Contemporary Gospel

JGM Pick of the Week: July 16, 2019

“Praise Belongs to You” Jason Clayborn & the Atmosphere Changers Tyscot Records www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich “Praise Belongs to You,” co-written by Grammy Award-nominated gospel songwriter Jason Clayborn, author of such hits as Hezekiah Walker’s “Better” and Ricky Dillard’s “I Survived It,” is Clayborn’s debut single as an artist for Tyscot Records. Assisted by his small choir, the Atmosphere Changers, Clayborn offers a radio-ready praise anthem aided by full-bodied production, dramatic key changes, and lead vocal assists from Isaiah Freeman and Matt Austin. The Atmosphere Changers incrementally build the song’s tension with passionate and full-throated harmonies until the only place ...

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“After All These Years” – Freddi Rene

“After All These Years” Freddi Rene From the CD Guide Me www.freddirene.com By Bob Marovich On its surface, “After All These Years,” written by Carl Phillips, Gabriel Young, and producer Gregory G. Pearson, sounds like a conventional love song. But in the song’s first few seconds, Freddi Rene asserts that the source of her love is the Lord. The breezy contemporary single contains hints of Freddi’s hometown of Detroit in its Whitfield-esque jazz chord progressions and complex melody. In fact, if you slowed it down, “After All These Years” sounds like something the Clark Sisters would sing. Freddi Rene has ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 8, 2019

“Amazing Grace” Rachel Hawkes Independent (release date: May 1, 2019) We know the hymn, but English singer Rachel Hawkes makes it her own with a new verse, harmonica-tight harmonies, and an easy, delightful delivery. The contrast between the thumping percussion and Hawkes’ honey-smooth voice sells the song. Classically trained—she played cello for two orchestras—Rachel Hawkes has been singing and writing for more ten years. Her cello solo on Saint-Saens’ “Le Cygne” is just as disarming as her work on “Amazing Grace.” With more than six albums to her credit, she may just be one of the best singers you’ve never ...

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Absolution – Breakthrough

Absolution Breakthrough Independent (release date: March 14, 2019) By Bob Marovich On the album Breakthrough, Absolution adopts an ‘80s R&B vocal group style mixed with elements of smooth jazz to deliver religious and inspirational songs inspired by personal experience. The mixed-voice group Absolution was organized in North Augusta, South Carolina, in 2014 by singer-songwriter Wayne Mims and lead guitarist John Henry Walker. The members’ ages run from teenager to senior, so it seems as if they found a happy medium in laying down ’80s-vintage smooth R&B as their musical foundation. While the members of Absolution don’t go into great detail ...

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“Fresh Wind” – Kim Person

“Fresh Wind”Kim PersonFrom the KLP Enterprises CD The Journey(release date: January 26, 2019) By Bob Marovich As a child growing up in North Carolina, Kim Person was known for her big voice. Her big voice has gotten more substantial with time and experience and can be heard in full flower on her new single, “Fresh Wind.” “Fresh Wind” has the skeleton of a hymn and the flesh and blood of a gospel song. It features thickly (perhaps excessively) produced instrumentation, a bevy of background vocalists, and Kim Person’s ever-present exuberance, which builds in evangelistic intensity as the song moves to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 11, 2019

“Amazing”The Davis’Heartbeatz Productions LLCwww.realdavismusic.com By Bob Marovich A family that prays together stays together, and that goes double for family groups that sing their prayers. Like the Davis Family of Inkster, Michigan. The members of this sibling act–Carl, James, Andrea and Angela (the girls are twins)—demonstrate their choir-honed harmonies and church-refined song delivery on their new single, “Amazing.” To choruses of sunny “shoo-doos” and equally cheerful musicianship, the four express admiration at all God has created. Then they call on fellow Michigander Twinkie Clark, who changes the song’s mood from contemporary to traditional by injecting into the mix a battery ...

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“All of My Help” – Northern Delaware Chapter of GMWA Recording Choir

“All of My Help” Northern Delaware Chapter of GMWA Recording Choir Enon Music Group (release date: January 18, 2019) By Bob Marovich With the full-throated energy of a workshop choir, which it is, and the intrepid technique of New G, the Recording Choir of the Northern Delaware Chapter of the Gospel Music Workshop of America pounds out the thunderous and aerobic “All of My Help.” The choir, directed by Minister Wayne E. Carter Sr., affectionately known as “the Maestro,” supports soloist Tamba Giles on this musical version of Psalm 121. Collectively, they deliver the message of the Psalm with the ...

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“I Am More than a Conqueror” – Tonya Lewis Taylor

“I Am More than a Conqueror” Tonya Lewis Taylor EARS Group (release date: April 3, 2019) www.tonyalewistaylor.com By Bob Marovich Affirmations created from popular Bible verses—1 John 4:4 and Philippians 4:13, for example—are strung together and given a contemporary swagger on Tonya Lewis Taylor’s new single, “I Am More than a Conqueror.” Directed vocally by TLT, the male and female voices in the backing choir take turns responding to her declamations of overcoming and collectively join in reminders that one “can do all things through Christ.” Though credited to Tonya as a solo, the single is actually a swaying mid-tempo ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 13, 2019

“Hallelujah” E. D. Mondaine’ From the Achaia Records release Hallelujah (release date: February 7, 2019) www.edmondaine.com By Bob Marovich Sure, Leonard Cohen’s masterpiece “Hallelujah” is about a love affair gone sour, but given that it is gilded with lines from Scripture, I’m surprised that more Christian artists haven’t gospelized it over the years. Gospel artist and pastor Apostle E. D. Mondaine’ has just rendered the beautiful ballad, made it the title track of his new album, and altered some of the lyrics to make it more spiritual. He opens the song with the same lovingly delicate reading that most singers ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 29, 2019

“Won’t He Do It”Kim RuffSarahschild Records (release date: April 19, 2019) By Bob Marovich A bracing tempo with hard-charging musicians and background vocalists support Stellar Award winner Kim Ruff on her new single, “Won’t He Do It.” Ruff gives this simple song with a simple message an invigorating delivery. Exploding with gratitude over God’s intercession in her life and wanting to share it with the world, she shouts, scoops, and delivers staccato lines with gusto. Though one may be more familiar with Ruff’s smooth singing, such as on the ballad masterpiece “As Good as It Gets” from her 2009 Ready ...

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