Contemporary Gospel

Genesis of a Gospel Song: “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood

Get the details behind the creation of some of gospel music’s most popular songs at JGM’s Genesis of a Gospel Song. “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood Richard Smallwood, as told to JGM’s Bob Marovich: In October 1995, my mother was ill, my godbrother was terminally ill, and I was a caregiver, going from the hospital to my house, taking care of everything. Caregiving is a very difficult thing to do. It’s time consuming, and if you don’t watch out, you’ll end up in the hospital, too. I also began to feel that I wasn’t doing enough for my loved ones. I felt ...

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Joyful Gospel – We’ve Got a River to Cross

Joyful Gospel We’ve Got a River to Cross Rampart Street Music www.rampartstreetmusic.com By Bob Marovich Although Joyful Gospel gets top billing, the choir we hear on the album We’ve Got a River to Cross, released on the New Orleans-based label Rampart Street Music, is actually a blend of choral ensembles. More specifically, it is a combination of the group Joyful and the Spirit of New Orleans Choir, which itself is a conglomeration of members of gospel groups that work with Jamalar Booking Agency in New Orleans. Not a shouting group by any means, this combined choral group sings with studied ...

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Carla Martin – One Word

Carla Martin One Word The Cloud Music (2014) http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/carlamartin1 By Bob Marovich Although Carla Martin has been singing for the better part of ten years, One Word is her debut album. Martin possesses a pleasant, power pop alto with a tight vibrato and the ability to get down into Toni Braxton’s lowest register when necessary. All songs on the CD are original compositions written by Martin and her producer, Larry Wilson.  Although the album opens and closes with high-energy praise songs energized by thumping drums, roaring guitars, and waves of electronica, Martin shines best on the tracks in the middle ...

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Janice Gaines on Living the Greatest Life Ever

By Bob Marovich Not that she would have called it her bucket list, but a young Janice Gaines had three childhood aspirations. “As a little kid,” she told the Journal of Gospel Music, I would play like was a teacher, and I would play like I was a singer, and I would play like I was on [the television game show] ‘Wheel of Fortune!’” She laughed. “I’ve done everything but be on ‘Wheel of Fortune!’” Born in St. Louis but reared in Memphis, Janice had a front row seat for performances by her “unofficial music mentor,” her mother, Jackie Reddick. Singer, ...

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Tonya Lewis-Taylor: Delayed But Not Denied

Tonya Lewis-Taylor Delayed but Not Denied EARS Entertainment Group (2014) www.tonyalewistaylor.com By Bob Marovich Tonya Lewis-Taylor may be the most generous gospel artist when it comes to sharing the microphone with others. On her mostly live debut solo CD, Delayed but Not Denied, the former background singer for pop artists and one-time publicist for Roc-a-Fella Records (Jay Z, Kanye West) solicits solo turns from each background vocalist, her children, her youngest (Jaden), her mother, and, for all I know, even total strangers. Most of the solos occur during extended pieces “The Great I Am” and especially during the twelve-plus-minute “Holding ...

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“Alright” – Tony Mclendon

“Alright” Tony Mclendon From the forthcoming The Music Church CD I’m a Winner Available on iTunes Taking his cue from a snippet of the vamp from Kool and the Gang’s “Ladies Night,” Tony Mclendon, along with a party of equally enthusiastic supporters and a relentless disco beat, offer up spiritual reassurance that “I got a feeling everything’s gonna be all right.” No heavy religious content, no deep theosophy, just a feel good reminder that “He never let you down” so hang loose and don’t give yourself an ulcer worrying about your problems. McLendon is pursuing the family business. His parents, ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: October 5, 2015

“My Son” Okey Sokay From the forthcoming Orangeville Music album Revealed https://itunes.apple.com/ca/album/my-son-single/id1042589852 This week’s pick takes us to the Ebonyi State of Nigeria and an artist named Okechukwu Dickson, who goes by the stage name of Okey Sokay. “My Son” is a tuneful, piano-driven solo on God’s fatherly compassion, written in an American contemporary gospel style and sung in English. If you “open up the door to your heart,” sings Okey Sokay in the guise of the Lord God, “I will never let you fall, I’ll catch you…because I love you…I know how you feel right now, but I promise ...

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Daughter of U.S. Soul Singer Presents Gospel Program in Western Australia

By Bob Marovich Gospel music has been an international phenomenon for more than sixty years, enjoyed in nearly every corner of the world. This includes Western Australia, where the Joyful Noise Gospel Choir will present Gospel Music @ the Rocks #2.  The program (above) will take place November 7, 2015, at the Quarry Amphitheater in City Beach, a beautiful suburb of Perth.  I can’t think of a more lovely place to be than Perth in November, when Australia will be reveling in late springtime weather. Incidentally, music runs in the DNA for event producer Jade-Lori Haggis (below, left).  Her father, Clarence ...

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Genesis of a Gospel Song: “Revelation 19” (A. Jeffrey LaValley)

Get the details behind the creation of some of gospel music’s most popular songs at JGM’s Genesis of a Gospel Song. A. Jeffrey LaValley: “Revelation 19” (Hallelujah, Salvation and Glory) A. Jeffrey LaValley, as told to JGM’s Bob Marovich I was born in Milwaukee and brought up at the Emmanuel Church of God in Christ until age ten, when a new church was formed in our living room: New Hope Church of God in Christ. I began writing music at age thirteen. My first song was called “Consider Your Ways,” based on a scripture from Haggai. I couldn’t remember it now ...

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Sue Roseberry – Magnificent God

Sue Roseberry Magnificent God (2013) www.sueroseberry.com By Bob Marovich The notes from the Hammond B3 sounded like Reveille in the morning fog. The organ’s beckoning warble at the opening of track six, “I’m Blessed,” was a sign that we were about to hear the “Mama Sue” Roseberry of BET Sunday Best fame, the solid singer who successfully portrayed her inspiration, Mahalia Jackson, on the stage. That’s not to take away from the handful of songs preceding “I’m Blessed” on Roseberry’s live album, Magnificent God, recorded at the 2013 Gospel Music Workshop of America Board Meeting. They are professionally produced expressions ...

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