Contemporary Gospel

“Love” – Donnell Russell & Free Worship

“Love” Donnell Russell & Free Worship feat. Jai Reed, Tonya Boyd Cannon, Cory Ricks & Caren Green The Rite Note Ent. (release date: June 5, 2020) www.donnellrussell.com By Bob Marovich Donnell Russell & Free Worship’s “Love” is a crossover single in lyric and melody. To a quiet storm R&B arrangement, the singers remind listeners that “when all hope is gone,” where there is “injustice and hatred,” love is the answer. The inevitable rap interlude portrays life without love. Short but smooth and brimming with talented featured soloists, “Love” is a song written with today’s problems in mind. It offers the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 20, 2020

“Waiting On You” Dominique Johnson feat. Ernest J. Lee David’s Dance Music (release date: June 16, 2020) By Bob Marovich Chicago’s Dominique Johnson is a singer, songwriter, and musician whose online videos have garnered more than four million views. Dominique’s debut single, “Waiting On You,” is her affirmation that brokenness is over—“so many bad decisions that people thought I was blind”—and that she is no longer moving on her own time but in God’s time. She takes her cue from Isaiah 40:31: “They that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; ...

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Nashville Life Music – Here for Jesus

Nashville Life Music Here for Jesus Integrity Music (release date: July 17, 2020) www.nashvillelifemusic.com By Bob Marovich Nashville Life Music follows up last year’s Taylor House Sessions EP with even more delightful selections on its debut full-length album, Here for Jesus. Nashville Life Music is a young multicultural choir/group out of Nashville Life Church, a congregation led by husband-and-wife team Alvin Love and multi award-winning gospel singer CeCe Winans Love. In its diversity and musical architecture, the troupe reflects the church’s mission. It offers hope that amity is not only preferable and possible, but is actually happening. This polished group ...

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“God Made It Beautiful” – Jason Clayborn & the Atmosphere Changers

“God Made It Beautiful” Jason Clayborn & the Atmosphere Changers Feat. Daria Raymore Tyscot Records (release date: June 26, 2020) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Dense harmonies and heavy production amp up the drama of “God Made It Beautiful,” but the true power of the song comes from the lead vocalists Jason Clayborn and Daria Raymore, as well as Clayborn’s backing choir, the Atmosphere Changers. Employing the problem-resolution technique in the lyrics, Clayborn expresses how God can turn ashes “into something beautiful.” Daria Raymore joins on the second verse, floating in and around the melody, at turns crooning and shouting the ...

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“Cast Your Cares” – James Cutts

“Cast Your Cares” James Cutts (release date: July 10, 2020) By Bob Marovich Pastor James Cutts knows whereof he sings. Both he and his wife are on the road to recovery from COVID-19. This experience made Cutts’ new single, the bright and buoyant “Cast Your Cares,” all the more relevant. When you are struggling for breath, all you can do is turn it over to the Lord, the song goes, and “it will work out for your good.” Drawing his text from 1 Peter 5:7 (“Casting all your cares upon him; for he careth for you”), Cutts sings: “Don’t you ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: July 7, 2020

“Heal the Brokenness” Mietta Stancil Farrar & Tehillah From the CD The Greatness of God (original release date: 2013) By Bob Marovich Many gospel songs feel as if they were written about current times. Although Mietta Stancil Farrar & Tehillah of  Paterson, New Jersey, initially released “Heal the Brokenness” seven years ago, it falls in this category. This plea for the Lord to do what nobody else can do is made all the more urgent when Mietta and Tehillah increase the passion in their pleading by incrementally boosting the volume of their voices. Several artists have been re-purposing songs from ...

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“God is Good” – Ethan Kent

“God is Good” Ethan Kent Feat. Ryan Brockington, Arie & Eme & Tamerick Brazzell Tonic Blueprint LLC (release date: June 12, 2020) http://ethankentonline.com/ By Bob Marovich During times like these, Ethan Kent’s declaration that “Life ain’t always fair but God is good” is critical to keep close to the heart. This pop-infused song of encouragement receives able assistance from Dallas-based artists Ryan Brockington, Arie & Eme, and Tamerick Brazzell. Their voices swirl around Kent like a disembodied choir. While Kent is singing his own personal troubles over, the song is dedicated to everyone struggling with COVID-19, racial injustice, financial issues, ...

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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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