Contemporary Gospel

JGM Pick of the Week: April 25, 2017

“He’s the One” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Pastor Walter E. Ellis From the album Kainos (The Acoustic Documentary) Puretonez Production/eOne Distribution (release date: September 2016) www.monicalisastevenson.com By Bob Marovich Those who appreciate the fiery traditional singing of Monica Lisa Stevenson, the proverbial fifth Caravan, will be slightly taken aback by her softer, gentler, and overall acoustic approach to “He’s the One.” I say slightly taken aback because “Try Jesus (He’s the One)” is not a new song: MLS’s father and uncles, who had formed a quartet, sang it on their programs. It’s a traditional song.  Only the smooth arrangement and ...

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“Forevermore” – Sue Neil

“Forevermore” Sue Neil Sure Foundation Music (2017) By Bob Marovich A lovely acoustic piano intro makes way for a gentle prayer of praise from Pastor Sue Neil. In soft tones, she marvels at the wonders of God and all he has created. If “Forevermore” sounds sun-kissed, that’s because Neil wrote it upon waking early one morning and feeling the need to put in song all the emotions she felt about the Lord. Towards the conclusion, as Neil moves to the most passionate portion of the song and listeners anticipate a heartbeat-skipping explosion of sound, the natural resolution of her innermost feelings, her voice drops somewhat from ...

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Vancouver’s Warren Dean Flandez: the “Christian Bruno Mars”

By Bob Marovich No doubt about it, Canada has a thriving gospel music community. Some artists, such as Londa Larmond, the Quebec Celebration Gospel Choir, and the Sojourners quartet, have somewhat broken through into the U.S. gospel music market. I say somewhat, because in comparison to the long litany of Canadian pop artists who conquered the U.S. market and went on to become global sensations, gospel singers from Canada have yet to make their mark outside of their country. Warren Dean Flandez wants to change that. Although he has been active in music for many years, the Vancouver-based artist released ...

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“The Blood” – Charles Butler & Trinity

“The Blood” Charles Butler & Trinity From the Anointed Sounds Records album Make It (release date of single: February 2017) Charles Butler & Trinity heightens the tension dramatically and in short order on “The Blood,” a Mandel Copeland composition. Taking for its theme the redemptive power of Jesus’s death on the cross—a salient subject during this time in the liturgical year—“The Blood” begins with soft harmonies and contemporary chords but concludes with full-on preacher’s shouts and Trinity as a spiritually unshackled congregation. Mandel’s brother Josh Copeland leads, employing the same verve he had when he sang this song with the Copeland ...

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“You Are” – Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir

“You Are” Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir From the forthcoming album Sure. Focused. Centered. (release date: summer 2017) www.nextgenchoir.com By Bob Marovich Plaudits to the Most High are lifted with nimble vocalizing, a brisk tempo, and pleasantly startling punctuations of high notes by the NextGeneration Choir of the Shalom Church (City of Peace) of Florissant, Missouri. On the song’s hook, the music fades as the choir runs rapidly through a litany of names for God.  It was such an attention grabber, they could have kept on going. NextGeneration Choir, Dr. F. James Clark’s young adult chorus, hopes to ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 27, 2017

“Joy!” Warren Dean Flandez, feat. Top Line Vocal Collective From the CD Eternally Grateful www.wdfworld.com On his new project, Eternally Grateful, Vancouver gospel sensation Warren Dean Flandez reprises the five-star material from his EP What the World Needs Now, adding additional tracks to round the package out. “Joy!,” featuring the talented 50-member choir known as Top Line Vocal Collective, is one of the songs brought forward from the EP. This paean to God’s goodness blends old and new seamlessly, capturing the celebratory mood found in both traditional and contemporary gospel music. Reviewing What the World Needs Now last March, I had ...

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“Victorious” – Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi feat. Bishop Eric McDaniel

“Victorious” Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi feat. Bishop Eric McDaniel E’mazin Entertainment (released August 2016) www.emazinentertainment.com “Victorious” is a spirited litany of positive affirmations from Ernest Billups and his sprightly vocal group Tribe of Levi. It is also Billups’s testimony of how God has granted him victory over personal challenges–that no matter how bad things are, God will help you overcome them. Using the “no weapon formed against you shall prosper” Scripture for support, Billups & Tribe of Levi tell the enemy what they really think of him. Then Bishop Eric McDaniel, pastor of The Lord’s Church in the Bronx and North ...

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Eagle Rock Gospel Singers Preview New Song and Video

The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers premiere their video of “Lay Down Low,” a new song recorded in a historic nineteenth-century Episcopal church in Lincoln Heights, Los Angeles. The song is from the group’s forthcoming album, No Glory. “‘Lay Down Low’ started with a simple little melody for the verses. I wrote what I thought could be a concise telling of the story of Jesus using that melody as a springboard. I wanted something bittersweet for the chorus that had some teeth and gave the story an arc. I used a melody that could be percussively barked and had no home ...

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Stay Connected – The Choirs of Trinity United Church of Christ

The Choirs of Trinity United Church of Christ Stay Connected Unashamed Media Group (release date: February 28, 2017) Available on Amazon.com, itunes, other digital outlets. The hard copy with the 36 page color booklet will be available at the church by March 3, 2017, through its bookstore and website. By Bob Marovich Disc One of Stay Connected, the forthcoming two-disc project from Chicago’s Trinity United Church of Christ music and arts ministries, is alone sufficient to declare the project excellent. That it contains two discs makes it spectacular. It has been fifteen years since the South Side church has released ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: February 20, 2017

“Outpour” Lynn McCree featuring Judah 1st www.igaraa.com/lynn-mccree.html Songs that open with hushed piano and vocal never fail to get my attention. Lynn McCree’s “Outpour” got my attention. It’s a lovely ballad, lovingly sung, a prayer closet pleading to the Lord for a pouring out of blessings. “Pour out your joy / I don’t want to cry no more,” McCree and her Judah 1st singers express. The song is as passionate and delicate as the blessings they seek, and it feels as if it could even extend beyond its 3:42 length. The production expertly focuses on the singing, with the piano taking a secondary but ...

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