Contemporary Gospel

“Strength” – Brieaunna Ling

“Strength” Brieaunna Ling From the BPA Music Group EP Answering the Call (release date: October 27, 2017) By Bob Marovich Tucked lovingly in an EP of extroverted electrified worship music is a stripped-down melodic prayer ballad called “Strength.” Sounding as if she is at wit’s end, indie gospel artist Brieaunna Ling pours out her pain and exposes every vein of vulnerability on this emotionally raw piece.  Her husband, Corey Ling, accompanies on piano. After shouting her troubles over, Brieaunna realizes that better is coming. It’s the kind of song that brings people to their feet because everyone has experienced this ...

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“I Need You” – Jermane C. Milton

“I Need You” Jermane C. Milton Harmony House Ministries (release date: April 14, 2017) Available on Amazon By Bob Marovich It may be that Jermane C. Milton’s cover of Shirley Caesar’s “This Joy,” made over with slamming funk bass runs courtesy of James Coleman, is the artist’s single and what earned him a 2018 Rhythm of Gospel Award for Urban Contemporary Male Vocalist, but for my money, it’s his “I Need You” that deserves the attention. A simple, light, piano-led melodic praise ballad whose only fault is a more-than-five-minute length, “I Need You” starts undistinguished enough, but Milton and his ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: March 4, 2019

“It’s All About You” Rev. Stef & Jubilation (independent, 2019) https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/RevStefandJubilation By Bob Marovich The Reverend Dr. Stefanie Minatee, aka Rev. Stef, is back doing what she loves—directing Jubilation, the gospel choir that, among other achievements, backed Queen Latifah on the title track of the GRAMMY Award-winning various artists gospel compilation, Oh Happy Day (EMI, 2009). After recovering from an April 2015 stroke that severely impacted her mobility, Rev. Stef is now preparing the choir for a 20th anniversary performance in June at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center.  It was there that the ensemble formed initially to accompany Evangelist ...

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“A Carol for All Children” – His Love Singers

“A Carol for All Children”His Love SingersOpus One Studios (2018)www.opusonestudios.com By Bob Marovich Alan Salisbury and Whitney Parnell’s “A Carol for All Children” celebrates the religious differences that too often threaten to divide countries.  We are all God’s children, the song reminds, regardless of race or creed. Though the lyrics reference how cultures celebrate holidays differently, this simple, charming carol is not just for the holidays.  The four-track EP includes a gospel and choral version, directed and arranged by Charles Brown and rendered by the full-throated His Love Singers, an austere reading by the Harmony Interfaith Choir recorded live; and ...

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The Tommies Reunion (Live)

The Tommies Reunion Seven Legend Group / JMG Entertainment / Tyscot Records (release date: February 22, 2019) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich At their apex, Chicago’s Thompson Community Singers—known affectionately as the Tommies—were one of the most emulated gospel choirs in the country. Music ministers couldn’t wait for the next Tommies album to hit record stores so they could buy it and glean new gems to teach their own choirs. Having just surpassed the seventieth anniversary of their formation by the late Reverend Milton Brunson, the Tommies are back with their first new album in a decade. The Tommies Reunion choir ...

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“Safe” – Ruth La’Ontra

“Safe” Ruth La’Ontra Tyscot Records www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich Gospel songstress Ruth La’Ontra gushes over the protection available in God’s arms during “Safe,” a boldly arranged worship song that beats with the heart of a modern hymn. Ruth waits for the vamp to let loose with a string of melismatic runs and intense call-and-response with her BGVs. Penned by Anthony Brown (leader of Group TherAPy) and Justin L. Savage, “Safe” debuted on Ruth’s 2017 Tyscot album, I Got You (Live). The acorn doesn’t fall far from the tree. Ruth is the daughter of veteran radio announcer Pastor Arvetra Jones Jr. and the ...

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Donald Lawrence Presents the Tri-City Singers: Goshen

Donald Lawrence Presents the Tri-City Singers Goshen RCA Inspiration (release date: February 1, 2019) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Using Old and New Testament stories to reinforce the need for a spiritual exodus from modern-day anxieties, Goshen, the latest album by Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers, is the first big gospel release of 2019 and could well take its place among the best gospel albums of the year. Goshen, taken from references in Exodus of “God’s promised place” where one can find joy in the midst of troubled times, is a compendium of worship songs, declarations of personal empowerment, rages ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: January 28, 2019

“Deliver Me (This is My Exodus)” Donald Lawrence Presents the Tri-City Singers feat. Le’Andria Johnson From the forthcoming RCA Inspiration album Goshen (release date: February 1, 2019) www.rcainspiration.com By Bob Marovich Le’Andria Johnson has one of the most searing voices in gospel music today. But like any singer, or actor for that matter, the material (song, film) makes the difference. Le’Andria is at her best when presented with good gospel material. Like “Deliver Me (This is My Exodus),” her feature turn with Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers. From the troupe’s thematic album Goshen, this reflection on spiritual release from ...

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“I Wanna Know You” – Intimate Praise

“I Wanna Know You” Intimate Praise From the Downbeat Records CD I Wanna Know You (2018) https://store.cdbaby.com/Artist/IntimatePraise By Bob Marovich The California gospel duo Intimate Praise, comprised of Allyson Ross Moses and Dennis Flannigan, lives up to its moniker on “I Wanna Know You.” From their album of the same title, this love song to the Lord has that cozy California sound, complete with delicate taps of cymbals and sound effects of chirping birds straight out of Minnie Riperton’s “Loving You.” The soft, alluring melody and arrangement evoke smooth soul/R&B duos of the 1980s, though the lyrics make it plain that ...

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“Going” – Christina Bell

“Going” Christina Bell Malaco Music Group (2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich When I first heard the Shreveport, Louisiana, female gospel group Zie’l singing a Ward Singers classic a cappella at the 2005 Gospel Music Workshop of America, I knew then it would be a group to watch. Though Zie’l tended to favor the smooth-and-sassy style of Virtue on their Genesis and Pronounced ZY-EL albums, their finest moments came when they worked within gospel’s firm foundations, such as on “Purify Me,” “Surely God is Able,” and “Is My Living in Vain.” Nevertheless, they always sounded better live. One of the principal ...

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