Contemporary Gospel

Akita Steen Smith – A Long Time Coming (EP)

Akita Steen Smith A Long Time Coming Akita Steen Smith (2014) http://altmgtmktc.com/akita-steen/ By Bob Marovich “It’s been a long time coming,” Akita Steen Smith sings on the title track of her five-cut EP. No doubt it has been a journey, but A Long Time Coming suggests that the Detroit singer is not yet at the finish line. This independently-produced project by indie vocalist Smith is contemporary gospel steeped in smooth jazz arrangements and musicianship. Less is more, as the saying goes, and it would have been good advice for this project. In more instances than fewer, too much is going on musically, especially ...

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Juzang – Back 2 Life (EP)

Juzang Back 2 Life (EP) www.juzangmusic.com By Bob Marovich You may be asking yourself: what’s a Juzang? It’s a trio of singing sisters—Guielle, Patria, and Marisa Juzang—from Huntsville, Alabama. The lovely young ladies released their EDM-fueled inspirational single, “Back 2 Life,” this past spring. They return with a five-track EP of the same name that gives listeners a chance to hear more of their sweet harmonies. The title track, with its explosive punctuation of electronica, is still the group’s strongest offering. Nevertheless, the EP demonstrates that the trio does not need to hide behind musical pyrotechnics, however effective they may be, ...

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Dr. F. James Clark and the Shalom Church (City of Peace) Mass Choir – Simply Amazing

Dr. F. James Clark & the Shalom Church (City of Peace) Mass Choir Simply Amazing (Release Date: June 16, 2015) www.shalomccop.org By Bob Marovich This debut project from Dr. F. James Clark’s Shalom Church (City of Peace) Mass Choir of Florissant, Missouri, captured my interest the second I saw that the Reverend Quincy Fielding Jr. was recording consultant, composer, and vocalist; and composer-conductor Dello Thedford is the church’s minister of music. Given such estimable talent at the helm, it is no surprise that Simply Amazing features a well-trained, well-rehearsed choir capable of rendering a passing parade of contemporary sacred music ...

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RIP Nathan Murphy: Sang with James Herndon, Had Own Group

By Bob Marovich Dwayne Lightsey informed JGM this morning that Nathan Murphy, a gospel singer formerly with the James Herndon Singers and organizer of his own Nathan Murphy Singers, passed away August 17, 2015. The James Herndon Singers were organized in the late 1960s by Caravans accompanist James Herndon.  Members of the group besides Murphy included, at one time or another, Caravans alumnae Josephine Howard and Delores Washington, Luella Hunt, and the Helen Robinson Youth Choir’s Roxie Bibbs.  The Herndon Singers’ hit, “Oh Lord Have Mercy,” was reported to have been one of the best selling gospel records of 1969. In a ...

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Chicago Mourns Passing of Bishop Jerry D. Goodloe

By Bob Marovich President Yvonne Seabrooks of the Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild informed JGM that Bishop Jerry D. Goodloe, pastor and overseer of Lighthouse Baptist Church of Chicago, has passed away. Born January 17, 1923, in Nashville, Tennessee, Bishop Goodloe moved at age four to Detroit, and then to Chicago in 1946. In Chicago, he attended Liberty Baptist Church under the leadership of Dr. D. Z. Jackson, and was part of First Church of Deliverance in the 1950s, where he sang in its famous radio choir. Goodloe entered the ministry and with seven members, started Lighthouse Baptist Church on ...

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Tasha Cobbs – One Place Live

Tasha Cobbs One Place Live Motown Gospel (release date: August 21, 2015) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Recorded before nearly 3,000 worshippers at Redemption Church in Greenville, South Carolina, singer-songwriter Tasha Cobbs’ One Place Live is a solid follow-up to her number one CD, Grace. It actually surpasses the multi-award-winning debut album, as the worship songstress sounds more vocally confident than ever before. On One Place Live, produced by label-mate VaShawn Mitchell, Cobbs doesn’t as much lead as direct or orchestrate the flow of praise and worship. Song transitions are effortless and create a worship experience that is nigh perfect in its ...

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Reginald Torian Sr. – All Things Torian

Reginald Torian Sr. All Things Torian R.T.M. Records (2015) www.reginaldtoriansr.com By Bob Marovich As a member of the Impressions, Reginald Torian Sr. inherited a repertory that included love songs, dance tunes, and formidable classics of inspiration and cultural empowerment. His solo sampler CD, All Things Torian, replicates this same thematic mix, albeit with a far more explicit focus on the role of religious faith in one’s life than ever the Impressions presented. We learn from Aaron Cohen’s fine album notes that Torian first lent his sweet, gentle falsetto to the Enchanters vocal group before joining Fred Cash and Sam Gooden in the ...

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JGM Pick of the Week: August 10, 2015

“Grace” Yael Hilton Available on iTunes Fayetteville, North Carolina’s Yael Hilton sings the stuffing out of “Grace,” an unbridled exultation of the power of God’s abundant mercy on her life. Written by Hilton and produced by GRAMMY Award-winner Kevin Bond, “Grace” is the twenty-something’s debut solo single and possibly a glimpse at what she is putting into her forthcoming full-length album. Catch the song’s first vamp and then hold on tightly for the second vamp to hear what this young woman can do.  An amazing talent who deserves major label attention. Hilton is director and minister of music at the Fayetteville ...

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“Something Big (Live)” – Jekalyn Carr

“Something Big (Live)” Jekalyn Carr Lunjeal Music Group (released August 7, 2015) www.malaco.com Eighteen-year-old gospel singing sensation Jekalyn Carr reprises “Something Big,” her single from earlier this year, as a live performance, complete with ambient shouts from her appreciative audience. Carr is energetic and exudes the power of positive thinking in this live performance. Perhaps the single is a teaser for a forthcoming live album, the release of which would make sense, but as a live single, it would have been better to hear her sing something new.

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Mechelle Johnson – “Urgent”

“Urgent” Mechelle Johnson Al-Go-Rhythm (2015) On “Urgent,” Memphis-based gospel singer Mechelle Johnson scats, swoons, whooos, and reads lines with rhythmic staccato accents, performing with more jazz than gospel in her voice. Her well-honed performance approach supports the song’s premise, which encourages listeners to go beyond the church walls and “into the highways and hedges” to deliver souls to God. The melody of this smooth jazz arrangement contains a bluesy twist, though the lyrics are inspirational, as Johnson charges listeners to accept discipleship and “shine for Him” through good works. Have a listen yourself: “Urgent”

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