Contemporary Gospel

Brenda Jefferson – Invocation

Brenda Jefferson Invocation Scripture Music Group (release date: April 7, 2017) Available on Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Brenda Jefferson is a songwriter who can sing. On her 2007 album, A Time of Refreshing, Jefferson held her own on duets with such leading lights as Lisa Page Brooks and Joe Ligon. On Invocation, however, Jefferson prefers to focus on writing the songs and offering spoken word introductions and inspirational interludes. She leaves the singing of her songs to such an impressive passel of featured artists that the album could easily have been titled Brenda Jefferson and Friends. The album’s high point comes ...

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“The Pain is Going to End” – Bonita Burney Simmons

“The Pain is Going to End” Bonita Burney Simmons Bursimslow (release date: January 1, 2018) www.bonitaburneysimmons.com By Bob Marovich On her newest single, “The Pain is Going to End,” Bonita Burney Simmons reminds the listener that joy cometh in the morning, no matter how dark everything may look and feel. The song moves from general encouragement to personal testimony when she sings, “it’s just a test to what I believe – it will get better,” and later drops that new church axiom, “I don’t look like what I’ve been through.” The five-and-a-half minute track cries out for a radio edit to ...

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For Patrick Lundy, It’s About the “Whole Gamut of Sacred Music”

By Bob Marovich Patrick Lundy and the Ministers of Music mix traditional and classically-infused contemporary gospel into their repertory. While their current single, the unapologetically traditional “Enter His Gates,” continues to impact radio, the group has also recorded an entire album of spirituals and hymns.  This reflects Patrick Lundy’s admiration for, and experience with, the full palette of sacred music. Lundy visited with the Journal of Gospel Music while in Chicago for the annual Chorus America conference. It was almost a foregone conclusion that Patrick Lundy would go into music as a profession. First Missionary Baptist, the church he attended as a child, was blessed with ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 2, 2018

“Chainbreaker” Angela “Missy” Billups E’Mazin Entertainment (release date: May 15, 2018) Available digitally By Bob Marovich New York-based singer Angela “Missy” Billups is known for both traditional church wreckers and rhythmic praise ballads. Her latest single, “Chainbreaker,” is right in the middle in terms of tempo, while the lyrics are consistent with the message she has sung at a variety of speeds: that God can release us from the physical and emotional chains that bind us. But you gotta believe. “Chainbreaker,” which Billups sang to an appreciative audience at the Rhythm of Gospel Awards ceremony last month, was produced by ...

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Ananais Montague – Remember Me: Songs from the Cross, Vol. 1

Ananais Montague Remember Me: Songs from the Cross Vol. 1 Ananais Montague Music www.amusac.com By Bob Marovich Remember Me: Songs from the Cross, Volume 1, from the Chicago born and raised Ananais “Markey” Montague, is a two-disc, seventeen song project that appears to have two main purposes: to follow the narrative from Jesus’ entrance to Jerusalem (Palm Sunday) to his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension; and to introduce the songs, either wholly composed or co-written by Montague, to other music ministers. What Montague provides is a collection of contemporary church choir songs–some simple, others more challenging–that combine the classical underpinning of Richard Smallwood with ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 18, 2018

“Are You Ready” Jason Champion My Block Records (release date: October 27, 2017) By Bob Marovich To a mid-tempo boogie-woogie rhythm, gospel singer Jason Champion asks the ultimate salvation question: are you ready for Jesus when He comes? He then lets loose with a couple of Sam Cooke yodels and declares he’s ready – in fact, he already has his bags packed. Now that’s ready. The song’s loose and engaging doo-wop drive is given Technicolor treatment in Derek Banks’ video, which depicts Champion dressed in retro clothes, driving a retro car, and playing a retro upright piano at an old farmhouse in ...

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Bruce Parham – Your Presence

Bruce Parham Your Presence We Here Now Music Group (release date: June 15, 2018) By Bob Marovich An early impetus for Bruce Parham’s solo career came from his grandmother, who instructed her grandson in no uncertain terms to “Open up your mouth and sing!” Sing he did, before church congregations and annual gatherings at the Mt. Sinai Holy Churches of America convention. Bishop Bruce V. Parham Sr., PhD. parlayed his grandmother’s admonition into an integral part of his ministry. Your Presence, available this month, is the latest example of his beefy tenor and love for contemporary and traditional songs and ...

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Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir – I Am Reminded

Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir I Am Reminded Brooklyn Tabernacle Music (release date: April 6, 2018) www.brooklyntabernacle.org By Bob Marovich Recorded live at Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York, I Am Reminded is the 30th album by the multicultural and multiple Grammy Award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. It features the choir’s time-honored majestic harmonies that, propelled by a symphonic orchestra, wash over the listener like warm ocean waves crashing on a beach. As with all Brooklyn Tabernacle albums, the overall vibe of I Am Reminded is one of happiness and contentment, perpetually positive and uplifting. Smiling voices render melodic songs of thanksgiving to the Lord for blessings ...

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Jason Nelson – The Answer

Jason Nelson The Answer RCA Inspiration (release date: May 18, 2018) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich What makes Jason Nelson’s The Answer the finest of his five solo albums to date is the quality of the songs. Several of the melodic and biblically-based worship ballads on this live project are not only infectious, but they have a timeless quality. Outstanding songs on The Answer include the current single, “Forever,” as well as the quiescent “In the Room,” which demonstrates that an artist can get a message across—in this instance, that everything one needs can be sought through prayer—without thunder and fury. “Help Me,” which features ...

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“Can’t Wait to See Mama” – Prez Blackmon

“Can’t Wait to See Mama” Prez Blackmon Pearl’s Son Music (originally released in 2017) By Bob Marovich Stellar Award-nominee Prez Blackmon may be the biggest fan of holidays. His prior single releases include songs about Christmas, his birthday, and Mother’s Day. The latter, a 2010 JDI Records selection called “Happy Mother’s Day,” finds Blackmon sharing vocals with songstress Renee Spearman. Blackmon’s new release, “Can’t Wait to See Mama,” is another Mother’s Day ballad, this time an a cappella ode to his mother and all she did for him. To a familiar hymn melody, Blackmon improvises as a backing choir of voices supports ...

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