Contemporary Gospel

“Take Me to the King” an RIAA Certified Gold Digital Single

DALLAS (August 5, 2014) – Grammy Award® Nominee Tamela Mann and Gospel Icon Kirk Franklin have a lot to celebrate. The “Take Me To The King” digital single, written and produced by Franklin and recorded and performed by Tamela, has been RIAA Certified Gold, having sold more than 500,000 digital copies. Tillymann Music Group label head and Tamela’s manager and husband, David Mann, presented Tamela with her RIAA Certified Gold plaque during their Comedy and Concert event on Friday, August 1 at the Victoria Fine Arts Center in Victoria, Texas. “What an amazing surprise to be presented with my first ...

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Mark Yandris – A Sound for God’s House

Mark Yandris A Sound for God’s House Released June 16, 2014 Available at Amazon, iTunes, etc. By Bob Marovich Mark Yandris is a brother from another mother. Like me, he has Slavic roots and family ties to the Calumet Region south of Chicago. Whereas our family remained in Da Region, Yandris’s family moved to the Bay Area.  He grew up in the Gospel Music Workshop of America and his father’s First Apostolic United Pentecostal Church.  While other fifteen-year-olds and I were trying desperately to learn a few chords on the guitar, Yandris had already formed his first gospel choir. His ...

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“I Gotta Do Better” – Jon Plair

“I Gotta Do Better” Jon Plair www.jonplair.com With “I Gotta Do Better,” singer-songwriter, producer, musician, and COGIC PK Jonathan Plair admonishes those “slacking in their praise” to do better.  Do better, he exhorts, and you will change your life. The song is conventional in melody and arrangement, but Plair and his female background singers, who do most of the vocal heavy lifting, give “Better” an energetic reading.  And do I hear real honest-to-God brass in the background? Plair, who at age 25 founded Plair’s Music Institute of Performing Arts, also serves as vice president of Agape Jurisdictional Music Department under Bishop ...

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Phyllis Brown of Chicago’s Brown Sisters Dies

By Bob Marovich The Journal of Gospel Music learned today from Chicago Area Gospel Announcers Guild President Yvonne Wesley-Seabrooks that Phyllis Brown of Chicago’s beloved Brown Sisters has passed away. According to the Brown Sisters website, Phyllis was the group’s bookkeeper.  It was a fitting responsibility, since she had worked in accounting for TransAmerica for more than two decades.  In addition to singing with the group, Phyllis attended the Pillar of Truth COGIC, led by her father, Pastor Ben Brown. The Stellar-nominated Brown Sisters of Chicago made the Billboard charts with “Awesome God,” a single from their 2009 Live in Chicago album on ...

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The Heart of Nancey Jackson Johnson

Nancey Jackson Johnson The Heart of Nancey Jackson Johnson Camdon Music 2014 www.CamdonMusic.com By Bob Marovich I have enjoyed listening to Nancey Jackson Johnson solo on several projects over the past few years, beginning with “Lead Me to the Rock,” from Rev. Stef & Jubilation’s 2006 The Launch Out Project.   Nancey’s powerfully expressive voice adds luster to just about any song. Naturally, therefore, I was quite eager to hear her debut solo CD, The Heart of Nancey Jackson Johnson, released on Donnie McClurkin’s Camdon Music imprint. The album, released last month, contains songs with worship lyrics set to contemporary gospel with ...

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Hanq Neal’s Last Solo Bittersweet for Church

By Bob Marovich In 2012, the Wheeler Avenue Mass Choir recorded a CD in honor of the Houston, Texas church’s fiftieth anniversary. The full-length album, Oh To Be Kept by Jesus, brought together the church’s music department and two longtime collaborators, Wheeler Avenue music minister Henry “Hanq” Neal and Leon C. Lewis, who produced the CD. Lewis wrote a song called “I Believe” for Neal, who sang lead on it. Almost immediately, the church recognized the song would become the album’s main selection. But no one could have anticipated that “I Believe” would be Neal’s last solo. The Grammy-nominated vocalist, ...

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TBGB Pick of the Week: July 21, 2014

“I Believe” Dr. Marcus Cosby & the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir From the 2012 CD Oh to Be Kept By Jesus (Anniversary Edition) Available on Amazon.com “I Believe” is a robust, stadium-sized praise anthem and assertion of personal belief from the Wheeler Avenue Baptist Church Mass Choir of Houston, Texas.  The orchestral flourishes come courtesy of the Nashville String Machine. The passionate song turns out to be the final recorded solo for the church’s music minister, the late Henry “Hanq” Neal.  A Fort Wayne, Indiana, native and former member of the Pentecostal Ambassadors and Donald Vails Choraleers, Neal ...

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Andrea McClurkin-Mellini – Higher

Andrea McClurkin-Mellini Higher Camdon Music (June 17, 2014) www.camdonmusic.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Sister of gospel star Pastor Donnie McClurkin, singer-songwriter Andrea McClurkin-Mellini is no newcomer to gospel music.  She was a member of the McClurkin Singers and a charter member of the New York Restoration Mass Choir.  She penned the title track to the family’s 2007 Gospocentric album, We Praise You.  Still, Higher represents her first full-length solo album, and it is an accomplished debut.  “God Can,” written by Pastor Donnie, is the album’s radio-friendly single, a song of faith and encouragement with plenty of ...

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Eric Thomas – Keep On Climbin’

Eric Thomas Keep On Climbin’ Self-released (2009) www.cdbaby.com/cd/ethomasmusic By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Keep On Climbin’ by Chicago singer Eric Thomas could easily be subtitled “With the Sons of Chicago Gospel Legends.” That’s because Richard Gibbs (Inez Andrews’s son), Bryant Jones (Rev. Billy Jones and Jeanette Robinson Jones’s son), and Joey Woolfalk (Johnny Woolfalk’s son) are among the album’s musicians.  And to top things off, the legendary Gene Barge (Checker Records) produced the album and plays sax on one track.  Eric Thomas can call such leading lights together because he is no stranger to Chicago music.  He ...

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Minister L. Jones – Hallelujah to His Name

Minister L. Jones Hallelujah to His Name Sharper Brothers (released January 16, 2014) www.sharprecordsusa.com By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog If I were a betting man (I’m not), I’d wager that the early work of Commissioned and the Winans had more than a smidgen of influence on the singing style of Minister Lorenza “LoJo” Jones of Birmingham, Alabama.  They and ’80s soul balladeers Billy Ocean and Jeffrey Osborne. This is the mix you experience on Minister Jones’ solo album, Hallelujah to His Name.  The ten tracks have a back-to-the-Eighties vibe, mixed with a preacher’s penchant for declarative instruction. ...

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