Contemporary Gospel

“Show Me” – Ms. Ruby

“Show Me” Ms. Ruby ARTX Records (release date: October 28, 2019) By Bob Marovich Written and sung out of heartbreak over the loss of her only son, “Show Me” gives Ruby Settles, aka Ms. Ruby, a chance to shout her troubles over. It’s a sung prayer that moves from gently supplicant (but with a touch of suppressed anger) to passionate shouting as Ms. Ruby seeks strength in the midst of her darkest hour. By the end, after she hears “His voice” giving her the direction she seeks, you get the sense that she is on her way to better days. ...

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“Standing at the Gates” – Erica Reed

“Standing at the Gates”Erica ReedErica Reed (release date: July 12, 2019)www.ericareedmusic.com By Bob Marovich Emoting like a soulful 1960s torch  singer, soprano Erica Reed beseeches the Lord in “Standing at the Gates” to let her enter the gates of glory. She pleads her case, incorporating church aphorisms along the way. She’s persevered through trials and tribulations, she’s done what she was supposed to do, she’s taught, she’s saved souls, and now she’s knocking on heaven’s door. The minimal accompaniment includes introspective riffs on electric guitar, a warmly purring organ, and cooing background vocalists who stick it out even after the ...

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Gloria Gaynor Sings Her Testimony

By Bob Marovich From time to time, such as on major holidays or when the young people’s choir was singing, young Gloria Fowles and her family accompanied their grandmother to Abyssinian Baptist Church in Newark, New Jersey. At Abyssinian, they would listen to sermons from its pastor, the Reverend Raphus P. Means, and gospel music from such leading lights as Professor Alex Bradford, the Gospel Clefs’ Leon Lumpkins, and young gospel singer Kenneth Glover. Gloria also enjoyed the music of another Newark native, Sarah Vaughan. In the 1970s, Gloria Fowles, better known as Gloria Gaynor, became an internationally-successful R&B and ...

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Gloria Gaynor – Testimony

Gloria Gaynor Testimony Gaither Music Group (release date: June 7, 2019) www.gloriagaynor.com By Bob Marovich The release of Gloria Gaynor’s gospel album Testimony may have taken some by surprise, but if you know something about her life story, it makes sense. In fact, Gaynor’s signature song, “I Will Survive,” followed an almost career-ending accident that added injury to insult, given her acute financial challenges. And in many ways, the life-affirming message of “I Will Survive” helped men and women with the AIDS virus discover hope and celebrate life as they struggled with the debilitating disease. While not every pop star’s ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: December 10, 2019

“You Deserve” Angela Moss Poole 141st Lane Music (release date: May 24, 2019) www.AngelaMossPoole.com By Bob Marovich Angela Moss Poole gives her own composition, “You Deserve,” a deliciously light touch. The song moves from gentle to overflowing and back again as Angela realizes that trying to describe God ultimately leads to simply praising the indescribable. She brings to this worship song her talent and experience writing for television, film, and in other music genres. It shows in the song’s CCM delicacy, in its gospel guts, and in its pop music construction. Dr. Angela Moss Poole is a graduate of Florida ...

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Vetrea Slack Ruffin – Rain Down on Me

Vetrea Slack Ruffin Rain Down on Me Heavenly Spirit Music (release date: March 30, 2019) www.VetreaSlackRuffin.com By Bob Marovich Some people celebrate turning sixty years old by throwing a party. Others go on vacation, or buy themselves something special. Evangelist Vetrea Slack Ruffin celebrated her 60th year of life by releasing an EP. Rain Down on Me is about twenty minutes of singing by the award-winning gospel singer-songwriter from Alabama and an eight-minute lesson from the pulpit, courtesy of her pastor-husband, Dr. Paul Ruffin. The two opening song selections are modern and boisterous. “Raise Up Judah” is a conventional call-and-response ...

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“Praying and Believing” – Erica Campbell

“Praying and Believing” Erica Campbell My Block Records (release date: August 25, 2019) By Bob Marovich On this quintessential “coming to Jesus” song, Mary Mary’s Erica Campbell recognizes that the problems and complications she’s experiencing (first verse) and society is facing (second verse) are ours to accept but not to fix. Rather than blaming God for all the troubles, Erica prays to God for healing and strength—for herself and everyone, including “the mother praying for her child to come home.” The arrangement, featuring dramatic percussion and an imploring choir, gives Erica plenty of room to improvise. By the end, she ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 21, 2019

“All In His Plan” PJ Morton feat. Le’Andria Johnson and Mary Mary Morton Inspiration/Tyscot (release date: September 20, 2019) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich “All In His Plan” addresses the issue we all grapple with: why do bad or hurtful things happen to us when God has the power to wipe it all away? The song’s conclusion: it’s “all in His plan.” There is a reason for everything—we just can’t see it yet. As maddening as it feels sometimes, we have to put our trust in God “because He already worked it out, in the end.” PJ Morton gives the ballad ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 14, 2019

“He Loves Me” Yael Hilton Light Records / eOne Music (release date: August 30, 2019) By Bob Marovich Light Records was very fortunate to sign Yael Hilton, one of the most talented female vocalists to emerge from today’s galaxy of independent gospel artists. Her newest single, “God Can,” released in September, is a singing tour de force, but it’s “He Loves Me” that has the greatest radio potential. To a brassy and infectious Motown swagger, Hilton dominates the vocal line like a seasoned soloist. She weaves blue notes and Le’Andria-like raves on this feel-good song that sounds at first blush ...

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Beverly Heath – Jesus Boulevard

Beverly Heath Jesus Boulevard BaCE Music (release date: July 8, 2018) www.beverlyheath.com By Bob Marovich The title track of singer-songwriter Beverly Heath’s CD, Jesus Boulevard, sounds like a road the Dixie Hummingbirds could take their “Christian’s Automobile” for a spin. There are blessings awaiting the believer on “Jesus Boulevard,” the Atlanta-based Heath sings. And along the way, one can make passage on “Righteous Way” and “Miracle Road.” All these roads lead to peace of mind. No pun intended, but Heath’s style is what you could call middle-of-the-road (MOR) gospel. It is neither sanctified nor atmospheric. MOR is, in fact, where ...

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