Contemporary Gospel

“I’ve Got Joy” – Reggie Campbell feat. Celia King Murray

“I’ve Got Joy” Reggie Campbell feat. Celia King Murray Fresh Fire Records and Publishing (release date: January 15, 2014) www.reggiecampbell.com By Bob Marovich From Gospel Image Award-winning singer Reggie Campbell’s CD of the same title, “I’ve Got Joy” is an appropriately up-tempo celebration of a fullness of heart. Taking his cue from James 1:2, Campbell sings the glory down in a full but flexible baritone. The quite fantastic Celia King Murray joins him midway through the song to echo the “pure joy” one feels in getting from God “a brand new start.” Later, the background vocalists interpolate the cascading “joy” section from Ricky Dillard ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: November 13, 2018

“He Worked It Out” The Tommies Reunion Tyscot Records (release date: October 26, 2018) www.tommiesreunion.com By Bob Marovich Darius Brooks, Percy Bady, and a hand-picked group of key members of the Thompson Community Singers from its fifteen-year reign as one of the most influential gospel choirs in America (1982-1997) come together for “He Worked It Out.” Short, simple, and to the point, “He Worked It Out” is the “it’s already done” message bathed in characteristically animated Tommies harmonies, a muscular brass section led by Lloyd Barry, and a rhythmic swagger to catch the attention of those who weren’t even born ...

Read More »

“Thirst 4 U” – Richard Davis

“Thirst 4 U” Richard Davis R2D Music / 9585 Records (release date: April 28, 2017) www.r2dmusic.com By Bob Marovich Water has been, and continues to be, a popular metaphor in spirituals and gospel music. From the Jordan River to the baptismal pool to a manifestation in rain, water represents rebirth and renewal. So it is with Richard Davis’s “Thirst 4 U,” where rain showers down an overflow of blessings. The song is enhanced by an energetic arrangement punctuated by flourishes of brass and smooth jazz overtones. The radio edit leaves out a good portion of the intro section, though for my money, I’d add ...

Read More »

Fred Williams – Do a New Thing

Fred Williams Do a New Thing (independent; release date: March 17, 2017) https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/fredwilliams32 By Bob Marovich Living the holy life appears to be the overriding theme of Fred Williams’ independently-produced Do a New Thing. On the title track, the Aiken, South Carolina, singer-songwriter and music minister references Isaiah 43:18-21 in showing gratitude for God’s plentiful blessings, as well as reminding us of our responsibility to do the right thing: pay the blessings forward. During “On this Journey,” he asks God to show him the way to holiness, a state of existence he examines in detail earlier in the CD on “A Holy Life.” Other songs, such ...

Read More »

“It Is Possible” – Jeanetta Williams

“It Is Possible” Jeanetta Williams (independent release 2014) For information: mdwil48@gmail.com By Bob Marovich If you are a gospel choir enthusiast, you know Jeanetta “Songbird” Williams from her solo turns as a member of the Thompson Community Singers. A few years ago, Williams gathered together friends and family to be her background singers on “It Is Possible,” a recording of her own composition. The singer offers a raw and genuine treatment to this simple, inspirational contemporary gospel song with references to Philippians 4:13. The melodic hook in the title verse hearkens back to the Hawkins style. A radio edit comprised of the best parts ...

Read More »

Shanrae Cheree Price – Long Time Coming

Shanrae Cheree Price Long Time Coming DuRee Music Ministries, Inc. (release date: January 18, 2018) By Bob Marovich Given that Long Time Coming opens with Shanrae Cheree Price delivering the Reverend Paul Jones’ classic “I Won’t Complain” to a warbling B3 like a seasoned church singer, it’s not surprising that the listener would expect more of the same. But then the song shifts into a contemporary gear and you realize that Price has old school and new school vocal personalities. Also not surprising: Shanrae’s sister is none other than Kelly Price, the Grammy-nominated and Soul Train Award-winning R&B singer whose fourth album ...

Read More »

“Won’t He Do It” – The Beard Sisters

“Won’t He Do It” The Beard Sisters DBJ Entertainment (release date: November 15, 2016) www.thebeardsisters.com By Bob Marovich The Beard Sisters of Memphis (Angela, Latonya, and April) are a harmony trio. They sound inspired by Chicago’s Brown Sisters, or a younger version of the Clark Sisters, because of their sassy vocals, multifaceted rhythms, complex vocal blend, and sunny songs of praise and worship. On their soulfully retro-sounding single, “Won’t He Do It,” the trio celebrates God’s willingness to do everything for His people. The song’s hook is the reiterative freefall from a frenetic chorus of “Won’t He Do It” into a breezy jazz ...

Read More »

JGM Pick of the Week: October 8, 2018

“God Is Doing It” Ernest Billups & Tribe of Levi feat. C. Ashley Brown-Lawrence E’Mazin Entertainment (release date: October 5, 2018) Available on Amazon.com By Bob Marovich “God Is Doing It” is Ernest Billups & the Tribe of Levi’s finest single to date. This slow burner with a dramatic melody features a passionate vocal assist from C. Ashley Brown-Lawrence (“I’ve Got the Victory”), who gets downright evangelistic by the vamp as she duets with Billups, who also serves as the songwriter and producer. Like some of the best songs in any genre, “God Is Doing It” was composed during a period ...

Read More »

Alfonzo Udell & Chosen Chorale: It’s Not Over

Alfonzo Udell & Chosen Chorale It’s Not Over Independent (release date: July 6, 2018) Available on Amazon.com By Bob Marovich What could have been a routine-sounding project by a small gospel ensemble, It’s Not Over by Bishop Alfonzo Udell & Chosen Chorale has two things in particular going for it: the quality of its songs and outstanding lead vocalists. Brooklyn-born but now based in Columbia, South Carolina, where he pastors High Times Fellowship, Udell wrote all ten of the selections on the album. The songs reference classic contemporary gospel in both lyric and feel. The mantra “keep the faith” recurs on the album, ...

Read More »

Shunice Hill-Sullivan – He Won’t Leave Me Alone (EP)

Shunice Hill-Sullivan He Won’t Leave Me Alone (EP) Independent (release date: September 1, 2015) www.ShuniceHillSullivan.com By Bob Marovich On her EP He Won’t Leave Me Alone, Christian singer Shunice Hill-Sullivan eschews gospel music histrionics for understated lyrics and arrangements. A gentle electric piano guides a small quiet storm combo through the four-cut project, which features prayer closet conversations with God. For example, on “Breakthrough,” Shunice speaks to God from a place of unspecific personal trials. She seeks forgiveness and a return to discipleship, knowing that a breakthrough is possible only after she is back in God’s good graces. “Draw Me ...

Read More »