Contemporary Gospel

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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Sherry Songbird – Made For You

Sherry Songbird Made for You Family First Productions (2014) www.sherrysongbird.com By Bob Marovich Singer-songwriter Sherry Songbird’s sophomore release is an EP called Made For You. The six selections are sunny vertical praise songs written by Songbird, and the understated instrumentation, led by acoustic piano and guitar, spotlights her light but passionate soprano. Set to a robust string section, the title track expresses the joy of accepting Christ. Although the rests in the music pause too long for comfort, and the tempo could be quicker, Songbird delivers the lyrics with appropriate drama and stave-jumping notes that earned her stage name. While ...

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Smokie Norful – Forever Yours

Smokie Norful Forever Yours Tre Myles Music / Motown Gospel (2014) www.motowngospel.com By Bob Marovich Grammy Award-winning vocalist Smokie Norful burst upon the national stage in 2002 with the breakout hit, “I Need You Now.” The song, featuring Norful’s trademark melismatic tenor, not only garnered significant gospel radio airplay, but also made the playlist of nighttime Quiet Storm programming. A licensed minister even before his solo career took flight, Norful founded Victory Cathedral Worship Center in suburban Chicago in 2005 and has released at least three recorded sermons. Forever Yours, the latest fruit of his labors, explores new musical territory ...

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Eddie Reddic – Above All

Eddie Reddic Above All Reddic Records (2014) Available at CD Universe By Bob Marovich Above All, the third album from Houston, Texas, native Eddie Reddic, ties traditional lyrics to contemporary sounds and resourceful arrangements. For example, Reddic gives the church classic “I’m a Soldier” a deep, funky treatment, while “Lead Me to the Rock” flows with a modern flair. Another congregational favorite, “What He’s Done For Me,” puts a heightened praise break-style tempo to a quartet sensibility. All eight of the songs on the album contain flavors of jazz, R&B, and contemporary gospel. What Eddie Reddic demonstrates above all on ...

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“It’s Gonna Happen” – Jekalyn Carr

“It’s Gonna Happen” Jekalyn Carr Lunjeal Music Group/Malaco Music Group (available on iTunes August 12) www.myjekalyncarr.net “It’s Gonna Happen” is the latest single from the seventeen-year-old from the Mid-South who brought you “Greater is Coming” and “They Said, But God Said.” In a chirpy vibrato that evokes the pre-teen Tanya Tucker, Jekalyn delivers a ballad of faith that good things will happen because God said they will. It’s the wisdom not of the aged but of youthful optimism and a steadfast belief in the substance of things not seen. Jekalyn first came to national attention when she sang “Amazing Grace” in the ...

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