Contemporary Gospel

“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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Zion’s Joy! – What Would Heaven Look Like

Zion’s Joy! What Would Heaven Look Like Habakkuk Music (release date: March 8, 2019) www.zionsjoy.com By Bob Marovich Hailing from Indianapolis, Indiana, the multicultural small choir called Zion’s Joy! made national news in mid-2018 when the video for their single, “What Would Heaven Look Like,” was erroneously blocked by Facebook. From the “no good deed goes unpunished” department: it was only after the group paid to boost their Facebook post of the video that it was flagged by the social media giant as “political content” and subsequently blocked. The company ultimately apologized and restored the video on its platform, noting ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 15, 2019

“You Don’t Know” Zacardi Cortez Black Smoke Music Worldwide (2019) By Bob Marovich “You don’t know my story,” is a frequently uttered church aphorism. “I don’t look like what I’ve been through” is another. On the appropriately-titled “You Don’t Know,” the popular gospel singer Zacardi Cortez (“Oh, How I Love You,” “1 On 1”) offers his own testimony. His big, rough-as-sandpaper shouting tenor, introduced to a national gospel audience on James Fortune & FIYA’s 2007 album The Transformation, is on full display on this deceptively powerful song, as much a recitative of gratitude as a cathartic expression of trials endured ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 8, 2019

“All That I Have (One God)” Lamont Sanders DarkChild Gospel / Bear Tag Entertainment By Bob Marovich In his muscular yet flexible baritone, Lamont Sanders delivers this pop-influenced rhythm ballad about giving back to God, who has given so much to us, especially his only begotten son. The background vocalists share the spotlight on this solid song and message for the Lenten season.  Lots to like here. The Willingboro, New Jersey, native earned a scholarship to study musical theater at the University of the Arts (UArts) in Philadelphia and can play seven instruments. The way he works this song demonstrates ...

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Powerhouse Fellowship Soul Choir featuring Shawn Cotterell – It’s Not Over LIVE

Powerhouse Fellowship Soul Choir featuring Shawn Cotterell It’s Not Over LIVE Impact Gospel (release date: September 21, 2018) www.powerhousefellowship.net By Bob Marovich Canada has been, and continues to be, home to some very solid gospel choirs. The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir, the Quebec Celebration Gospel Choir, and Sharon Riley & Faith Chorale are a few that come to mind. Here’s another: from the greater Toronto area comes the Powerhouse Fellowship Soul Choir. It was formed, like many mass choirs, for a specific program or purpose, but in 1988, two years after its birth, it became an official entity under its ...

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“Strength” – Brieaunna Ling

“Strength” Brieaunna Ling From the BPA Music Group EP Answering the Call (release date: October 27, 2017) By Bob Marovich Tucked lovingly in an EP of extroverted electrified worship music is a stripped-down melodic prayer ballad called “Strength.” Sounding as if she is at wit’s end, indie gospel artist Brieaunna Ling pours out her pain and exposes every vein of vulnerability on this emotionally raw piece.  Her husband, Corey Ling, accompanies on piano. After shouting her troubles over, Brieaunna realizes that better is coming. It’s the kind of song that brings people to their feet because everyone has experienced this ...

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“I Need You” – Jermane C. Milton

“I Need You” Jermane C. Milton Harmony House Ministries (release date: April 14, 2017) Available on Amazon By Bob Marovich It may be that Jermane C. Milton’s cover of Shirley Caesar’s “This Joy,” made over with slamming funk bass runs courtesy of James Coleman, is the artist’s single and what earned him a 2018 Rhythm of Gospel Award for Urban Contemporary Male Vocalist, but for my money, it’s his “I Need You” that deserves the attention. A simple, light, piano-led melodic praise ballad whose only fault is a more-than-five-minute length, “I Need You” starts undistinguished enough, but Milton and his ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 4, 2019

“It’s All About You” Rev. Stef & Jubilation (independent, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/RevStefandJubilation By Bob Marovich The Reverend Dr. Stefanie Minatee, aka Rev. Stef, is back doing what she loves—directing Jubilation, the gospel choir that, among other achievements, backed Queen Latifah on the title track of the GRAMMY Award-winning various artists gospel compilation, Oh Happy Day (EMI, 2009). After recovering from an April 2015 stroke that severely impacted her mobility, Rev. Stef is now preparing the choir for a 20th anniversary performance in June at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  It was there that the ensemble formed initially to accompany Evangelist ...

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