Contemporary Gospel

“O My Soul” – The Southeastern Gospel Music Workshop Choir

“O My Soul” The Southeastern Gospel Music Workshop Choir From the NGE Records Let God Arise (Live) (release date: August 1, 2016) Available on digital music outlets By Bob Marovich The Southeastern Gospel Music Workshop Choir’s debut single, “Let God Arise,” is the type of aurally aerobic song that praise teams use to open a worship service, and therefore also comprises a live album’s opening moments. It is the kind of song popular with today’s gospel radio programmers. But the choir’s slower and more reflective “O My Soul” grabbed my attention. “O My Soul” possesses in grace, dignity, and reverence ...

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BJ McKenzie – Encouraging God’s Nation (Isaiah 61:1)

BJ McKenzie Encouraging God’s Nation (Isaiah 61:1) BJ Muzic (release date: September 6, 2016) www.bjmuzic.org By Bob Marovich Taking Isaiah 61:1 for his thematic anchor, award-winning solo artist and choir director Bernard “BJ” McKenzie Jr. of Chicago offers a healthy dose of optimism on his debut solo album, Encouraging God’s Nation. But the lyrics do not stop at simply getting through life’s trials.  Getting to one’s favor, or blessings (breakthrough), is just as significant. McKenzie offers these linked messages of hope and expectation time and again, most particularly on the single, “Born 2 Win.” It is a contemporary gospel song about looking past ...

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“Release” – The Church Choir feat. Pastor John P. Kee and Maranda Curtis

“Release” The Church Choir feat. Maranda Curtis & Pastor John P. Kee From the Kee Music Group CD If God Be For Us (release date: August 26, 2016) Available from digital music outlets By Bob Marovich If anyone has a stake in the “bring the church choir back” movement, it’s Pastor John P. Kee. Church choirs have been his life and continue to be. Last year, Kee, the award-winning founder of the New Life Community Choir, united a choir with gospel stars such as Zacardi Cortez and Hezekiah Walker for If God Be For Us.  The album was intended to help rekindle ...

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Lamont Sanders: “God Was Trying to Get My Attention”

By Bob Marovich Relaxing on the tour bus after a concert, Lamont Sanders could still hear the shouts of “Encore!” from tens of thousands of audience members echoing in his mind. The Bible says your gift will make room for you, Sanders reflected, and it had. He had signed with Kenny “Babyface” Edmonds and Andre Harrell. His R&B group was performing to adoring fans, just like tonight. It had recorded an album that would soon be released. Life was good. Then he felt a presence in the seat next to him. A voice spoke: “That feels good, huh? They’re screaming ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 1, 2017

“In His Presence” Geneatha Wright Feat. the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and Denise Renee Godfather Records (release date: March 27, 2017) www.cdbaby.com/cd/geneathawright2 By Bob Marovich First Lady Geneatha Wright gives her all to “In His Presence,” a simple, sweet ballad written by her husband, Pastor David Wright, about being where Jesus is because where Jesus is, there is peace, freedom, and liberty. Together with the Bible Faith Tabernacle Choir and soloist Denise Renee, Wright builds the intensity of the song until it ends in fiery evangelistic shouting. The instruments drop out at one point to accentuate the singing.  “In His ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 25, 2017

“He’s the One” Monica Lisa Stevenson feat. Pastor Walter E. Ellis From the album Kainos (The Acoustic Documentary) Puretonez Production/eOne Distribution (release date: September 2016) www.monicalisastevenson.com By Bob Marovich Those who appreciate the fiery traditional singing of Monica Lisa Stevenson, the proverbial fifth Caravan, will be slightly taken aback by her softer, gentler, and overall acoustic approach to “He’s the One.” I say slightly taken aback because “Try Jesus (He’s the One)” is not a new song: MLS’s father and uncles, who had formed a quartet, sang it on their programs. It’s a traditional song.  Only the smooth arrangement and ...

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“Forevermore” – Sue Neil

“Forevermore” Sue Neil Sure Foundation Music (2017) By Bob Marovich A lovely acoustic piano intro makes way for a gentle prayer of praise from Pastor Sue Neil. In soft tones, she marvels at the wonders of God and all he has created. If “Forevermore” sounds sun-kissed, that’s because Neil wrote it upon waking early one morning and feeling the need to put in song all the emotions she felt about the Lord. Towards the conclusion, as Neil moves to the most passionate portion of the song and listeners anticipate a heartbeat-skipping explosion of sound, the natural resolution of her innermost feelings, her voice drops somewhat from ...

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Vancouver’s Warren Dean Flandez: the “Christian Bruno Mars”

By Bob Marovich No doubt about it, Canada has a thriving gospel music community. Some artists, such as Londa Larmond, the Quebec Celebration Gospel Choir, and the Sojourners quartet, have somewhat broken through into the U.S. gospel music market. I say somewhat, because in comparison to the long litany of Canadian pop artists who conquered the U.S. market and went on to become global sensations, gospel singers from Canada have yet to make their mark outside of their country. Warren Dean Flandez wants to change that. Although he has been active in music for many years, the Vancouver-based artist released ...

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“The Blood” – Charles Butler & Trinity

“The Blood” Charles Butler & Trinity From the Anointed Sounds Records album Make It (release date of single: February 2017) Charles Butler & Trinity heightens the tension dramatically and in short order on “The Blood,” a Mandel Copeland composition. Taking for its theme the redemptive power of Jesus’s death on the cross—a salient subject during this time in the liturgical year—“The Blood” begins with soft harmonies and contemporary chords but concludes with full-on preacher’s shouts and Trinity as a spiritually unshackled congregation. Mandel’s brother Josh Copeland leads, employing the same verve he had when he sang this song with the Copeland ...

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“You Are” – Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir

“You Are” Dr. F. James Clark Presents NextGeneration Choir From the forthcoming album Sure. Focused. Centered. (release date: summer 2017) www.nextgenchoir.com By Bob Marovich Plaudits to the Most High are lifted with nimble vocalizing, a brisk tempo, and pleasantly startling punctuations of high notes by the NextGeneration Choir of the Shalom Church (City of Peace) of Florissant, Missouri. On the song’s hook, the music fades as the choir runs rapidly through a litany of names for God.  It was such an attention grabber, they could have kept on going. NextGeneration Choir, Dr. F. James Clark’s young adult chorus, hopes to ...

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