Contemporary Gospel

Myron Butler – My Tribute

Myron Butler My Tribute Fair Trade / Columbia / Red Alliance Media (release date: June 26, 2020) By Bob Marovich Together with several of today’s top-flight gospel artists, singer-songwriter Myron Butler pays homage to one of his chief inspirations, Andrae’ Crouch, with a feature-filled album called My Tribute. All but one of the selections are Crouch originals, but with modern augmentations to make them relevant to today’s audience. And in all but one case, Butler duets or trades leads with the guest vocalists. That one cut, “All Things Well,” is a praise ballad and the album’s debut single. It’s a Butler ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: June 22, 2020

“On and On” Darius Paulk feat. Janae Slack-Smith From the AIR / Malaco CD Strong (release date: February 20, 2020) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich Although the uncomplicated worship ballad “On and On” has a decided pop flavor, the harmonica and pedal steel give it a contemporary country vibe. The single features fine singing from Darius Paulk and flights of lithe-to-muscular soprano from Janae Slack-Smith, all of it held together by the melodic background vocalists. Paulk is perhaps best known for penning “Nobody Greater,” the career-making single for VaShawn Mitchell. Listen closely, and you’ll hear that “On and On” has shades ...

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“Lift the Savior” – AJ Collier & the Band of Believers

“Lift the Savior” AJ Collier and the Band of Believers Believers Band Music Group https://www.ajcbob.com/ By Bob Marovich Here’s some Sunday morning old-school church music from AJ Collier and the Band of Believers of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. “Lift the Savior” raises its praise with hand clapping, full-throttle musicianship, open-throated choral chords, and dense harmonies. Though there is a main musical motif, all told, “Lift the Savior” is more a moment of joyous exuberance, created to move the spirit of the church, than a through-composed song. AJ Collier organized the Band of Believers in 2016. In addition to serving in multiple roles ...

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Dawn Thomas Wallace – Live in Luxembourg

Dawn Thomas Wallace Live in Luxembourg Zoe Records (release date: 2020) By Bob Marovich UK Christian singer Dawn Thomas Wallace deserves major props for pulling on classics from the contemporary gospel canon for Live in Luxembourg. Recorded before a polite but appreciative audience at Luxembourg’s Oasis Church of God (Pastor Pietro Colaci), Wallace’s release contains material from top-shelf songwriters such as Richard Smallwood, Andrae Crouch, Walter Hawkins, James Cleveland, Travis Greene, and William McDowell. It’s a refreshing change from the current trend of writing and recording sound-alike vertical praise anthems. At the same time, the lyrical content of vertical praise, ...

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“Follow” – Marshalee

“Follow” Marshalee Praise Nation (original release date: 2015, re-release date: 2020) By Bob Marovich Christian singer-songwriter Marshalee Ellis-Kehlhem co-wrote with Jeff Pardo this breezy anthem about walking into her destiny by following Jesus, even if it requires climbing high mountains. That’s the price of discipleship. A touch of her Jamaican accent adds crispness to her vocal delivery while the bouncy arrangement and instrumentation combine elements of modern pop and country. Although released in 2015, “Follow” is being re-introduced to radio to garner greater attention than it got five years ago. It doesn’t sound any the worse for wear. Born and ...

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“Everything Will Be Alright” – Geneatha Wright

“Everything Will Be Alright”Geneatha WrightGodfather Records (original release: 2013; re-release 2020) By Bob Marovich “Everything Will Be Alright” is a soulful gospel song of hope and encouragement, released originally in 2013, by a family that has known more than its share of tragedy. Pastor David Wright wrote this song for his wife, Geneatha “Gee” Wright, for her 2013 solo debut album, Just as I Am. The song’s genesis was family tragedy. In the space of two years, Gee lost her father, Elder Horace Daughtry Sr., and David lost both his parents, Pastor Timothy and First Lady Betty Wright, to automobile ...

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Kierra Sheard – Kierra

Kierra Sheard Kierra Karew Records & Entertainment / Provident Label Group / RCA Inspiration (release date: April 17, 2020) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich In a scene from the LIFETIME biopic The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark stands before top officials of the Church of God in Christ who question her participation in a “worldly” musical presentation. In response, Clark challenges their inflexibility and intolerance. Pushing the musical envelope is a family tradition, and Kierra Sheard, Dr. Clark’s granddaughter, is the latest in the Clark-Moss dynasty to challenge convention. But it has taken an emotional toll ...

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RIP: Gospel’s Arthur Freeman of Isaac Douglas Singers, New York Community Choir, Revelation

JGM friend Tim Dillinger-Curenton wrote this wonderful remembrance of Arthur Freeman, who transitioned to glory on May 7, 2020. I am saddened to share the passing of one of gospel music’s originals, Arthur Freeman. Arthur’s work in gospel began as a member of Bishop William Morris O’Neil’s Christian Tabernacle in Harlem. He joined Christian Tabernacle as a teenager and was a featured soloist in the choir, which would be directed by other young, budding talents including Alonzo Atkins (later of James Cleveland’s Southern California Community Choir) and Bennie Diggs. Freeman, Diggs, Wilbur Johnson and John Hason (all of Christian Tabernacle) ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 28, 2020

“Leap of Faith” YimikaSoul From the Yimikasoulfactory CD Leap of Faith (release date: March 20, 2020) By Bob Marovich Houston, Texas singer YimikaSoul opens “Leap of Faith” like a veteran gospel stomper, her voice big and expansive like an evangelist starting a prayer service. From there, she shares the spotlight with a cheerful choir on this handclapper, reportedly based on personal experience, about how faith can make great things happen. The verse packs ten pounds of lyrics in five pounds of space, but the song’s traditional-sounding chorus, its theatricality, and a vamp with key changes more than make up for ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 20, 2020

“We Are Family, We Are Friends” Darius Twyman & Destiny Character Music LLC (release date: February 21, 2020) By Bob Marovich Detroit singer, songwriter, and choir leader Darius Twyman teams up with his longstanding choir, Destiny, for a song with a dual purpose: to encourage global unity and to offer much-needed words of comfort and hope to the discouraged everywhere. Lush choir harmonies and Twyman’s impassioned vocals evoke the work of the Reverend Donald Vails, whose Voices of Deliverance was where a preteen Twyman cut his vocal teeth. The song is smooth, inspirational, and steeped in the Motor City’s polished ...

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