Contemporary Gospel

Bonita Burney Simmons – This Time

Bonita Burney Simmons This Time Bursimslow Music (release date: August 6, 2016) www.bonitaburneysimmons.com By Bob Marovich Bonita Burney Simmons has been compared to Tramaine Hawkins, but I hear more than a touch of Gladys Knight in her voice on her most recent album, This Time. Especially on the opening track, the mid-tempo “God’s People Arise.” Simmons possesses a creamy voice that only moves into evangelist territory when the spirit hits her, as on “I Must Tell Jesus.” This track finds her singing at her most inspired as she shares how she almost gave up. When she became too tired to fight, ...

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Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir – Thank You

Elder Arlester Washington & the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir Thank You (EP) Pure Harvest Entertainment, 2014 859-233-4876 By Bob Marovich For decades, the mass choir movement has gathered together men and women of all ages and from a variety of denominations to fellowship in song. Though small in comparison to most mass choirs, the Anointed Central Kentucky Mass Choir fits this definition. Organized in Lexington, Kentucky, in 1990, the choir’s most recent recording is a five-track EP called Thank You. The 2014 release features its leader, gospel music veteran Elder Arlester Washington. Back in the day, Washington sang and ...

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“Laughter (Just Like Medicine)” – BeBe Winans feat. K.S.

“Laughter (Just Like Medicine)” BeBe Winans featuring K.S. (release date: September 4, 2018) www.malaco.com By Bob Marovich BeBe Winans and K.S. paraphrase Proverbs 17:22 on the mid-tempo “Laughter (Just Like Medicine).” This appropriately easygoing song is quintessential BeBe in its liberal doses of R&B to deliver an inspirational message. Here, the point is to deal with trials and tribulations by minimizing them. Laughter can heal your soul just as medicine can heal your body. “Just like Pepto Biz!” BeBe sings. BeBe and K.S. are on to something. Laughter releases endorphins, the “feel good” chemicals in your brain that, in turn, ...

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“Changed Me” – Vonnie Blackshear

“Changed Me” Vonnie Blackshear (release date: August 10, 2018) Available on iTunes By Bob Marovich Dramatic vocalist Vonnie Blackshear of Mount Rainier, Maryland, out-sings the swirl of synthesizers on this declaration of appreciation for being transformed and made stronger by God’s love. While the musicianship gives the song a quiet storm vibe, and in a way, it works because Blackshear’s soaring high notes cry out for equal amounts of musical muscle, I suspect the song would be just as intense, if not more so, were Blackshear backed by just piano, organ, and drums. I’d love to hear a remix version!

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 27, 2018

“Love Somebody Today” Genessis & Nikki From the album Genessis & Nikki https://genessisandnikki.com/ By Bob Marovich If the sister duo Genessis & Nikki wanted the single from their self-titled debut album to be a whopper, they sure picked one in “Love Somebody Today.” Written by Riley Clemmons, Gabe Patillo, and the duo’s producer Phil Sillas, “Love Somebody Today” is a rousing, joy-filled anthem that lunges at the listener with a battery of hooks and inspirational messages. The ladies not only believe that love has the power to change the world, they declare that it’s our job to take the first step ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 20, 2018

“Oh How I Love You” Zacardi Cortez Blacksmoke Music Worldwide (release date: March 8, 2018) By Bob Marovich “You see, a man ain’t supposed to cry,” Zacardi Cortez sings on “Oh How I Love You,” but the tears flow anyhow as he delivers lyrics that gush with gratitude to Jesus for, well, everything. And while Cortez admits to falling prey to the very human interest in material things, “at the end of the day,” nothing matters but Jesus. This mid-tempo song opens with a blithe piano and expands into a delicious mix of retro soul and urban AC. Cortez’s vocals ...

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Dr. Alyn E. Waller Presents Fresh Anointing – Totally

Dr. Alyn E. Waller Presents Fresh Anointing Totally Enon Music Group (release date: May 11, 2018) By Bob Marovich What is most interesting about Totally, an album by Enon Tabernacle’s young adult choir Fresh Anointing, is how many older hymns the group includes in the mix. For example, the choir gives “Blessed Assurance” a staccato reading with surges of high-voltage harmonies (though the composer credits should more properly read as by Fanny Crosby and Phoebe Knapp, with the arrangement by Sean Tillery). Fresh Anointing’s 2017 single “Holy Holy” is the liturgical classic given a big and austere treatment fitting for a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 13, 2018

“With All My Heart” Marlon McDaniel M2 Music (release date: August 4, 2016) www.marlonmcdaniel.com By Bob Marovich Accompanied only by piano, gospel singer-songwriter Marlon McDaniel delivers a delicate ballad of praise in “With All My Heart.” The song’s audience-melting sweetness earned the Ohio singer from the Church of God in Christ two Rhythm of Gospel Awards this summer: Best Performance by a Male Artist, and Praise & Worship Male Vocalist of the Year. With its lovely melody and uncomplicated lyrics, “With All My Heart” allows so much space for vocal improvisation that gospel singers who hear it will be dying to ...

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Fred Hammond – The Best of Fred Hammond

Fred Hammond The Best of Fred Hammond Verity Records (release date: June 15, 2018) www.verityrecords.com By Bob Marovich With his husky voice and preacher-like confidence in front of a congregation or audience, Fred Hammond is a solid contender for the title Prince of Power Praise. The hour-plus retrospective The Best of Fred Hammond is part of Verity Records’ #WeAreVerity campaign. It focuses on the former member of Commissioned’s catalog since he first recorded for the label back in 1995 as a soloist supported by his group, Radical for Christ. The music chugs along, track by track, thanks to a smart mix of energetic selections and ...

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Brenda Jefferson – Invocation

Brenda Jefferson Invocation Scripture Music Group (release date: April 7, 2017) Available on Amazon.com By Bob Marovich Brenda Jefferson is a songwriter who can sing. On her 2007 album, A Time of Refreshing, Jefferson held her own on duets with such leading lights as Lisa Page Brooks and Joe Ligon. On Invocation, however, Jefferson prefers to focus on writing the songs and offering spoken word introductions and inspirational interludes. She leaves the singing of her songs to such an impressive passel of featured artists that the album could easily have been titled Brenda Jefferson and Friends. The album’s high point comes ...

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