Contemporary Gospel

David Daughtry – David Daughtry

David Daughtry Self-Titled Karew Records/eOne Entertainment www.karewrecords.com By Bob Marovich It is fascinating how gospel music, a genre where the signature sound is brisk and exuberant, can be most beautiful when sung slowly and melodically. David Daughtry includes both the rapid and the measured on his impressive self-titled debut project. Although Daughtry delivers several fine uptempo selections on the album, the worshipful ballads “You Are” and the hypnotic “I Call Your Name” demonstrate his dexterous, earnest tenor. He launches falsetto notes well into the upper register and gets as high as Philippe Wynne (Spinners) on a cover of the Winans’ question-and-answer ...

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“My Inspiration” – Angela “Missy” Billups

“My Inspiration” Angela “Missy” Billups E’Mazin Entertainment/Missy B. Music (2014) Best known for her churchy traditional songs, Angela “Missy” Billups, accompanied by a background vocal group, delivers a contemporary worship song to express gratitude to God for graces bestowed. She drops a couple of lines of verse from “Total Praise” in the vamp, then concludes, “When I thought was going to lose my mind / God, you stepped in the nick of time.” The song is good and shows that Missy is exploring new territory for her singles, but I much prefer Missy’s traditional side.

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Tammy Smith – Instrument of Praise

Tammy Smith Instrument of Praise www.tammysmithgospel.com By Bob Marovich Instrument of Praise by Chicago’s Tammy Smith sandwiches slices of traditional singing between healthy helpings of contemporary gospel with a smooth jazz patina. Nowhere is this combination more apparent than on the two part “The Blood.” Smith begins by offering Andrae Crouch’s classic “The Blood Will Never Lose Its Power” in a traditional vein, consistent with the original, then switches to a modern interpretation on the second part. As a singer, Smith possesses a light soprano that becomes even more delicate on the top notes. Her style suits the album’s majority ...

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Kevin LeVar and One Sound – Destiny-Live at the Dream Center…and More

Kevin LeVar and One Sound Destiny—Live at the Dream Center…and More OneSound Entertainment LLC (August, 2014) www.kevinlevar.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Kevin LeVar is among the new generation of male gospel crooners that includes Earnest Pugh, Micah Stampley, Keith Williams, and Brian Courtney Wilson. He also knows how to craft a memorable melody, as demonstrated by his singles, “A Heart That Forgives,” “We’re Only Getting Started,” and “You Are Not Alone.” Ballads have been, and continue to be, LeVar’s sweet spot, and he adds two more to his oeuvre on Destiny—Live at the Dream Center…and More. The songs, “Your Destiny” ...

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Gladys Knight – Where My Heart Belongs

Gladys Knight Where My Heart Belongs Shadow Mountain Records (release date: September 9, 2014) www.gladysknight.com By Bob Marovich Like many R&B and soul artists, the multi-Grammy winner Gladys Knight got her start in the church. It’s to the church she returns for her latest release, Where My Heart Belongs. The album finds Gladys Knight singing as strong as ever and delivering the selections in her signature tear-stained voice as if they were personal prayers or testimonies. Indeed, she has said, “I vividly remember the time in my life when I felt lost, as if something was missing. I was desperately seeking ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: September 8, 2014

“Mighty God” Valerie Woodard (2014) www.valeriewoodard.com Melding an ‘80s R&B musical background to a decidedly contemporary melody, much like the Clark Sisters who she cites as an inspiration, Valerie Rogers Woodard expresses her admiration for God with an infectious, shoulder-shaking rhythm. The wordless interjection in the chorus is guaranteed to get audiences singing and dancing along with her. The song is based on Psalm 150, so that is appropriate. The singer-songwriter lives in Wilson, North Carolina, and is currently preparing her sophomore project, Relationship II: Closer.

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B. Chase Williams & ShaBach – Live Again: Bigger, Better, Greater

B. Chase Williams & ShaBach Live Again: Bigger, Better, Greater Dream Gospel / Capitol Christian Distribution (2014) www.bchasewilliams.com By Bob Marovich Organized in Cincinnati more than 20 years ago by singer/songwriter/musician B. Chase Williams, ShaBach is a full-throated choir that performs with zest. They follow their 2010 R3 –Redeemed! Reconciled! Released! with another rhythmically-titled album—Live Again: Bigger, Better, Greater. As with many albums by male-led small choir, the lead vocalists on Live Again add the sparkle that distinguishes this project from others. Several singers shine on Live Again, notably Terrence Cotton on the smooth jazzy and Whitfield-esque “My Everything;” Melodi ...

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TBGB Pick of the Week: September 1, 2014

“Deep Down” Kendra Smith From the DeVine Records Management CD Something New (2014) www.kendrasmith.org Independent artists fuel the future of gospel music. Without their hunger and desire to be heard, the genre would be in perpetual danger of stagnating. Proof positive: seventeen-year-old Kendra Smith of Florence, South Carolina. The 2012 South Carolina Music Awards Gospel Artist of the Year and Rhythm of Gospel Award nominee, indie artist Smith is a young woman with a commanding voice and confident presence. Her new single, “Deep Down,” has an old soul but a modern beat.  Smith has the love of Jesus “way down, deep down ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 25, 2014

“A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands)” Rance Allen Group Tyscot Records (2014) www.tyscot.com A gospel trio that was blurring the barriers between the music of Saturday night and Sunday morning in the late 1960s, the Rance Allen Group returns to the funky style that brought them national attention with “A Lil’ Louder (Clap Your Hands).” From the thudding bass line to Rance’s trademark shouts of spiritual ecstasy and sanctified scatting, the song encourages every listener to get on up and worship. Dance, clap your hands, stomp your feet, raise your voice, and scream, sing the group, all to punctuation from the ...

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