Contemporary Gospel

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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“Beautiful” – Wincey

Wincey “Beautiful” From the CD Time to Say (2012) www.winceyco.com Wincey Terry-Bryant’s “Beautiful” is an acoustic love song to God, though it could also be an acoustic love song to another person, or even encouragement to one’s self, for that matter. Its lithe, lilting melody is lovely and in sync with other tracks on the Jersey City, New Jersey, native’s debut album, Time To Say, which she began recording in 2008 and released four years later. Although it may have difficulty breaking into gospel radio, which currently favors a denser, more flamboyant form of praise, “Beautiful” is the kind of ...

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TBGB Pick of the Week: July 7, 2014

“Amazing Worth” Charles Butler & Trinity feat. Jeremiah Hicks From the EPM Music Group CD Better www.epmmusicgroup.com Gospel enthusiasts first became aware of Washington, DC’s Charles Butler & Trinity when the ensemble backed Earnest Pugh on his 2009 hit, “Rain On Us.”  In February 2013, the group released its debut album, Better, on Pugh’s EPM Music Group imprint. “Amazing Worth” is the latest single release off of Better.  While the song follows Pugh’s formula for delivering graceful P&W anthems, the passion of the singers is what sells it. Together with the musicians, Jeremiah Hicks and Trinity eke every ounce of ...

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Tim Spady & Inspiration – Just Believe

Tim Spady & Inspiration Just Believe Tspady Music Productions (released May 27, 2014) By Bob Marovich for The Black Gospel Blog Songwriter and keyboardist Tim Spady’s new album, Just Believe, is a compilation of songs, most of which deal with faith, endurance, overcoming, and victory through the simple but often difficult act of unquestioning belief. Spady’s calling card is his melodicism: inventive and hypnotic on the opening track, “Joy Will Come in the Morning,” and bursting with scrumptious harmonies on the single, “You Give Me.”  His gospel music contains as much pop-classical influence as it does R&B and soul.     Members ...

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TBGB Pick of the Week: June 23, 2014

“Hello Sunshine” Kyla Jade (released May 23, 2014) www.kylasings.com For her debut solo single, Kyla Jade, lead vocalist for Dr. Bobby Jones’ Nashville Super Choir, revisits “Hello Sunshine,” the late 1960s hit for the choirs of Jessy Dixon and Rev. Maceo Woods.     It’s an excellent choice for Kyla’s friendly, expansive soprano.  She rides the melody like a surfer on a wave, navigating its ebbs and flows through to the denouement. Some gospel purists may grimace at the bouncy contemporary arrangement, but keep in mind how modern “Hello Sunshine” was when it came out more than 40 years ago.  Nevertheless, ...

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