insistent and persistent force of evil. The title’s double meaning helps hammer home this ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 10, 2017

“I’ve Got to Win” Tonya Lewis-Taylor From the EARS Entertainment Group I’ve Got to Win 2.0 (EP, released August 24, 2017) www.tonyalewistaylor.com By Bob Marovich “I’ve Got to Win” is Tonya Lewis-Taylor at her most expressive. This slow burner of a title track is a modified and more radio-ready version of the title track and emotional highpoint of her 2014 live album, Delayed but Not Denied. Like its predecessor, the inspirational “I’ve Got to Win” benefits from delicate musical accompaniment that provides Lewis-Taylor ample room to emote about how she has persisted in her journey despite almost insurmountable odds. A ...

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Patrick Lundy & the Ministers of Music – By Faith

Patrick Lundy & the Ministers of Music By Faith New Day Distribution (release date: October 27, 2017) www.plundymom.com By Bob Marovich By Faith, the latest full-length release by Patrick Lundy & the Ministers of Music, contains the group’s finest work to date. The quality of the MOM vocalists, individually and collectively, make By Faith strong, but so does the selection of songs and songwriters. While Lundy contributes original compositions, such as “It’s On the Way,” a powerfully-rendered ballad of encouragement, other songwriters include top-shelfers V. Michael McKay (“Rest”), Byron Cage (“From the Rising”), and Stephen Manders (“Under His Wings”). The songs dip frequently into ...

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Marvin Sapp – Close

Marvin Sapp Close RCA Inspiration (release date: September 29, 2017) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Ever since 2007’s Thirsty and its crossover hit, “Never Would Have Made It,” a Marvin Sapp album release has become something of a special event. As a result, every one of his albums, starting with Thirsty, has hit the number one position on Billboard’s Top Gospel Albums chart. Close, released tomorrow on RCA Inspiration, is probably going to be the next number one for Bishop Sapp, whose muscular voice and aggressive delivery reminds me of his fellow Commissioned member, Fred Hammond. The album, produced by longtime collaborator Aaron Lindsey, opens ...

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“Calvary’s Cross” – Min. David A. Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions

“Calvary’s Cross” Minister David A. Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions (release date: September 29, 2017) http://dawhitfieldproductions.webs.com/ By Bob Marovich On their latest single, “Calvary’s Cross,” Minister David Whitfield II & Whitfield Productions raise aloft the standard of expansive contemporary choir singing established in part by David’s uncle, the late Maestro Thomas Whitfield. This call-and-response piece on the cleansing power of Jesus’s death on the cross is produced by Pastor Rudolph Stanfield Jr., another towering giant of Detroit gospel. Thunderous singing, thick harmonies, and melancholy instrumentation rise toward the conclusion like the ascent to Calvary. Whitfield Productions can trace its founding to a May 18, ...

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“Believe” – Marnae Greenhill

“Believe” Marnae Greenhill GStar Entertainment (release date: January 27, 2017) www.marnaegreenhill.org By Bob Marovich Biblical references about Jesus’s miracles abound in this up-tempo selection, especially his raising up of Lazarus, whose emergence from the darkness of death into the light of life is a metaphor for singer Marnae Greenhill’s personal rescue “from a dark place.” The Baltimore native gives the song a decent, energetic reading, as befits the subject matter.  The recording would have been better without the over-caffeinated electronic burbles and a more strategic use of the background vocalists, all of which enthuse over Greenhill’s overcoming but too often overshadow the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 5, 2017

“Never Give Up on You” Dennis Yancey http://www.igaraa.com/dennis-yancey.html By Bob Marovich Indie gospel artist Dennis Yancey’s “Never Give Up on You” is a simple, effective, and tunefully smooth ballad about maintaining complete trust in God, especially during the tough times, because God has never given up on us. Yancey’s relaxed vocals make his singing sound effortless. Sparkling production by Suga Mike Allen ensures that the message is undeniably clear. It’s reminiscent of their earlier collaboration on the equally compelling ballad of faith, “Though You Slay Me.” From Queens, New York, Dennis Yancey just celebrated his 40th birthday last month. A full ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 29, 2017

“Higher Place” Angelo and Veronica From the forthcoming A & V Music CD The Truth http://angeloandveronica.com/ By Bob Marovich In 1992, fresh on the scene and armed with training from Berklee College of Music, contemporary Christian singing duo Angelo and Veronica released their first album, Higher Place, on A & M Records. Among the songs they co-wrote for their debut disc was the title track, a song about a “place where you can just be you.” Luring the listener with the lyric line, “You take me to a higher place / You take me to a place I’ve never been ...

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