Contemporary Gospel

Charlin Neal, “The Little Girl with the Big Voice,” Goes Solo

By Bob Marovich Nearly a decade ago, singer Charlin Neal stood on a stage in Trinidad as a member of Israel & New Breed. It was her first official program with the multi-award-winning group. “I was excited and intimidated,” Neal told the Journal of Gospel Music. “Of the 30 [Israel songs I learned], we maybe did eight of them—and two other songs I had no idea even existed!” Israel Houghton liked Neal’s sound and invited her to travel to Nigeria with the group. “I’ve been going since then,” she said. Trinidad and Nigeria are a long way from Bakersfield, California, where Neal ...

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Mighty Men of Faith – Believe in His Promises

Mighty Men of Faith Believe in His Promises N2L Records (2016) www.mightymenoffaith.com By Bob Marovich Since forming at a 2009 Men’s Day Celebration in Palo Alto, California, Wendell Basey and the Mighty Men of Faith have recorded a handful of albums and have garnered several honors, including two at last year’s Rhythm of Gospel Awards, one being for Quartet CD of the Year for 2014’s Nothing But Grace. The Mighty Men of Faith’s new album, Believe in His Promises, finds the indie group working within its trademark neo-quartet sound—bright, chirpy arrangements with plinky piano and frequent lead vocal exchanges between ...

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Tyscot Records: Feel Good! 40 Years of Life Changing Music

Various Artists Feel Good! 40 Years of Life Changing Music Tyscot Records (2016) www.tyscot.com By Bob Marovich What started out as a hobby for an Indianapolis, Indiana, dentist and his nephew is now the oldest existing African-American gospel music label in the country. Tyscot Records is celebrating its fortieth anniversary in the music business with a retrospective CD: Feel Good! 40 Years of Life Changing Music. The title comes from the name of the label’s first offering, a full-length album by the Radio Choir of Christ Church Apostolic, where founders Dr. Leonard Scott and L. Craig Tyson were members. The ...

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Lisa Barron & Joyful Sounds – Show Me the Way

Lisa Barron & Joyful Sounds Show Me the Way Faith Productions (2015) www.cdbaby.com/Artist/LisaBarronJoyfulSounds By Bob Marovich Although at first blush it may seem as if Lisa Barron & Joyful Sounds is a female quartet, the EP Show Me the Way finds the group working mainly in the piano/organ-led gospel group tradition, more specifically the leader-group style that has been popular for the past 25 years or so. Show Me the Way is the debut release from Barron & Joyful Sounds, a Texas group organized in 2013. The Longview, Texas-born Barron has been singing in church since around age nine, especially ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 9, 2016

“Better Days” Le’Andria Johnson Available from digital media outlets Since hearing her 2011 debut EP, The Awakening of Le’Andria Johnson, I have considered Le’Andria Johnson to be one of modern gospel music’s most expressive voices. Paired with the right songs, such as her debut single, “Jesus,” she can be downright lethal. “Better Days” is one of those right songs. Its relaxed but intense vibe provides a soulful accompaniment to a message of encouragement in the midst of life’s many storms. Knowing Johnson’s story, “Better Days” could easily be autobiographical, but regardless, it’s certainly a testimony for anyone living in these ...

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“God Has a Blessing” – Sha’Quan Welch

“God Has a Blessing” Sha’Quan Welch Believe Music Works www.shaquanwelch.com Set in 12/8 time and featuring a traditional-style vibe, complete with bluesy vamp and piano, “God Has a Blessing” riffs lyrically on the church aphorism, “God’s got a blessing with your name on it.” The song comes from the pen of songwriter, musician, and vocalist Sha’Quan Welch, who has a deft feel for melody, lyrical rhythm, and song timing. The skilled musicians and vocalists support Corey Fulmore’s high falsetto work on this radio-friendly group single. Sha’Quan Welch is minister of music at Newark’s Galilee Baptist Church, under the leadership of ...

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Pastor David Wright & the N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir – Clap Your Hands

Pastor David Wright & N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir (Next Generation) Clap Your Hands Godfather Records (release date: April 19, 2016) www.godfathergospel.com By Bob Marovich When Pastor David Wright speaks of his father on the second of the two-CD N.Y. Fellowship Mass Choir recordings done in June 2013, he is referring to the late Reverend Timothy Wright, Godfather of Gospel Music, renowned for his dynamic ensembles and choirs. Brimming with new songs written in the traditional style, Clap Your Hands demonstrates that the Wright family tradition is alive and well. The album is bookended by two up-tempo church wreckers. The title track ...

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Todd Dulaney – A Worshipper’s Heart

Todd Dulaney A Worshipper’s Heart eOne Music (release date: April 15, 2016) www.todddulaneyland.com By Bob Marovich Todd Dulaney is among the new-ish crop of male gospel tenors who croon rather than shout their praises aloft. His latest album, A Worshipper’s Heart, is his first live project and as good a demonstration as any of his growing potential as a singer and songwriter of serious note. The album opens with a congratulatory introduction from Dulaney’s former pastor, Smokie Norful, who helped launch the singer’s career when Dulaney, then a ballplayer with the New York Mets, joined Norful’s Victory Cathedral. From there, A Worshipper’s ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: May 2, 2016

“Oh How We Love YOU” Tiff Joy From the Tyscot Records CD Tiff Joy www.tyscot.com The second single from Tiff (“Amazing”) Joy’s eponymously titled album from 2015, “Oh How We Love YOU” finds the award-winning singer-songwriter leading an exuberant group of background vocalists on one of those rigorous praise pieces that may not be in the hymnbook but appears with regularity at gospel music programs. Written by a team of talented songwriters (Tiff Joy, Phillip and Angel Feaster, and Calvin Rodgers), “Oh How We Love YOU” has so much motive power, clapping along is almost compulsory. Destined to be a ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: April 18, 2016

“To Be Loved By God” Kimberly Palmer-Blackwell From the Thornewell Records album The Best of Kimberly Palmer-Blackwell, Vol. 1 www.cdbaby.com/cd/kimberlypalmer14 It’s Kimberly Palmer-Blackwell’s soaring, soulful vocal that sells “To Be Loved By God,” a heartfelt melody and just-right arrangement reminiscent of early 1980s R&B balladry. To depict God’s love as better than all earthly desires, Kimberly builds the emotion without resorting to melismatic runs or shouts. One can imagine the singer standing flatfooted and alone on an altar or stage, belting out this song in a powerful, resonant tone. Born in Ashtabula, Ohio, Kimberly Palmer-Blackwell is a member of the ...

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