Contemporary Gospel

JGM Pick of the Week: September 21, 2020

“I Can’t Give Up” Byron Cage From the AIR / Malaco Music Group CD Isolation www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich It turns out the title of multiple Stellar Awardee Byron Cage’s September 2019 album, Isolation, was prophetic. But on “I Can’t Give Up,” the album’s latest single release, Cage and his background vocalists declare that their present circumstances don’t define them. “I’m built to win,” Cage enthuses, singing on his own behalf as well as on behalf of the listeners. The troupe sets pulpit-honed wisdom such as “I’ve come too far” and “no weapon formed against me shall proper” to an ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 14, 2020

“Precious Lord, Take My Hand” Dr. Henry Jackson From the Hawke Music CD Good to Me (release date: July 24, 2019) https://www.hawkemusicllc.com By Bob Marovich It’s great to hear new recordings from Dr. Henry Jackson, an alumnus of the Los Angeles Community Choir and Cleveland Singers, as well as a group leader, soloist and songwriter in his own right. From his 2019 album Good to Me, Jackson gives Thomas A. Dorsey’s “Precious Lord” a more optimistic bounce while maintaining the dignity of the composition. Over the course of a few key changes and nearly seven minutes, Jackson and a group ...

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PJ Morton: Gospel According to PJ

PJ Morton Gospel According to PJ Morton Inspiration / Tyscot (digital release date: August 14, 2020; physical release date: November 27, 2020) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Much is being made about Gospel According to PJ being PJ Morton’s return to gospel. But like the Reverend C. L. Franklin said of his GRAMMY-winning daughter Aretha, Bishop Paul S. Morton can say of his GRAMMY-winning son: he never really left the church. That’s because most of Gospel According to PJ is a re-introduction, in new arrangements, of sacred songs that Morton, a multi-genre musician, singer, songwriter and record producer, created for other ...

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Melvin Crispell III – I’ve Got a Testimony

Melvin Crispell III I’ve Got a Testimony RCA Inspiration (release date: September 4, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Having lost both his parents before his eighteenth birthday, Melvin Crispell III might be expected to render introspective songs about loss and recovery on his first full-length solo album. Au contraire. On I’ve Got a Testimony, the follow up to the BET Sunday Best champ’s EP, Prologue III, there is no trace of sadness in his voice, only joy bursting with hope for an even better tomorrow. Not that his parents, both talented recording artists, don’t inhabit the album. They are there ...

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“Joy” – Philip Mercer

“Joy” Philip Mercer Independent (release date: 2020) By Bob Marovich To a bubbly R&B vibe straight out of the 1980s, Philip Mercer’s “Joy” expresses gratitude to the Most High for His salvation and for subsequent blessings with the familiar refrain, “this joy, the world didn’t give it to me.” To hammer home the point, Mercer offers the comforting declaration of Psalm 30:5: “Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.” Exuding the emotion that serves as the song’s title, Mercer’s meaty and malleable tenor voice is what sells the song. Singer-songwriter Philip Mercer is on the ...

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Instruments of Musick – Determination (EP)

Instruments of Musick Determination (EP) Independent (release date: June 20, 2020) By Bob Marovich “Psalm 33:2,” a track from the Instruments of Musick’s Determination, is a rousing sacred steel-led and non-vocal interpretation of “Praise the Lord with harp: sing unto him with the psaltery and an instrument of ten strings.” While the track, evocative of a Campbell Brothers jam, evokes the musical excitement of a praise break, it also serves as a motto for the ensemble’s stringed-instrument music ministry. Blood brothers Garvin and Gary “Fatman” McKinney of Detroit comprise the gospel band Instruments of Musick. Although Determination is not their ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 11, 2020

“Trust and Believe”Mona MooreIndependent (release date: July 2, 2020)Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich Mona Moore’s affecting treatment of the dramatic “Trust and Believe” is what sells the single. From Houston, Texas, Moore reminds the listener that God is a “miracle worker,” so don’t fret: “God will do what he said He will do.” The lyric inspiration comes in part from Psalm 46:10 (“Be still and know that I am God”). Like a veteran vocalist, Moore begins softly, almost whispery, then moves incrementally into shouting evangelist mode as the mood of the song alters. “Trust and Believe” continues building to ...

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Isaac Cates & Ordained to Participate in First-ever Vox Virtual Online A Cappella Festival

From Classical Movements: Vox Virtual is a first-of-its-kind online a cappella festival, August 22-29. It will bring together musicians representing cultures and traditions from around the world for a week-long program of free streaming concerts. The very unique part of the festival is each concert will be livestreamed free across all participating ensembles’ Facebook pages through cross-posting. In other words, when an artist or presenter posts a live video, it mainly reaches their audience. However, by having multiple pages going live with the same performance, the audience size increases substantially. It is a new model rather than simply sharing someone ...

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Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir – Thank You

Elder Arlester Washington & The Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir Thank You Time Now Records (2020) By Bob Marovich On the morning of April 9, 2019, Elder Arlester Washington was involved in a two-car accident that claimed his life. The tragedy devastated Lexington, Kentucky’s Now Faith Worship Center, where Washington was pastor. It also stunned the gospel music community. In addition to being a church leader, Washington had had a career in professional gospel music as a member of the Gospel Crystals and the Chicago Gospel Cavaliers. He had traveled with the Caravans and Jessy Dixon, and in 1990 founded ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 27, 2020

“Jesus, Let Us Be One” Roscoe Robinson Savoy Records (original release date: March 1983, reissue 2020) By Bob Marovich “Problems all around us, everyone has an answer,” Roscoe Robinson rues. Seeking the true solution, the gospel and soul singing star not only reaches back for the Word, he also reaches back more than three decades into his own song catalog. On “Jesus, Let Us Be One,” originally released on his 1983 Savoy solo album He’s the One, Roscoe prays for unity in His name “and in your love.” Starting out slow and introspective, the song picks up steam courtesy of a ...

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