Contemporary Gospel

“I Win” – Last Call

“I Win” Last Call Joma Music Group (release date: September 20, 2022) www.lastcallworship.com By Robert M. Marovich “I Win” is the most recent single release from Last Call, the award-winning male gospel duo from the island of Bermuda. Backed by a thunderous vocal ensemble, Adrian and Tricray declare that the “blood-stained banner” of Jesus has paved the way, through faith, for victory over frustration, injustice, and sickness. Its heartwarming arrangement and use of the 50’s-era “ice cream” chord progression give it a vibe that is part country, part gospel, and part pop song. Definitely has the DNA of a hit. ...

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“Brought Me Out” – Kymon Smith & God Sons and Daughter

“Brought Me Out” Kymon Smith & God Sons and Daughter Independent (release date: August 6, 2021) By Robert M. Marovich “Brought Me Out” is a family affair. The Detroit-based independent gospel group Kymon Smith & God Sons and Daughter brings a contemporary flair and a touch of modern quartet to the time-honored declaration of God’s mercy and goodness as “how I got over.” The unadorned melody is marked by Mario Smith’s stinging guitar work, occasional pearls from Emory Smith’s keys, and a rhythm section that echoes the joyousness of the lyrics. Ticking lots of boxes musically and lyrically, it’s decent ...

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“Our Hearts Belong to You” – Shawn Everette

“Our Hearts Belong to You” Shawn Everette From the Soul Levite Music album Changing Me (release date: July 31, 2020) By Robert M. Marovich With prominent acoustic guitar, “Our Hearts Belong to You” is a worship song by Baltimore indie gospel artist Shawn Everette. It opens gently and builds in intensity to a meaty gospel vamp with a rhythm section that includes a warmly purring organ. A sweet melody energetically sung envelopes a message of love to Jesus for saving the world by sacrificing his life. Talented songwriter and well-constructed song.

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 30, 2022

“My Faith & My Fight” (unplugged) Tina Nelms Boson Independent (release date: February 4, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Of the orchestrated and unplugged versions of “My Faith & My Fight” by Tina Nelms Boson, my money is on the unplugged, piano-only version. It’s here that Ms. Boson shows herself as a triple threat—songwriter, singer, and pianist. The song’s message is that to make it through requires more than just a passive reliance on faith but also on one’s own determination, or grit. To deliver this declaration, Boson shifts from melodic singing to bluesy growling, especially during the vamp, in ...

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“Name On It” – Titus Showers

“Name On It” Titus Showers A&P Records (release date: April 22, 2022) www.AP-Records.net By Robert M. Marovich For “Name On It,” Titus Showers, member of The Showers family band and now a popular solo artist since 2019, takes a lyrical cue from Norman Hutchins’ 1999 hit for JDI Records, “God’s Got a Blessing.” Showers wraps his muscular baritone around this relaxed but insistent selection that decrees a blessing is coming “with my name on it.” Sweetly-singing background vocalists contrast Showers’ meaty delivery while the rhythm section thump out an optimistic beat. Soul refreshing. “Name On It” is one of the ...

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“You Win” – Jovan Whyte

“You Win” Jovan Whyte Minister J Music (release date: March 18, 2022) https://windermerefl.adventistchurch.org/ By Robert M. Marovich With Kevin Winebarger, Jovan Whyte co-wrote the melodic “You Win” during a particularly low point in the pandemic as a reminder that when all is said and done, the Lord will render you victorious over your problems. He needed the message himself and figured, rightly, so did everyone else. It’s a simple, memorable song with plenty of pop credentials, including a bridge that builds to a strong final chorus, which might have been made even more compelling with a key change. Whyte’s vocals ...

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JGM Pick of the Week:  August 1, 2022

“With Joy We Draw Water” The Bishop’s Choir feat. Kyle Sanders Enon Music Group (release date: April 15, 2022) www.enonmusic.com By Robert M. Marovich The Bishop’s Choir gives the original John Howard Caravan classic, “With Joy We Draw Water,” a full-throated rendering, complete with impassioned lead by Min. Kyle Sanders. From the Sim Wilson Jr. and John Howard Caravan album If You Need a Blessing (Savoy 1981), “With Joy We Draw Water” takes its text from Isaiah 12:3. With introductions from a chirpy church organ, the Bishop’s Choir layers its harmonies section-by-section as the members sing the title line like ...

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“Worship Him” – Donnell Russell

“Worship Him” Donnell Russell Independent (release date: May 30, 2022) www.donnellrussell.com By Robert M. Marovich “Worship Him” is a blast of extroverted praise by New Orleans’ own Elder Donnell Russell. If it sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the late Bruce Ballinger’s classic hymn given a hyper-rhythmic arrangement. While the background singers get bluesy on the vamp, Russell flexes his preacher’s voice to declare his praise by lining out the many names for Jesus. His use of a portion of the Lord’s Prayer in call-and-response with his singers is another time-honored gospel singing technique. Altogether, “Worship Him” packs a wallop. No ...

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“Lord of All” – Carolyn Wright

“Lord of All” Carolyn Wright Independent (release date: April 3, 2022) By Robert M. Marovich Ms. Carolyn Wright lit up the Rhythm of Gospel Awards in Jacksonville, Florida, last month with her lead vocals for one of the many talented church choirs that were in attendance. I wasn’t alone in my plaudits—many present at the event singled her out for the poised, polished, and passionate singing you hear on her single, “Lord of All.” Written and produced by Courtney Franklin, “Lord of All” has the musical majesty of a contemporized hymn. Just as importantly as the song’s message and noble ...

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Hood Memorial AME Zion Church Celebration Choir – I’m In His Plans

Hood Memorial AME Zion Church Celebration Choir I‘m In His Plans Bison Disc (release date: February 23, 2021) https://hoodmemorialamez.com/ By Robert M. Marovich Time was, you would have looked long and hard in the AME Zion church writ large and found neither gospel music nor gospel singers anywhere within the four walls. Hymns, yes. Anthems, yes. Spirituals, check. Gospel songs, not so much. Then you hear “It’s About Time to Praise Him” by the joyously full-throated Celebration Choir from the Hood Memorial AME Zion Church in Fayetteville, North Carolina, and you realize those days are passed and gone. Complete with ...

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